Ohio's 2022 season ended with the team falling just short of the Mid-American Conference Championship with a loss to Toledo. A young team that came together toward the end of the season to qualify for the MAC tournament may have spring-boarded itself toward another successful year in 2023. Ohio Coach Jeff Boals and Ohio players feel as though the team's success in 2022 is independent of the story of the 2023 team.
"I don't think anything from last year fades into this year," Boals said. "I think just maybe the competence of how to do it, what worked, what didn't work, more than anything (will transition) from last year to this year."
Ohio's freshmen were perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2022 season. As talented as A.J. Brown and Elmore James are, few could've expected both players to make the All-MAC freshman team like the duo did in 2022. Brown and James' sensational freshman seasons come with large expectations for their sophomore campaigns. Boals feels as though Brown, James and some of Ohio's other young players have put in the work in the offseason to improve in year two.
"You're always looking at the freshman and sophomore years as the biggest jump," Boals said. "Aidan Hadaway has made a big jump ... AJ Brown is healthy now—he was banged up pretty much the majority of last year, early summer—and then Elmore James, so I think those guys will make a big jump just from a freshman to sophomore standpoint."
For any young team, the early part of the season can be a difficult transition. With only three new additions, many parts of the offseason have been streamlined for the 2023 Bobcats.
"Everything is easier (this year compared to last)," Boals said. "Weight room is easier, practice is easier, workouts were easier because everyone knew what to expect and what we were doing. We knew personalities, chemistry was a lot better."
Something Boals will certainly want to continue in the 2023 season is the success the Bobcats had at home in 2022. Ohio finished with a 14-1 record in The Convo including wins over third and fourth-finishing Akron and Ball State. Boals credits Ohio's students for the team's success at home.
"For us playing in The Convo, there's no better atmosphere in our league," Boals said. "Our students are huge, they drive our atmosphere ... We have rules: Don't lose at home, don't lose two in a row."