The Ohio Bobcats are coming off a program record 29 wins and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. They were ranked 25th in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Yet, their beloved coach, who guided them to two MAC Championships and three NCAA Tournament wins in three years, is gone. John Groce left for Illinois and was replaced by Jim Christian, former TCU and Kent State head coach.
Christian led Kent State (2002-2008) to six straight 20 win seasons, compiling a 137-59 record, two MAC Tournament Championships and two MAC Coach of the Year awards. His .699 winning percentage is the best in conference history. Can he do the same with the Bobcats?
He inherits a veteran-laden squad returning its entire roster led by point guard D.J. Cooper. The Bobcats will be expected to do big things in 2012-2013 and, for the first time, will have to deal with the pressure to win. No longer can Ohio sneak up on teams like they have in years past.
The green and white will have a bullseye on their chest in conference play, with teams gunning for them every night. Instead of being the hunter, they will be the hunted. We'll see how they respond.
This team knows success is earned, not given. They must stay humble and hungry if they want to put together a similar run. Complacency should not be an issue with this deep, experienced roster brimming with talent.
The Bobcats will be 10 deep assuming everyone returns and stays healthy, but they must buy into Christian's system. There is bound to be some growing pains, but you can't over emphasize having guys like Cooper and Walter Offutt around to lead the team. These are guys who have been through the battles and command respect.
If the Bobcats want to keep building their program and put Ohio on the map, they must win consistently.
Here's an early look at what each player currently on the roster must do to improve during the long offseason.