Nov. 19, 2011
ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Men's Basketball plays its third-straight home game to open the season when it welcomes Arkansas State to town on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off between the Bobcats and Red Wolves will be at 2 p.m. and is part of the 2011 Global Sports Invitational.
This is the first meeting between Ohio and Arkansas State on the hardwood and the Bobcats have a 5-4 record against teams from the Sun Belt Conference.
Ohio pulled off an 85-78 overtime win over the Lamar Cardinals last time out. Junior D.J. Cooper finished the game with 21 points for the Bobcats as well as five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Freshman Stevie Taylor posted 14 points and made three of five attempts behind the arc. Junior Ivo Baltic added 14 points and tied junior Walter Offutt for most rebounds with nine. Offutt also added 13 points.
A point of emphasis heading into the season was defense and that has come across in the first few games with Ohio limiting its opponents to 24.3 percent shooting from three-point range. The Bobcat backcourt is an area seen as a strong spot on this team and so far it has helped the team hold a +17 advantage in turnovers.
A Look at the Opponent
ASU returns two starters from last year's squad which captured a share of the 2010-11 Sun Belt Conference Western division title. ASU's top returning guard from last season, junior guard Trey Finn returns after averaging 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. Adams was named Sun Belt Conference Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team and Finn was named to the third team. Also returning for A-State is junior forward Brandon Peterson who averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 29 starts for the Red Wolves last season. Off the bench, ASU returns senior Malcoln Kirkland (4.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg), sophomore Ed Townsel (4.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg), Adam Sterrenberg (3.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg) and Kinley Ogbonnyay-Branch (4.6 ppg, 0.9 rpg).
Last year, The Bobcats advanced to their third postseason appearance in four years and became only the third team in the nation to play in all four postseason tournaments (NCAA, NIT, CBI, and CIT). The 65-64 victory over Marshall in the first round of the CIT was the 11th win in postseason history for the Bobcats, most of any team from the Mid-American Conference.
This also marked the first time in Ohio history that the Bobcats had earned wins in consecutive postseasons, and has now earned a win in three of the last four postseasons. Ohio's 41 wins over the past two seasons are its most since the 94-95 campaigns, and the Bobcats are one of three MAC teams to have one or fewer losing seasons since 2004. The Green & White also achieved their first winning record in true road games since 2002.
Preseason Points of Interest
Ohio was selected to finish third in the East Division as the Mid-American Conference released its 2011-12 Preseason Poll. Junior guard D.J. Cooper was named to the East Division's Preseason All-MAC Team after being a First Team selection last season. He is averaging 14.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals for his career after ranking third nationally in assists last year with 7.5 per game.
In Ohio's lone exhibition game against Mercyhurst College, Baltic tallied a double-double on the night, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. New addition Walter Offutt finished with 23 points and four steals. He and Kellogg combined to shoot 13-of-18 from the field, going 7-for-10 on three-pointers, for 40 of Ohio's 82 points. In his first action on the collegiate level, Stevie Taylor earned the start and added nine points along with a team-high four assists for the Green & White.
Ohio Adds LeVert
Ohio Men's Basketball announced the signing of Caris LeVert, a 6-5 shooting guard from Pickerington Central, for the 2012-13 season.
The addition of LeVert is a great boost for the Bobcats, given the in-state recruit is currently ranked at No. 8 overall among Ohio prospects, according to ESPN. A pure shooter and scorer with deep range and a quick release, LeVert uses his long frame to get shots off over defenders. He has proven to be a slashing scorer as well that can use the bounce to create shots. LeVert has the athleticism and the length to make up for his thin, yet wiry, frame.
"He has great feel for the game and a tremendous knack for scoring the basketball," Groce added. "He also has good size for his position and the athleticism we look for at the wing position. He is extremely excited about being a Bobcat."
LeVert joins current Bobcats Jon Smith, Nick Kellogg, Nick Goff, David McKinley and Stevie Taylor as local products that have decided to stick close to home. LeVert was a second team Ohio Capital Conference selection last season, with Taylor being named the league's Player of the Year.