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Ohio Bobcats
Ohio Bobcats
School Name: Ohio University
Location: Athens, Ohio
Arena: Convocation Center
Capacity: 13,080
Conference: Big 10
Head coach: John Groce

The Ohio Bobcats men’s basketball team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Ohio University. The team represents the university as a member of the Mid-American Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the Division 1 level. The Bobcats have played their home games in the Convocation Center since 1968.

The first Ohio basketball game occurred in 1907 when the Bobcats defeated the Parkersburg YMCA 46-9. Since that day, Ohio has posted a .569 winning percentage over their 100 year history and a .566 winning percentage in their 61 years in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats have won 5 Mid-American Conference tournament titles in 1983, 1985, 1994, 2005, and 2010, as well as 9 MAC regular season titles in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1985, and 1994. Prior to joining the MAC, the 'Cats won an Ohio Athletic Conference title in 1921 and three Buckeye Athletic Association championships in 1931, 1933, and 1937. In addition, Ohio has played in the NCAA Tournament 12 times (second most in the MAC), appearing in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1983, 1985, 1994, 2005 and 2010. The Bobcats have been selected for the National Invitation Tournament 4 times in 1941 (runner-up), 1969, 1986, and 1995, while also appearing in the College Basketball Invitational in 2008. The program was ranked 86th in Street & Smith's 100 Greatest Basketball Programs of All Time, published in 2005.


1907-1922: Beginnings[]

The first intercollegiate men’s basketball game involving an Ohio University team was played in Athens in 1907 against the Parkersburg YMCA. Under the direction of coach James Jones, the Bobcats won the game by a score of 46-9 and continued their victories with a 5 game winning streak to start the season. Though the ‘Cats would go on to lose 4 games that season and earn a 7-4 record, by all accounts the season was a resounding success and a precursor of greatness to come.

Coach Jones would only be at Ohio for two more seasons, leading the team to records of 1-1 in the 1908-1909 campaign and 2-5 during the 1909-1910 season. Over the next three seasons, the basketball program was in a state of flux, with a new coach taking over the reins every year. Ohio joined the Ohio Athletic Conference in 1911, and started out poorly under coach Arthur Hinaman with a 2-9 record.

A bit of stability arrived to Athens with the hiring of coach Mark Banks in 1913. Banks would lead the program to a 3-10 season in his first year, but the ‘Cats surged to 11-4 in Bank’s second year at the helm. That 1914-1915 squad beat the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Miami Redskins twice, while also impressively defeating Wooster by a score of 51-20. Banks teams would fall off over the next several seasons, with the low point being a 2-14 mark in the 1916-1917 campaign. Banks would coach only one more year, with the Bobcats posting a 4-8 record in the 1918-1919 season.

Bank’s successor was Frank Gullum, who in his two years at the helm was 5-4 and 5-6, respectively. Gullum was succeeded by Russell Finsterwald, who led the team to an outstanding 15-2 season in his first year at the helm. That 1920-1921 team defeated the Miami Redskins and Cincinnati Bearcats each twice, and also earned Ohio’s first ever Ohio Athletic Association title. Finsterwald’s 1921-1922 squad was equally impressive, posting a 19-4 mark with two wins against the Bowling Green Falcons. Though Finsterwald would only last these two seasons, his work cannot be underestimated in steering the ‘Cats towards a legacy of success.

1922-1949: The Grover-Trautwein era[]

Butch Grover took the reins of the Ohio program in 1922, and led the team to a newfound level of success. His inaugural 1922-1923 season was marked by an 11-8 record, and wins over teams such as the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Marietta Pioneers. In 1923, the Bobcats marked their move into the brand new Men’s Gymnasium with a 16-5 record and a near miss of an Ohio Athletic Conference title. Several winning seasons later, the Bobcats moved into the challenging Buckeye Athletic Association in 1926 and started off with a sub-par 8-13 mark in the 1926-1927 season. The ‘Cats would soon adjust to the stiff competition, and in the 1931-1932 campaign, Ohio won its first ever Buckeye Athletic Association title with a 12-4 mark. Just two seasons later in 1933-1934, the Bobcats won yet another Buckeye Athletic Association championship with a 16-4 record and two wins over the archrival Miami Redskins. The 1936-1937 season marked Grover’s third and final Buckeye Athletic Association championship, and was perhaps his most impressive. The Bobcats were 18-3 that year, and earned wins over respected programs such as Xavier University and Dayton. Dutch Trautwein took over the reins of the Bobcat basketball program in 1938, and helped lead the team to a new level of success. He led the team to 12-8 and 19-6 records in his first two seasons, and perhaps best left his mark in the 1940-1941 campaign. That team earned a record of 18-4, and was selected for the National Invitation Tournament after a season which included wins over Xavier, Akron, Toledo, Cincinnati, and archrival Miami. With the play of Ohio legend Frank Baumholtz, the Bobcats finished as runners-up in the prestigious tournament to perennial power Long Island. Baumholtz, known as the “Midvale Marvel,” earned tournament MVP honors and All-American status for his NIT performance. Following his Ohio career, he became one of a rare fraternity to play two professional sports — basketball with the Cleveland Rebels in 1946-47 and baseball with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies over a 10-year career.

After several more winning seasons under Trautwein, the Bobcats undertook a new challenge in 1946 when they joined the upstart Mid-American Conference. The ‘Cats were 13-10 in their first year in the MAC, and followed that up with a 10-10 mark in the 1947-1948 season. The 1948-1949 season was Trautwein’s last, with the team compiling a 6-16 record while faced with a challenging schedule.

1949-1974: The seasons of Snyder[]

Ohio alumnus Jim Snyder took over for Trautwein in 1949. Ohio’s winningest coach, dubbed “Gentleman Jim”, guided the Bobcats for a quarter century. With star players like Jim Betts, Bunk Adams, Jerry Jackson, Don Hilt, Gerald McKee and Sports Illustrated cover boy Walter Luckett, Snyder won a total of seven MAC titles. His teams made seven NCAA appearances and finished with a winning record 21 times in 25 years.

Snyder’s first season was rather lackluster, with the ‘Cats posting a 6-14 record. He followed that up with a slight improvement in the 1950-1951 season and a 13-11 mark. The 1954-1955 season was a breakout year for Ohio, and the team earned a 16-5 record and key wins over Morehead State and Miami University. In 1960, Ohio won its first championship under Snyder, with the team taking the MAC by way of a 10-2 league record (17-8 overall). That squad defeated the likes of the Toledo Rockets, Bowling Green Falcons, and Miami Redskins en route to a 74-66 win over Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The 1959-1960 championship team was quickly followed up by another title in the very next year. The 1960-1961 team celebrated its move into the brand new Grover Center with a stunning 10-2 league record (17-7 overall), including a first place finish at the Canton Intercollegiate Tournament. A few short years later, the 1963-1964 team made its mark as perhaps the best in Ohio history. That team won the MAC title with a 10-2 league mark, and followed it up with NCAA tournament wins over the Louisville Cardinals and the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats. Though Snyder’s ‘Cats ultimately lost to the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in the “elite eight”, their legend continues as one of the best mid-major runs in tournament history.

Though the 1963-1964 team produced a record that was hard to top, the 1964-1965 edition did its best to compete with the previous year’s squad. They posted an amazing 11-1 MAC record and a 19-7 overall mark, though ultimately falling to Dayton in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Snyder’s teams would go through a slight drought until the 1968-1969 season, when they open up the Convocation Center with a win over the Indiana Hoosiers and subsequent postseason NIT appearance and a 17-9 record. The very next season, Ohio scored wins over No. 16 Ohio State and No. 13 Purdue while marching their way to another MAC championship.

The Bobcats christened the 1970’s with yet another MAC title under Snyder in the 1971-1972 season. Though the ‘Cats were just 15-11 that year, they were 7-3 in the MAC with wins over the No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers and the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes. Snyder’s Bobcats won a final MAC title in the 1973-1974 season, with a 16-11 record and wins over the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Though Snyder would never again coach the ‘Cats, his larger-than-life legacy lives on today.

1974-2001: Success, transition and disappointment[]

Not unlike most coaching legends, Jim Snyder proved difficult to replace. He was immediately succeeded by Dale Bandy, who struggled to a 69-89 record over his six year tenure at Ohio. Bandy was replaced by Danny Nee in 1980, with the Bobcats beginning a road back to prominence. His teams – led by the likes of John Deveraux, Robert Tatum, Paul Baron, John Rhodes, Eddie Hicks and Vic Alexander –tallied four consecutive 20-win seasons, a MAC Tournament title in 1983, an NIT matchup in the Convo versus the Ohio State Buckeyes and two trips to the NCAA tournament.

Nee didn’t leave Ohio’s cupboard bare when he left in 1986 to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers, with Billy Hahn taking over the reins. His teams were led by future NBA players Paul “Snoopy” Graham and Dave Jamerson, two of Ohio’s three 2,000-point scorers, that kept Convo crowds cheering with epic offensive performances. Jamerson’s 31.2 points per- game average in 1989-90 included a Convo-record 60-point blistering of the University of Charleston.

Despite offensive stars, Hahn’s teams struggled on the court. Hahn was replaced in 1989 by Larry Hunter, an Ohio alum who would lead the Bobcats throughout the 1990’s. Hunter’s teams exploded onto the national scene with the arrival of the “Shaq of the MAC”. Like a whirlwind, forward Gary Trent took the conference by storm. On his way to joining Graham and Jamerson atop the 2,000-point plateau, Trent was the MAC’s only three-time Player of the Year. Trent teamed with three-point marksman Geno Ford to guide Larry Hunter’s Bobcats to a MAC Championship in the 1993-1994 season. Ohio captured the conference tournament that season with a lopsided 89-66 victory over archrival Miami in the finals on ESPN.

Hunter, who played for Snyder, saw Ohio dismantle Ohio State in the Preseason NIT to open the following season. Impressive wins over 14th-ranked Virginia, George Washington and New Mexico State earned the Bobcats a Preseason NIT title and an accompanying national ranking. That team would go on to post a 24-10 (13-5 MAC) record, en route to an appearance in the post-season NIT and a win over George Washington University in the first round.

The Bobcats would struggle in the next few years under Hunter, with the low point being a 5-21 season in the 1997-1998 campaign. Though Hunter’s teams would rebound to post 18, 20, and 19 wins over the next three seasons, he was relieved of his duties in 2001 due to a lack of success in the postseason. His successor would be Tim O'Shea.

2001-2008: The Tim O’Shea era[]

A new era in Ohio basketball began in 2001 when Boston College assistant Tim O'Shea became the Bobcats’ 15th head coach. The shot blocking, slam dunking and three-point shooting displays of Patrick Flomo, Brandon Hunter and Steve Esterkamp delighted fans in The Convo’s newly christened student section, the O Zone. The NBA came calling for Hunter once his playing days were complete as he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2003 draft. Esterkamp continues to play professionally overseas as well.

The 2004-2005 edition brought back memories of past success as the Bobcats made a magical run in March to reach the “Big Dance.” Ohio went 13-1 in The Convo and won 13 of their final 17 games. O’Shea’s charges dropped Marshall, Kent State, and Miami in the preliminary rounds of the MAC Tournament before scoring an epic 80-79 overtime victory over Buffalo in the championship to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Despite a furious second-half comeback against the Southeastern Conference champion Florida Gators, the Bobcats’ season ended in the first round. That squad served notice, though, that Ohio has returned as one of the top programs in the MAC.

The 2005-2006 ‘Cats proved successful as well, posting a 19-11 record with wins over teams such as Rhode Island and Samford, and a close loss to Kentucky. The 2006-2007 team also posted 19 wins, with a final record of 19-13. A 20 win campaign was had in the 2007-2008 season, including notable non-conference wins over Maryland, St. John's, George Mason, and Bucknell. The team was extended an invite to the College Basketball Invitational, where the Bobcats advanced to the second round.

On June 23, 2008, O'Shea announced he was leaving the Bobcats team to become head coach at Bryant University.

2008-present: John Groce takes the reins[]

On June 27, 2008, former Ohio State Buckeyes associate head coach John Groce was named the sixteenth head coach in Bobcats history. Groce brings fourteen years of assistant coaching experience to Athens, along with a pair of outright Big Ten regular-season titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances, a berth in the 2007 NCAA National Championship game and the 2008 NIT title.

The Bobcats finished the 2009-2010 regular season with a 17-14 overall record and a 7-9 record in MAC play, earning them the ninth seed in their conference tournament. They won four straight games in the conference tournament to claim the MAC's automatic bid. Placed into the Midwest region as a 14 seed, Ohio shocked 3rd-seeded and 12th ranked Georgetown 97-83. The Bobcats took a 12 point lead into halftime and the Hoyas never got closer than a 7 point deficit the rest of the way.

Postseason results[]

NCAA Tournament Results[]

The Bobcats have appeared in twelve NCAA Tournaments. Their combined record is 5–13.

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
1960 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Regional Third Place Game
Notre Dame
Georgia Tech
Western Kentucky
W 74–66
L 57–54
L 97–87
1961 First Round Louisville L 76–70
1964 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
W 71–69 OT
W 85–69
L 69–57
1965 First Round Dayton L 66–65
1970 First Round Notre Dame L 112–82
1972 First Round Marquette L 73–49
1974 First Round Marquette L 85–59
1983 First Round
Second Round
Illinois State
W 51–49
L 57–40
1985 First Round Kansas L 49–38
1994 First Round Indiana L 84–72
2005 First Round Florida L 67–62
2010 First Round
Second Round
W 97–83
L 83–68

National Invitation Tournament Results[]

Ohio has been selected to participate in four National Invitation Tournaments. Their combined record is 4–4.

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
1941 First Round
Long Island
W 55–40
W 45–43
L 56–42
1969 First Round
Second Round
West Texas State
W 82–80
L 75–64
1986 First Round Ohio State L 65–62
1995 First Round
Second Round
George Washington
W 83–71
L 66–62

College Basketball Invitational Results[]

The Bobcats appeared in the first ever College Basketball Invitational in 2008. Their combined record is 1–1.

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
2008 First Round
Second Round
W 80–74
L 79–73

Coaching staff[]

Name Position Year Former Ohio positions held Alma mater
John Groce Head Coach 2008 Taylor University 1994
Dustin Ford Assistant Coach 2008 Ohio University 2001
Chris Holtmann Assistant Coach 2008 Taylor University 1994
Jamall Walker Assistant Coach 2008 Saint Louis University 2000
Chris Cobbins Graduate Manager 2008 Ohio Valley University 2006
Aaron Fuss Administrative Assistant 2008 Ohio State University 2005
Daniel Leeworthy Graduate Manager 2008 BYU-Hawaii 2006

Bobcat basketball traditions[]

Ohio is a tradition-rich school, and many of those traditions are associated with athletics events, especially basketball. Some Ohio traditions include:

  • Rufus the Bobcat - The school mascot, a fierce yet friendly looking Bobcat that always sports an Ohio jersey with a number "1" on the back.
  • Ohio Varsity Band - The pep band which performs at every basketball game.
  • "Stand Up and Cheer" - Ohio's fight song
  • "Alma Mater, Ohio" - Ohio's alma mater song
  • The "O Zone" - The student cheering section at every Ohio men's basketball game.


Ohio's archrival is Miami University. "The Battle of the Bricks" is an annual all-sports rivalry competition between the Ohio Bobcats and the Miami RedHawks athletic programs. The name "Battle of the Bricks" evolved from each school's reputation of having a campus of red brick buildings. Each varsity athletic competition in which the Bobcats and RedHawks meet including tournament play is counted as part of the years series record. At the conclusion of each academic year, the school with the most varsity wins takes the trophy back to their campus for the following year.

Another Ohio rival is Marshall University. The annual football game between Ohio and Marshall is called "The Battle for the Bell", with a traveling bell trophy as the prize for the victor. Due to Marshall's recent move to Conference USA, this rivalry game will not be played for several years. However, athletics officials at each school are working to continue this annual series in the non-conference season.

All-time records[]

All-time coaching records[]

Head Coach Period W-L Record Win % Ohio Athletic Association Championships Buckeye Athletic Association Championships MAC Championships
James C. Jones 1907-1910 10-10 .500 n/a n/a n/a
James Corbett 1910-1911 3-4 .428 n/a n/a n/a
Arthur W. Hinaman 1911-1912 2-9 .181 0 n/a n/a
C.M. Douthit 1912-1913 5-8 .384 0 n/a n/a
Mark B. Banks 1913-1918 28-43 .394 0 n/a n/a
Frank Gullum 1918-1920 10-10 .500 0 n/a n/a
Russel W. Finsterwald 1920-1922 34-6 .850 1 n/a n/a
Butch Grover 1922-1938 192-129 .598 0 3 n/a
“Dutch” Trautwein 1938-1949 136-90 .601 n/a 0 n/a
Jim Snyder 1949-1974 355-245 .592 n/a n/a 7
Dale Bandy 1974-1980 69-89 .436 n/a n/a 0
Danny Nee 1980-1986 107-67 .614 n/a n/a 2
Billy Hahn 1986-1989 42-45 .482 n/a n/a 0
Larry Hunter 1989-2001 204-148 .580 n/a n/a 1
Tim O'Shea 2001-2008 120-95 .558 n/a n/a 1
John Groce 2008-Present 37-32 .536 n/a n/a 1
TOTALS 1907-2008 1,332-1015 .568 1 3 12

Source: Ohio Basketball Media Guide

All-time MAC records[]

The Bobcats have won 5 Mid-American Conference tournament titles in 1983, 1985, 1994, 2005 and 2010 as well as 9 MAC regular season titles in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1974,1985, and 1994. Presently, at the end of the 2008-2009 MAC season, Ohio owns an all-time MAC record of 560-434 (.563) in 61 seasons of league competition.

Opponent W-L record
Akron 30-28
Ball State 37-31
Bowling Green 59-69
Buffalo 20-6
Central Michigan 42-24
Eastern Michigan 42-21
Kent State 86-40
Miami University 95-88
Northern Illinois 26-16
Toledo 63-53
Western Michigan 60-59
TOTAL 560-434

Ohio's all-time NBA draft selections[]




All-time record book[]


External Links[]