Calvin Mattheis | Ohio Athletics

Ohio’s Fight and Resiliency is Something Saul Phillips Will Remember

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On Jan. 14 against Eastern Michigan, the Ohio Bobcats lost Antonio Campbell for the year.

When that happened, everybody wrote them off. Nobody thought they could win the Mid-American Conference and make the NCAA tournament.

Except the players and coaches.

A true freshman was thrust into the starting line up and forced to play out of position. Their rotation was only seven or eight deep. Despite all of that, the Bobcats finished the year as the number two seed and were close to making the MAC tournament finals.

Ohio fought through adversity and showed a great amount of resiliency all year.

“Yeah, it’s a little hard to take an over‑the‑top view from this podium right now,” head coach Saul Phillips said after their loss to Kent State on Friday. “I know this, and some of you guys that have been around the team all year long, if you didn’t concede that this group exceeded expectations after what we went through, then you just don’t like me or the team. That’s all there is to it.”

Phillips is proud of the fight his team showed this year. Most teams would have crumbled and fallen apart. But not this team. The Campbell injury brought them even closer. They developed a make no excuse attitude. Their preseason goal was to win the MAC and make the “Big Dance” and that didn’t change because of an injury.

“This group has been dealing with adversity since early January, and throughout the whole time what’s been amazing is how they refused to let losing a league MVP as an excuse,” Phillips said. “I don’t think I’ve had a group that showed the resiliency and togetherness throughout this whole process. Every fiber of my being is proud of what they accomplished.”

Jason Carter gave fans a taste of what will come and every fan should be excited. Carter had three 20-point games and in his first tournament game had 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Jaaron Simmons took his game to a whole other level. His drive to win was contagious throughout the team. Simmons is already thing about next year and it using that drive as fuel for next year.

“I mean, it’s tough. It’s tough to lose any game,” Simmons said. “It’s tough to lose my seniors, my brothers, but you know, we going to keep our head up, we going to get back in the gym, get back in the weight room, get better, and we’ll be playing on Saturday next year.”