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Arena: The Convo
School Name: Ohio University
Conventional wisdom in the MAC says that teams with upperclassmen capture the league title. Ohio University head coach Tim O'Shea couldn't care less about conventional wisdom. Entering his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats, O'Shea has a team poised to compete for the MAC regular season crown.
"I think we deserve to be considered among the elite teams in this conference," O'Shea says.
Last year, the Bobcats went 21-11 overall and 11-7 in the MAC. They lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Florida. Ohio did all of that with a roster full of sophomores and freshmen. Now those young players are a year older and a year better.
Leading the way is 6' 8" forward Leon Williams, the MAC's Freshman of the Year last season. He averaged 11.9 points and 8.6 rebounds and became a force for die Bobcats late in the season as they marched to the Tournament.
"Leon has already arrived as one of the premier players in this conference," O'Shea says. "He really understands how to play the game and understands how we want him to play in our system."
The Bobcats also return leading scorer Mychal Green (15.0 ppg), along with swingman Sonny Troutman (12.6) and guard Jeremy Fears (11.0).
"Troutman is vastly underrated as a player in this league, while Fears is as good of a point guard as there is in the MAC," O'Shea says.
If there was one weakness for Ohio last year, it was on the glass, where they were outrebounded by 1.6 boards per game in league play. However, the arrival of Boston College transfer Johnnie Jackson (6'6", 210 pounds) should help. He saw limited playing time for two years behind All-America power forward Craig Smith.
O'Shea also adds junior college point guard Antonio Chatman, 6'9" forward Ken Ottrix, another juco transfer, and 6'6", 230-pound freshman Jerome Tillman.
The Bobcats will be challenged early by a tough non-conference schedule that includes Kentucky, Detroit and Rhode Island.
Even with the expected success, O'Shea warns that his team could just as easily finish in the middle of the pack in a very competitive MAC East Division.
"One thing you never know about is chemistry," O'Shea says. "What I like about this group is that they have already won a championship. They know what it takes to win; now they just have to put it all back together."
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