Bobcats Tip Off 2014-15 Season At Home

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By this time, it’s no secret that Saul Phillips will be coaching in his first regular season game at Ohio on Saturday at 2 p.m., but his opponent in Appalachian State has a new coach with Jim Fox in his first season with the Mountaineers.

Phillips and Ohio find themselves in a quite a different position from Fox and Appalachian State, though. The Bobcats, a team that has had three straight 20-win seasons and three straight postseason tournament appearances, come into the 2014-15 season looking to keep that recent success rolling.

The Mountaineers, who have had three straight losing records, enter this season under a fair bit of uncertainty. Not only do they have a new coach, they are also playing their first season in the Sun Belt Conference with no hopes of postseason hopes thanks to a postseason ban due to Academic Progress Rates.

App State was not an offensive powerhouse by any means last season, finishing 303rd in the nation in both assists per game and field goal percentage. The Mountaineers also lost one of their two top scorers from last year's squad in Jay Canty.

The main scoring threat for Coach Fox’s team is senior guard Tab Hamilton, who finished second on the team in scoring last season with 12.7 points per game. Due to the team’s lack of scoring, Hamilton was forced to take tough shots, which caused him to only shoot 36 percent from the field.

For the Bobcats, the key will be avoiding the slow start that they had Saturday in their 82-69 win over Marietta. Ohio fell behind by 14 midway through the first half and trailed the Pioneers by 3 at halftime. One way that the Bobcats can avoid a sluggish start is by playing with patience.

Ohio often settled for quick 3-pointers in the first half of the scrimmage against Marietta. They were decent looks, but they were looks that Ohio could get any time they wanted to. There was no reason to be launching so many deep 3-pointers early in the shot clock.

Another key will be to get Maurice Ndour going early. Ndour was quiet early against Marietta, going 1-for-6 for only two points in the first half. Not surprisingly, Ohio struggled in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, Ndour came alive and scored 16 points to finish with 18. Also not surprisingly, the Bobcats also came alive when Ndour began to produce.