Column: Blame

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A quick look at Twitter after the Ohio Bobcats’ 65-49 loss to the Akron Zips in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game reveals two things: first, nobody likes to lose. The second? People must find someone—anyone—to blame.

Either D.J. Cooper wasn’t aggressive enough, the team stopped feeding Reggie Keely in the post or Jim Christian just couldn’t lead this team to where they needed to be. It makes sense because people want to attribute a cause to every effect.

Unfortunately for Ohio fans, they won’t find many people to blame other than Lady Luck. The ‘Cats were up three at half when the wheels fell off. They hit five field goals and went 0-12 from the three-point line in the second half. Not many people can remember the last time Cooper went an entire game without making field goal.

This is a good Ohio team. It finished the regular season with two losses in conference play. Yes, the Bobcats shot 1-20 from three, but they were also third in the Mid-American Conference from distance all season. Just look at last night’s victory over Western Michigan. Ohio shot the lights out, hitting 11-21. Sometimes you’re hot, sometimes you’re cold, and sometimes, you take a dive in the Cuyahoga River on a cold March evening and then lock yourself in a walk-in freezer. Head Coach Jim Christian tried to sum up Ohio’s struggles.

“Sometimes you just can’t explain it,” he said. “There’s no schematic thing, there’s no adjustment. We had the same looks we had in the second half we had in the first half. We just didn’t finish plays. It happens.”

That’s what this loss was for Ohio. During the postgame press conference, reporters peppered Christian, Cooper and Keely with question after question about adjustments and strategy. They responded with the same line over and over: “It was just one of those games,” said Cooper.

“Coach Christian dialed up a great scouting report,” he continued. “We followed it to a T. It was just our offense tonight. We just didn’t make shots.”

Could this squad have done a few things better? Sure. The ‘Cats were beaten on the boards, badly, but that’s nothing new. Did they allow their frustration on the offensive end of the floor bleed into what they were doing defensively? Of course. However, they also held the Zips to just a trio of field goals from the outside, limited Zeke Marshall to 10 points, and harassed the Zips’ offense into more turnovers than assists.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but shots didn’t fall for these ‘Cats when they needed them to, and that unfair truth is what lost them this game. These seniors, the most successful class in Ohio history, have played their last game in the MAC. They won’t go to the NCAA tournament and they won’t have a chance to make a run to the Sweet 16.

And that doesn’t have to be somebody’s fault.