Calvin Mattheis | Ohio Athletics

Ohio Celebrates Senior Night Against Miami

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The Ohio Bobcats have everything to play for on Friday night. A bye directly to Cleveland is on the line and they are facing their rival at home. And it is Senior Night.

Their counterparts, the Miami RedHawks, are playing with house money. They already had their senior night and regardless of Friday’s outcomes will be the 12-seed in next week’s Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Entering the final day of the regular season, five team sit tied for second place with a 10-7 conference record. Those teams are: Ohio, Kent State, Buffalo, Ball State and Western Michigan. The Akron Zips have already locked up the regular season title and the number one seed.

With a win, Ohio can finish no lower than the fourth seed, meaning with a win, they go directly to Cleveland; something head coach Saul Phillips said has been a goal of theirs all year long.

Must win? No, but one Phillips really wants.

“It’s been a goal of ours to get to Cleveland from the beginning. We fell short the last two times. I really want this one,” Phillips said. “It is my strong preference to go directly to Cleveland. There’s one way to do that.”

Outside of wanting to get that important bye, Ohio wants to get a win for their seniors. They will be honoring Antonio Campbell, Kenny Kaminski and Drew Crabtree. Crabtree will not start but Phillips said if given a chance Crabtree would play early.

Crabtree, a walk-on, has meant more to this team than just a body in practice to guard Jaaron Simmons. Several players and even Phillips have called him a leader in the locker room. Crabtree is widely respected by his teammates. Gavin Block said he would give up his starting spot to let Crabtree start, Phillips said. Phillips said he wanted to start Crabtree but did not want to do anything different.

“Drew has been one of the steadiest figures in the locker room that I have ever had on a team,” Phillips said. “I’ve enjoyed every second that I have been around him.”

Kaminski, a transfer from Michigan State, has been open about how much Ohio has meant to him. He got engaged before the season and has really found himself as a person.

“Kenny, total transformation from the day he stepped foot on campus here,” Phillips said. “Just as a person the journey he has taken here, the maturity he has gained has been terrific.”

And for Campbell, his season was shortened. But his time at Ohio will leave a lasting impact.

Campbell went from averaging three points and two rebounds to winning MAC Player of the Year.

“You watch him evolve into a guy that was overlooked coming in before I was here to becoming the best player in the league,” Phillips said. “To see a guy take that journey is really rewarding.”

Each of the seniors have also had an impact on Jordan Dartis, one of the team’s younger players.

“I came here as a freshman and Kenny was a big influence on me,” Dartis said. “He made me feel really welcomed to the team, brought me in with open arms. Tony the goofy personality he has, just made me feel welcomed, made me feel comfortable. He made me feel more comfortable as a player on the court and off the court. I respect all of those seniors. Very much.”

Ohio beat Miami 10 days ago, in Oxford, 79-62. In that game, Ohio held Freshman of the Year candidate Marcus Weathers to just 10 points. For Ohio, Jason Carter made a strong case for that same honor with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.