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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Man Behind the Scenes

Imagine being a player, if you can, and as your are sitting at Damon's Grille the day before the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament you see this video come up on the enormous flat screen above your table. It has been a season with more obstacles and struggles than in the past, you just got done traveling seven hours on a bus to Central Michigan and finals week is in the back of your mind, but one video can make you forget about all of the hard times. Nothing else is on your mind besides winning that championship that you have practiced three long hours a day, six days a week for. At least it has that effect on me, as well as the players, and it is all possible thanks to one member of the Bobcats crew that we haven't talked about yet, Daronce Daniels. 

Daniels is a video producer for sports marketing at Ohio University and is responsible for creating, along with Emmy-Award winning videographer Evan Shaw, the season highlight video above. A recent graduate of Elon University, Daronce says the best part about his job at Ohio University is when he gets to see the team's reaction to his work.  

"The best part is watching the players when the see the videos and seeing the look on their face. You know, making them excited or making them happy or whatever emotion you can bring out," said Daniels. 

At many universities the women's teams do not receive the same amount of coverage, or the same quality of coverage, due to lack of funding. At Ohio University, however, the video production team makes sure to cover all of the teams and the players couldn't be more thankful.

"I think that we do a great job of treating all of the sports equally and it is nice that people are trying to show that they support us," said senior Jennifer Bushby

Senior Jenny Poff, a transfer from Michigan State University, says she was used to a strong following and that the videos and articles on are important to maintaining a support system.

"When people and fans can't come out to the games all the time it is important for them to be able to keep up with the team somehow," Poff said. "The videos that Daronce and Evan work on help to show what's going on because sometimes just an article can't show that."  

When I asked the seniors about the highlight video in particular, they only had great things to say. 

"The video was phenomenal," Bushby added. "That was one of the best highlight videos I have seen since I have been here. The music is cool, the graphics are amazing and I was impressed. It had the effect it should have had."   

Senior Jenny Poff had a similar reaction.

"That was really good. That is what a highlight video is supposed to do," she said. "It is supposed to pump you up and get you excited to play. I was really impressed by the graphics and the effects. It definitely worked."

If Daniels was being honest when he said his favorite part of the job is making players excited to play, then mission accomplished. 

Fun Fact: The Men's basketball team is in the semi-finals today! 

Go Bobcats! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nike Shoes-Do They Just Do It?

The team is sponsored by Russell Athletics, but if you know anything about basketball shoes then you know that Russell kicks are not always the most ideal. To compensate, the team wears Russell clothing and is allowed to use a portion of the budget to purchase Nike shoes. The team gets to decide between two or three pairs depending on shoe size and budget. They can either pick a pair of Nike shocks or a pair of Nike Blue Chips. 

Throughout their entire basketball careers, each player had been able to purchase the shoe that is perfect for them. Coming to college and having to pick between just two pairs can be a big adjustment to make. No one is complaining because they are free, but not everyone is excited about the scarce selection. Now that the season is over, I can't just show up to practice and get the scoop so I sent out a mass text that said, "Hey guys, which Nike shoe did you pick this year and what did you think of them overall. Please be honest." Here is how they responded:  

Senior Jenny Poff says there is no competition between the two. "I wear the Nike shocks and everyone thinks that they are too heavy but I just like shocks in general so they are more comfortable for me. I never have problems with them and they are great," she said convincingly.

Junior guard Carolyn Barnett is in the same boat. "I really like them. I didn't have to break them in, they were good to go as soon as I put them on."

Freshman Symone Lyles, on the other hand, hasn't had the same experience. "They started off really good and I was happy. But then toward the end of the season they started to hurt the crap out of my feet," Lyles said. 

Are you sure it's the shoes...or is it the line runs and the suicides that take a toll on your feet? Last year I chose the Blue Chips and decided to give them a try. Like Poff said, a lot of girls think the shocks are too heavy and I am one of them. The Blue Chips were extremely light, they formed around my feet really well and they were cute! 

Lyles is right though. They started to kill towards the end of the season. Usually a player experiences the worst pain during the break-in process, but the Blue Chips continued to loosen until there was no support. With no support, my feet start start sliding forward and my toes were constantly jamming into the front of the shoe. Not a pretty site, or feeling. Luckily, the girls get two pairs of shoes so if they start to fall apart a fresh pair is waiting.  

Freshman Tina Fisher decided to choose one of each kind. She says as long as they are Nike she will be happy. "I really like all of them. I am a Nike girl and I have always worn Nike so I really like them. Nike is all you need!" she said.

All of the players go through two pairs a season. The Nike Shocks run around $110.00 and the Blue Chips run close to $85.00 so it's good thing for team discounts and scholarships. For now, it's time for the players to give their feet a rest until Spring Quarter begins. Then, believe it or not, they will be back to work already! 

Fun Fact: The team buys pink shoe laces for the breast cancer awareness game and most of the players finish out the season with their pink shoelaces in. I STILL have mine in!

Go Bobcats!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tournament Game Break Down

If you are interested in MAC Tournament first round notes, you can find all of the info you need on the Ohio Bobcats website. 

Picture courtesy of


Beyond the Game

As I was writing my last post about balancing academics and athletics, I started thinking about how basketball relates to life in general. I mentioned that a handful of professors would be pleased if athletics didn't exist at all, but the women on this team are confident that the skills they practice on the court are preparing them for the rest of their lives. 

"Basketball teaches you how to overcome diversity," freshman Symone Lyles said. "My teammates and I don't all look alike, as you can tell, and we are all from very different families and lifestyles. Throughout all adversity you just have to stick together to succeed and make it through. You can't have doubts, but just trust one another."

Along with learning how to communicate with teammates who are significantly different than you, freshman Ashley Fowler says basketball has improved her communication skills overall. 

"You have to be constantly communicating. You communicate with your teammates, coaches and the media in different ways," she said. "I would feel comfortable now having to approach someone I had never met before and working to get to know them. That is what happened this year when I had only a couple of months to get to know all of my teammates before season started."

Today is tournament day, as you know, and for most of the freshman it has been a long season full of learning. The freshman combined are averaging 12 minutes per game, a significant number for first-year members. Most of the time as a freshman you only get one chance to make a first impression or else the bench is waiting with your name all over it. Freshman Tina Fisher says instead of looking at this as pressure, she likes to think it helps her get in the mindset to play with no regrets and leave nothing behind.

"You have to always play like it is going to be your last game and that is how I try to live my life too. In basketball your time to make an impact is short. When you are applying for a job, isn't it the same?" Fisher said. "You never know when you will get a great opportunity in life, and you always have to live like it might be your last one."

For the Bobcats, tonight could be the last one. It is win and advance, or lose and go home but as long as the team shares Fisher's mentality, they should be ready for battle. Tip-off is tonight at 5 in Mount Pleasant, MI. I will be tweeting game up-dates. If you have any other thoughts on how athletics are important to developing life skills please feel free to comment! Can't wait to hear:)

Fun Fact: Ohio and Central Michigan will be meeting for the 53rd time in the all-time series. Ohio leads 14-11 when playing in Mt. Pleasant. 

Go Bobcats!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Balancing School and Travel-Not an Easy Task

Finals are approaching and so is tournament time! This is the point in the season when student-athletes are faced with the stressful challenge of juggling the most important part of the quarter with the most important part of the season; but, the players are referred to as "student-athletes" for a reason. The student is placed in front of the athlete intentionally. While the players have been recruited and are getting paid to play basketball, academics always come first. 

"Being in season requires constant communication with professors with both the student athletes and myself," said Academic Services and CHAMPS/Skills Coordinator Amy King. "What is difficult about traveling is that the students don't always have internet access and it is my job to be in touch with their instructors so I can text them updates and make sure they are taking advantage of office hours once a week and study halls while they are on the road," she added. 

King has weekly meetings with each student athlete as well as the coaching staff. Each student is assigned an academic coach that they report to each week. The coaches then meet with King to collaborate and share the progress being made or any concerns they have with certain players. 

"It is important for me to have input because the players open up to me differently than they do with their coaches. Based on what they tell me, I send out an email once a week to professors just to touch base," she said.

The communication with instructors is especially important when traveling on the road. Long bus trips, no internet access and being mentally focused on the game are all challenges to staying on top of school work. 

"Study hall on the road is extremely difficult. We back down in season and they take 12 credit hours instead of 16. Then they take a summer class to make up for the 12 so they are still averaging 16 a quarter," King noted. 

When scheduling, King and the athletes adjust what days they take class in season so they miss as little as possible. Most of the games landed on Wednesdays and Saturdays which means players try to schedule on Mondays and Thursdays, for example. 

"Even with the adjustments we make, athletes miss anywhere from 5-10 classes throughout the season which is why communication is so important," King said. 

So, the athletes are missing 5-10 classes, practicing for three hours per day along with a minimum 12 class hours, making up homework on long bus trips, meeting once a week with an academic instructor, meeting once a week with an academic coach and are required to clock in a specific number of study table hours at Peden Stadium. Do you think they are earning their scholarships?

Not everyone thinks so. In several cases there has been tension between professors and student-athletes. There are several professors that refuse to honor the university approved official travel letters because they do not believe academics should ever take a back seat to athletics. This puts athletes in a difficult situation especially when they are required to take a class for their major with a professor that will not accept absences. To me this is absurd. It is one thing to not accept absences from a student-athlete who is struggling in the class and needs the extra focus on academics, but to blatantly categorize all student-athletes as too irresponsible to manage missing a few classes is insulting. Having played for two years I know that it is possible to maintain a balance. With the study hours and academic meetings I was able to maintain a 3.9 over the course of those two years on the team. Most student-athletes want to excel in the classroom for multiple reasons: the school is paying their tuition, they will not be playing basketball forever and plan on getting a job after college, the majority are naturally driven human beings, and the better you do in school the fewer study table hours are required.

"Students are assigned study table hours depending on their GPA. Right now, all of the sophomores and some of the juniors have meetings with me once a week, but there are members of each team that work extremely hard. Some don't have to come at all and others only have to put in a few hours a week," King said. 

If anything, athletics helps student-athletes do better in school. These women are constantly competing on the court and their competitive mindset transfers to the classroom. By playing a sport, athletes are forced to practice better time management and communication skills to keep a positive relationship with their professors and balance school work. Are there negatives to missing class? Yes, but I am arguing that the positives significantly outweigh the negatives. What are your thoughts?

Fun Fact: The Bobcats have only won ONE road game this year. Central Michigan will be a difficult task! (That is more upsetting than fun but still an interesting stat!)

Go Bobcats!  

2010 MAC Tournament Bracket

Ohio finished the season as the 11th seed and will take on the 6th seed Central Michigan Sunday night at 5. has the updated bracket here: 2010 Tournament Bracket

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Around the Country and Back

The women's basketball team has gotten to travel all across the country this year to compete against schools that Coach Randall and the Ohio Athletic Department believe will make them better. This includes trips to Utah and Florida to name two. Traveling to different parts of the country means playing in different environments. The players have to quickly adjust to a variety of arenas, fan bases and altitudes. Most players have a favorite gym or two that they can't wait to travel to. Do you have one? This map takes you to all of the facilities the women have played in and includes pictures, descriptions and a few fun links!

View Basketball Arenas 2009-2010 Season in a larger map