Bobcats And Broncos Try To Emerge From Years Of Struggle

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Two teams on the rise in the Mid-American Conference will meet Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center. Western Michigan (6-7, 2-0) brings its three-game win streak to Athens to face an Ohio squad (6-7, 1-1) that put 97 points on the board last Thursday against Miami (Ohio).

Western Michigan won last season’s matchup 62-53 in Athens.

Despite being separated by 350 miles, the ‘Cats and Broncos share a lot in common aside from their 6-7 records. Through 13 games last season, both teams amassed a 4-9 record, only to finish with a combined 17-43 record. Each head coach, Western Michigan’s Shane Clipfell and Ohio’s Bob Boldon, remains in the process of reviving a program that has seen brighter days.

Their defenses have also seen brighter days. In 15 of the combined 26 games played, Ohio and Western Michigan have allowed 70-plus points. Where they differ is how they approach life on the offensive half of the court.

Since taking over Ohio Women’s Basketball, Boldon has been installing a 3-point-heavy motion offense that relies upon off-ball movement. Forty-six percent of Ohio’s field goal attempts have originated from beyond the 3-point arc. No mid-range shots and a minute amount of post-up plays from the forwards.

A common theme among jump-shooting teams is that those squads live and die by the jump shot. Ohio sank 13 3-pointers against Miami, but players and Boldon alike did not feel comfortable with having to score at least 80 points to win a game. Guard Mariah Byard said that while it’s fun to see the shots go in, the team cannot rely upon hot shooting to earn the victory.

As for the Broncos, the offense lives and dies by their presence by the hoop. 5-foot-10 Marquisha Harris and 5-foot-11 Miracle Woods have been Western Michigan’s offensive focal points thus far, averaging a combined 29.4 points per game while also snagging a combined 14 boards per game.

Two different offenses, one similar goal of starting quickly. Both Ohio and Western Michigan have displayed moments of brilliance when they can establish their offenses early. Fall behind in the opening minutes, and the game plan could be derailed.