Ohio Tips Off Basketball Season With Bobcat Madness

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Saul Phillips was officially introduced as Ohio head coach on April 6, but Bobcat Madness served as his introduction to most Bobcat fans.

In true Saul Phillips fashion, the head coach made a grand entrance. With the lights dimmed and fog pouring out from the Convo’s tunnel, Phillips rode out on to the court on the back of a motorcycle driven by Rufus, the Bobcats’ mascot.

Bobcat Madness also gave fans a first look at the 2014-15 version of the men’s and women’s basketball teams.  Each player for both teams was introduced individually, and not surprisingly, senior fan favorites Maurice Ndour and Stevie Taylor received the biggest applause.

“It was great,” Taylor said of the event. “This was the first time I’ve ever done something like this.”

Following the player introductions, the men’s and women’s teams squared off in a head-to-head 3-point contest. Each team had three participants, and each competitor had 30 seconds to sink as many treys as they could.

The first matchup was between Javerz “Bean” Willis and Lexie Baldwin. Willis took the first round of the competition by sinking nine of his 12 attempts to Baldwin’s five makes.

Freshman forward Kelly Karlis had an impressive showing with eight makes, but the men’s team took the second matchup as well when Michigan State transfer Kenny Kaminski drained 10 shots from deep.

With the 3-point contest already wrapped up for the men’s team, Stevie Taylor and Mariah Byard squared off. After watching Taylor make eight attempts, Byard started out slow, but heated up and sank a three at the buzzer to tie Taylor.

The 3-point contest was the end of the night for the women’s team, but the men’s night continued with a ten-minute intrasquad scrimmage. The scrimmage got off to a slow start with five badly missed 3-pointers from well behind the line in the first two possessions.

The pace picked up after Taylor connected with Ndour for an alley-oop. The scrimmage then took the form of an all-star game-like exhibition with plenty of dunks and virtually no defense.

“As a coach, when you watch the scrimmage and they’re faking defense, that grinds you a little bit,” Phillips said. “But they’re having fun out there, and this was a big party.”

The team threw down a flurry of dunks, but the most impressive dunk in the scrimmage belonged to freshman Ryan Taylor, who elevated and threw down a thunderous reverse slam.

Taylor wasn’t done showing off his leaping ability, as he was one of four competitors in the dunk contest. Wadly Mompremier kicked off the contest by throwing down a one-handed tomahawk after failing to finish several alley-oop attempts.

Taylor was up next, and the athletic freshman finished two dunks. On his first attempt, Taylor caught a pass off the backboard from Jaaron Simmons and jammed home a windmill slam. His second attempt was a double-pump, reverse dunk off his own lob pass.

Following Taylor was his fellow freshman wing, Mike Laster. Laster struggled with his early attempts and had to settle for a simple two-handed dunk.

Ndour capped off the first round by bringing out freshman guard Reggie Williams, who stands at 5-foot-9, and dunking over him.

Both Taylor and Ndour advanced to the finals of the contest, but Taylor was unable to get his between-the-legs, alley-oop dunk to go down. Even the simplest of dunks would have won Ndour the contest, but the Senegal-native upped the ante.

This time Ndour brought out Williams and Sam Frayer to be dunked over. Frayer is no short player at 6-foot-6, but that didn’t stop Ndour from clearing both of them and soaring in for the contest-clinching slam.

Phillips joked that he was disappointed Ndour didn’t try to jump over him, given the coach’s small stature.

The dunk contest was the end of the festivities Wednesday night, but the Bobcats will be back on the floor Saturday when they welcome Division III foe Marietta College to the Convo.