Team preview: Ohio

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Going into last season, Ohio lacked a point guard, a post player, and a cohesive veteran. The Bobcats were coming off a disappointing 10-20 campaign and needed a fast-acting antidote in coach Tim O'Shea's fourth season. Enter Snap (Jeremy Fears), Crackle (Mychal Green) and Pop (Leon Williams) … and presto! … Ohio had a MAC championship team. The Bobcats surprised the league and captured a MAC Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

When Williams' tip-in rolled over the rim and through the basket to beat Buffalo, 80-79, in overtime at Gund Arena in the MAC championship game, O'Shea and the Bobcats gathered up all of the chips. They had rallied from a 19-point, second-half deficit in this high-stakes, winner-take-all game and were the only ones with a ticket to the Big Dance.

"When these guys arrived in Athens, I became a better coach," said O'Shea, whose team was picked last in most MAC East Division preseason polls, after losing its two leading scorers.

"Not too bad for a team not having any all-conference players," quipped O'Shea, when Ohio became the first team in MAC history to win the tournament title and not have a player selected to either the first or second team. "I thought they deserved more recognition than they got."

The Bobcats also were the first team to win four MAC Tournament games.

Green, Williams, and sophomore Sonny Troutman gained honorable mention All-MAC. Fears was a member of the MAC All-Freshman team and an all-tournament selection. Williams was the MAC Freshman of the Year and the tournament MVP. O'Shea, meanwhile, signed a contract extension through 2009-10.

In the final analysis, Ohio went three-for-three in its recruitment of Fears, Green, and Williams and the timing could not have been better. All three players were difference makers, and when combined with the three best holdovers (Troutman, Terren Harbut, and Jeff Halbert), Ohio became an excitingly unpredictable squad. The NCAA trip was Ohio's first in 11 years, since the Gary Trent-led squad of 1993-94 went 25-8.