#55 Ohio: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #55
Conference Rank: #1 Mid-American Conference
2009-10: 22-15, 7-9
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Groce (37-32 at Ohio, 37-32 overall)
Ohio will not sneak up on anybody this year. The Bobcats stunned, and dominated, Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and bring back a solid group of players to build around. Losing leading scorer Armon Bassett will be a big blow, but Coach John Groce is in his third year at the helm and has quickly turned this program into the team to beat in the Mid-American Conference.
Key Losses: G Armon Bassett, G Steven Coleman, G Jay Kinney, C Kenneth van Kempen
In retrospect this group could use another guard or two, but Coach Groce found a couple players who have the ability to play right away and that is exactly what this team needs. If Ricardo Johnson and Nick Kellogg can consistently hit the long ball it will be an added bonus. Johnson will have to see a lot of playing time at the two guard spot and Kellogg is a combo guard who will likely spend some time at both spots this season. Small forward T.J. Hall will try and work his way into a relatively crowded frontcourt. Alex Kellogg, a transfer from Providence and brother of Nick and son of Clark, has the size and versatility to play at either post position and will add some experienced depth up front after playing two years for the Friars. Ethan Jacobs is an interesting prospect. Ohio has enough depth up front, but it may be tough to keep the 6-10, 220 pound center off the floor if he continues to develop.
Steven Coleman was supposed to be the player who replaced the scoring of Bassett. Coleman only played in ten games last year and Ohio did fine without him, but now he is gone and the Bobcats have to find a replacement for the replacement. The likely candidate at the shooting guard position to start the season is Tommy Freeman. Once the newcomers come around, Freeman, a 6-5 forward, will likely move back to his more natural position. Yet, it really does not matter where Freeman plays; he will knock down a ton of three-pointers either way. Last year he connected on 47.7 percent of his 5.3 attempts per game from long range. Nearly all of Freeman’s shots came from beyond the arc last year, but he is getting increasingly comfortable using his size to attack the basket, but as long as he can stay hot from beyond the arc, others can attack the paint. D.J. Cooper is one of those players who can do both. The point guard is the leader of this team and once he became a threat to shoot from long range, he was very tough to stop. As a freshman last year he averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 assists, 5.4 steals and 2.5 steals. If he continues to improve his shooting, Cooper will be a MAC Player of the Year candidate.
The frontcourt has a few former roleplayers that need to step up and play a bigger role. Asown Sayles may begin the season starting at the small forward spot, but the defensive stopper will likely be moved to the bench once the newcomers are ready to take over. Sayles’ skill set lends well to a bench player who can come in and grab some boards and play stellar defense. Ivo Baltic started a couple games as a freshman and should be an effective big man off the bench with a year of experience under his belt. Perhaps the most important player to the success of the frontcourt is Reggie Keely. The 6-8, 263 pound sophomore did quite well during his first year in Athens and is a big bodied player who can use his size to block some shots and grab some boards. If his offense comes around, Ohio will have more scorers than they know what to do with…which is never a bad thing.
Who to Watch:
DeVaughn Washington is the big man on campus. The 6-8 senior averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds a year ago and is in for a huge senior season. When Ohio is not attacking the basket from the backcourt, they will be dumping the ball down to Washington. If Keely does emerge as a more dangerous scorer than he was last season, Washington will be even more difficult to stop because it will be very hard for the opposition to double team Washington when everybody else on the floor is a threat to score too.
Few, if any, teams in the MAC can match Ohio’s talent. This is a team that has a lot of size for the conference and Washington, Keely and the rest of the frontcourt should have a relatively easy time on both ends of the floor against most conference opponents. Freeman probably will not spend too much time at the two guard spot by the time MAC conference play gets underway, but guarding a 6-5 shooting guard is something most opposing two guards are not used to doing. Ohio is not sneaking up on anybody this year, but they are ready for everybody’s best shot.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
D.J. Cooper, Sophomore, Guard, 13.5 ppg
Tommy Freeman, Senior, Forward, 10.5 ppg
Asown Sayles, Senior, Forward, 2.5 ppg
DeVaughn Washington, Senior, Forward, 11.3 ppg
Reggie Keely, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 ppg
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