Women’s Basketball: There’s No Place Like Home For The Bobcats

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What is home court advantage?

Every sports fan knows about raucous fans, tough places to play, and powerhouse teams getting upset on the road.

But what is home court advantage? Does it really exist?

There are several indications across a wide variety of sports to suggest that it does.

The New Orleans Saints were 9-0 in the Superdome during the 2011-12 season, including the playoffs, but only 5-4 on the road. As of February 24, the Los Angeles Lakers are an impressive 14-2 under the Hollywood style lights in the Staples center, but just 6-12 in other venues. And Hockeytown’s Detroit Red Wings currently sport an NHL best 26-2-2 record at home, while managing a very average 15-16-1 on the road.

So, there is evidence supporting the theory that the home team does have some kind of advantage in seemingly every sport. Then the question becomes, what is the advantage?

Ohio’s women’s basketball team has played with confidence at home but had its share of struggles elsewhere this season. The ladies are 11-5 in Athens and only 2-10 on the road or at neutral sites.

“I don’t want to say there’s an advantage,” senior guard Tenishia Benson said. “If there is an advantage, it’s within the player. The player, I believe, is more comfortable.”

Ohio is a much more confident and comfortable team in the Convocation Center. The Bobcats knocked off first place Bowling Green at home Wednesday night in a big statement game. The win was huge for Ohio’s potential Mid American Conference Tournament seeding. The Bobcats have an opportunity to secure a first round home playoff game in the MAC tournament, as teams seeded one through four receive first round byes, and teams five through eight have first round games at their campus sites. The ‘Cats currently sit at 6-8 in conference play and can lock up at least an eight seed with just one more win. But with only two remaining games on the schedule, both of them away, Ohio will have to get that win on the road…

Ohio plays in Buffalo Saturday at noon in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN 3 and SportsTime Ohio. And if it can’t win in upstate New York, Ohio may have to win when it travels to Oxford to take on rival Miami. The Bobcats won the first meeting with Buffalo at home 73-64, but lost to Miami in the Convo 67-47.

Benson was not shy about explaining all of the things that could potentially be bothersome to a student athlete playing away from home: bus rides, hotels, outside distractions, food, even the lights.

“You have to be really mature to go play away games and win,” Benson said. “And that’s why great teams win on the road.”

While Ohio certainly has not been great on a consistent basis this season, it has a chance to ride the momentum from Wednesday night’s victory down the stretch and into the playoffs. Getting that first round playoff game at home would mean a lot to the Bobcats and Benson especially, who was honored Wednesday night in the final regular season home game of her career.

“Any time you are able to play in your own gym with your own fans and then you’re just more familiar with the court, and the rims, and just the feel…especially with a game such as the first round, it’s very comforting.”