The Ohio women's basketball program saw a three-win improvement under first-year head coach Bob Boldon in 2013-14.
March 26, 2014
ATHENS, Ohio -Bob Boldon arrived in Athens as the new head coach of the Ohio University women's basketball program on March 28, 2013, as a man with a proven track record of building a program from the ground up.
He inherited a University of Arkansas at Monticello squad that finished 1-15 in conference play and led the Cotton Blossoms to consecutive conference tournament appearances and the school's first conference tournament victory since 1998.
Youngstown State carried the burden of an 0-30 record in 2012-13. Three years later, Boldon led the Penguins to a 23-10 mark (11-5 Horizon League) and a first-round victory in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
The job of leading the Bobcats presented similar obstacles: a program coming off a six-win campaign that included just one Mid-American Conference triumph and a roster featuring two seniors who could not play, one junior, three sophomores and six freshmen.
Despite the challenges, the Bobcats saw a three-win improvement under Boldon's watch - including the program's first victory over archrival Miami in three years. Ohio's RPI also improved by 80 points. The Bobcats' schedule featured 10 teams that qualified for postseason play - including two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 squads (Louisville and Maryland) and a second-round qualifier (James Madison).
The 2013-14 season brought the implementation of Boldon's motion offense, and the result was Ohio setting a league record for three-point attempts in a single season with a total of 810. The `Cats set a school and conference record by knocking down 19 treys -- just four shy of breaking the NCAA record - in an 84-36 wire-to-wire win over UMBC on Dec. 30, 2013, in the third-place game of the James Madison University Invitational.
Sophomore guard Kiyanna Black (Columbus, Ohio) garnered 2014 All-MAC Honorable Mention while freshman guard Quiera Lampkins (Gahanna, Ohio) earned a place on the conference's All-Freshman Team. Black averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game while Lampkins averaged 10.8 and started all 30 games during her rookie season.
Redshirt sophomore guard Kat Yelle (Geneva, Ill.) overcame season-ending injuries from the previous two years to play in all 30 games in 2013-14 and start all but two contests.
Sophomore forward Lexie Baldwin (Hattiesburg, Miss.) started all 30 games and led the team in rebounds while freshmen forwards Destini Cooper (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) and Hannah Boesinger (Hudson, Ohio) contributed significant minutes in the post.
Boldon and his coaching staff also placed strong emphasis on academics and community service.
A nursing major who owns a 3.890 cumulative grade point average, junior guard Mariah Byard (Mannington, W. Va.) was named MAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week on Jan. 9, 2014.
The Bobcats welcomed 10-year-old Adyn Bucher to their roster via Team IMPACT - a non-profit chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. Bucher, who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was a year old, joined Ohio on her 10th birthday -- Feb. 4, 2014 -- at a press conference in which Boldon and the team presented her with a special light pink jersey, a signed basketball and cupcakes.
The page has officially turned on Ohio's first season with Boldon at the helm as spring conditioning workouts have gotten underway at the Convocation Center, and a sense of optimism is in the air.
The Bobcats will add guard Mariah Harris (Springfield, Ohio) - a transfer from Michigan State - and prep forward Kelly Karlis (Medinah, Ill.), who led Montini Catholic High School to its fourth Illinois High School Association Class 3A state title in five years and earned state MVP honors in doing so, to their arsenal in 2014-15.
Step-by-step, piece-by-piece, the foundation for a winner is being poured by an architect who knows a little something about building a champion from the ground up.