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Ohio University guard Monica Williams (13) races a Dayton player to steal the ball at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio, Nov. 16, 2023.

Women's Basketball Column: Ohio is in dire need of offensive stability

An Ohio team that is budding with a wealth of promise, there exists a drought of consistency. Among the Bobcat's top-nine players in minutes per game this season, six were listed as not on the roster last year or were out with injury.

The bevy of new faces that Ohio Coach Bob Boldon has been tasked with tying together has led to some growing pains as the team looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2022-23 season.

Through four games this season, the Bobcats rank second in the NCAA in turnovers per game. While their shooting has been solid, being unable to hold onto the ball to get those has prevented the team from being elite offensively.

In their wins this season, both of which have happened in The Convo, the Bobcats have done a good enough job limiting those errors. Against Dayton and IUPUI, the team could keep the turnover total under 20. Although Ohio still took fewer shots than the two teams, it at least kept it somewhat even.

However, if the words of Boldon are to be believed, these successes are not enough, and the numbers can’t be the standard for the Bobcats if the remainder of the season is to be successful.

Following the team’s win against Dayton, Boldon expressed the need for the team to continue to lower its turnover numbers into the “12-to-15 area.”

Ohio’s turnover troubles can be attributed to a plethora of ball handlers who are either freshmen adjusting to the college game or being tested in an expanded role for the first time. 

However, turnovers aren’t the only reason why teams are getting more possessions than the Bobcats, as size has also been an issue.

Securing possessions on the glass has been the crux of Ohio’s ability to win the possession game. Through four games, the Bobcats are losing the rebounding battle with just 33.0 rebounds per game to their opponents' total of 45.5 rebounds per game, including an offensive rebounding deficit of 8.8 per game to 19.3 per game.

The Bobcats aren’t just new, but they are a relatively small team. Only three players are over 6 foot: Kate Dennis, Aja Austin and Emma Barnett. Dennis is the only one who’s seen consistent playing time so far this season, and she prefers to play out on the perimeter offensively, with over 70% of her shots coming from three.

The big out-of-conference matchups Ohio is going to face – namely Ohio State and Syracuse – boast rosters with nearly half of their players over 6 feet tall and have much better roster continuity from the previous season.

To explain how new this Bobcats roster is, the team has returned just 39.2% of its minutes played from last season and 25.4% of its scoring. For both Ohio State and Syracuse, five of those numbers are marked at over a 60% return percentage.

There have been bright spots for the Bobcats, namely the emergence of Jaya McClure as the team’s primary offensive weapon. The 5-foot-6-inch guard was a primary fixture for the team in her freshman season last year. However, in the absence of Yaya Felder, last season’s biggest contributor who transferred to Baylor last summer, McClure has been the returning member of the team who has stepped up.

Having nearly double the points of Ohio’s second-leading scorer with an efficient 15.7 points per game, McClure has been the player the Bobcats have turned to when they need a big play. She has hit timely shots from the perimeter, taken it to the basket for layups or free throws and found her teammates for wide-open shots.

As the season progresses, the team will hope to follow McClure to a Mid-American Conference tournament, but it will require several improvements from the team, including better protection of the ball and securing possessions on the glass.

The Bobcats boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in their conference, with a ton of talent among the underclassmen who have been providing in big ways early on. However, growth will need to occur, and consistency will need to be found for the team to reach its potential this season and onward.


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