Mail Time! What about next year, Bobcat hoops, and headlines…

Thanks for checking out the latest installment of the ‘Mail Time!’ series here at SUACBobcats.com, which just turned three weeks old.

First off, I want to send along my appreciation and gratitude toward everyone who has checked out the site, offered feedback, or just passed along encouraging words. It’s been a challenge so far, balancing everything else going on while trying to get this new enterprise off the ground.

Ohio sophomore wing Ben Roderick in preseason practice in 2019. Photo by Jason Arkley

November is, typically, one of the busier times of the year for an all-around sports writer type and 2020 is no exception. Men’s and women’s basketball is tipping off for Ohio, the Bobcats’ football team is endeavoring to get through a shortened MAC slate, and my ‘other’ jobs have been as busy as ever.

Along those lines, I want to let anyone who wants to support the site financially in the short term know there is an option available. I’m on Venmo — look me up @Jason-Arkley – and if you want to help support the site and the work I’m doing here (and hope to do more of) you can drop donations/gifts/support immediately there.

There are still plans on the way for a subscription service, with the website serving more as a special projects window, but those won’t be implemented until 2021. Any help and support in the interim would be sincerely appreciated.

If you want to see your question answered here, or just let me know something, drop by the contact page here at SUACBobcats.com and leave me a note. I do read them all, and if I’m slow in responding that’s an indictment on my schedule not your skill as an email writer.

 Let’s get on to an abbreviated selection of thoughts and questions…

Thanks for answering my question last week. I really appreciate it. Since this year is essentially a wash, what does it mean for incoming freshmen and also this year’s seniors? – Brian W.

Brian, here, I am assuming is talking football. And the answer is…we don’t really know yet.

The NCAA has extended a one-time offer in 2020 of (basically) allowing every football player to not use a season of eligibility this fall, whether they played or not.

Whether it’s a true freshman, or a fifth-year senior, it doesn’t matter. A player’s eligibility, in the eyes of the NCAA anyway, won’t be affected by playing time in 2020.

However, there’s been no indication yet how this might play out for the Ohio University football roster. How many seniors, or fifth-year players, will elect to come back? What kind of scholarship limit will the NCAA have in place for the 2021 season? Will Ohio, the university, offer an expanded roster – and cover the cost that entails – next season if allowed to by the NCAA?

There’s been little movement from OU’s end in answering those questions so far. It’ll be one of the most important things to iron out once the season ends. As for the players, I think most aren’t thinking that far ahead just yet. They’re just trying to play what’s left of the season.

Keep in mind, OU already ‘lost’ one of its six games this season thanks to a roster hole because of testing/contact tracing when the Nov. 17 game at Miami was postponed.

Here’s Ohio fifth-year senior tight end Adam Luehrman on this topic:

“I just need to start taking this (2020 season) in more because you never know when a game might be your last one,” Luehrman said Tuesday. “(As for 2020) I haven’t made any decision on that yet. I’m leaving my options open, but we haven’t really decided on anything.”

And I don’t think many programs in the country have decided on anything yet either.

A few questions for you on the basketball team since the season kicks off this week… What are your initial impressions of the newcomers? Who stands out to you from what you’ve heard? The starting 5 seems to be fairly straight forward with Preston, McDay, Roderick, BVP and Wilson/Miguel. Who else do you see getting valuable minutes? – Brian W.

Here’s more from Brian, who sets SUACBobcats.com records for letters in a single column and multiple-week appearances.

First, I agree with Brian’s assessment of Ohio’s ‘first five.’ Jason Preston, Lunden McDay and Ben Vander Plas are all returning starters, and all regarded among the upper end of the MAC in terms of their position and/or role. All three are in line for big minutes. Ben Roderick, if he can avoid last year’s injury bug, should also be a major-minutes guy, and the center tandem of Dwight Wilson III and Rifen Miguel have the experience/physical stature that Jeff Boals prizes from the position.

As for impressions on the newcomers, I’ll be like everyone else – eagerly awaiting data. Like with football, Ohio’s basketball practices have been shut off completely from the media and/or observers. I’m not even supposed to be inside the Convo, like at all, right now unless it’s for games. So I haven’t had glimpses of any of the four freshmen brought in.

I can tell you what I’ve heard and that is Jalen White (6-5 G from Texas) is billed as a top-notch shooter – Boals called him a “shot maker” – and that summer recruit Mark Sears (a 6-1 G from Muscle Shoals, Ala. by way of Hargrave Academy) has been a terrific late find. Add in versatile forward Sam Towns (6-9, Columbus, Pickerington Central) and there are certainly first-year guys who will be involved (I believe) in the rotation.

Sophomore center Nolan Foster will also be in the rotation once fully healthy; he’s dealt with a knee sprain in the preseason. As for sophomore guard Miles Brown and sophomore forward Mason McMurray, I don’t know what to expect. Brown came on at the end of last season, but McMurry might be the odd-man out for forward minutes in 2020-21.

I realize I’ve kind of listed everyone, but I think it’s important to get a look at the freshman as soon as possible. There’s not much of a non-con schedule this year, and with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, there will be potentially more of a need for depth than ever before.

Jason, Great to see your blog. As an OU alum and former sports writer (Bloomington, Ind. Herald-Times), I am enjoying it – as I did your work with the (Athens Messenger). I noticed that in two of your recent headlines you have Contract Tracing, rather than Contact Tracing. I know from experience it’s not easy to be your own copyeditor, so I thought I’d mention it. I look forward to following your reporting this season and wish you the best. — Doug W.

Thanks for reading Doug, and thanks for the editing. Both headlines have been updated.

Yes, it’s a one-man operation here so there will be mistakes and things that slip by. I hope readers will understand and be supportive through this growing process. I’m counting on readers, in part, to help hold me accountable for mistakes and errors. Is it ideal? No. But it’s where we’re at.

That does it for this edition of ‘Mail Time!’ More posts are coming all weekend long, so check back often.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

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