With a new cast of characters on the court, second-year Ohio head coach Saul Phillips showed off his team's depth.
11 different players saw action, with many of them making their Ohio debuts, as the Bobcats (1-0) kicked off their season with an 85-75 win against Florida Gulf Coast (0-1).
Kenny Kaminski and Jaaron Simmons stood out from the pack newcomers, shaking off the rust of missing the entire 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules. The duo combined for 37 points with Simmons finishing with an additional seven assists.
Kaminski barely missed a double-double, hauling in nine rebounds.
On the defensive end, Phillips applauded Kaminski for matching up with a six-foot-eight, 250 pound Antravious Simmons who was cleared to play by the NCAA just a day prior to tip-off.
"He had to guard a guy about 600 pounds more than what he thought he had to guard," Phillips said.
More familiar faces contributed to the cause as well. Tony Campbell looked assertive under the basket, creating chances for himself and taking advantage of slick ball movement in the paint. Campbell finished with 11 points and six boards despite playing just 14 minutes because of foul trouble.
Wadly Mompremier made his presence felt in the paint as well, finishing with a double-double of 12 boards and 12 points, seven of those boards came on the offensive glass, while Treg Setty provided some much-needed energy plays and 9 points of his own.
"Wadly was everywhere," Phillips said. "I don't know how many times I thought the play was over and (Mompremier) came out of nowhere."
Campbell sat early in the second half with three fouls, but Phillips still felt comfortable leaving Mompremier in the game. After an injury-filled season, Phillips was pleased to see Mompremier pick up extra minutes and show several quick bursts of energy.
"Wadly plays like a grease fire," Phillips said. "The most positive grease fire you can have."
Ohio finished with a 44-31 advantage on the boards, but it was Florida Gulf Coast who made the point to attack down low. Antravious Simmons and Marc-Eddy Norelia got a handful of opportunities early as Ohio and Florida Gulf Coast exchanged blows to begin the contest.
Phillips began to shuffle players in and out early on with varied levels of success. Ohio's offense looked fluid and swift at times, while slightly more stagnant at others. Enough good looks and a 21-10 advantage on the glass gave Ohio a 43-36 lead at the break.
Ohio began to cushion its lead early in the second half, thanks to fast-paced play and with slick ball movement seen in previously in the first half. The Bobcats built their lead up to 67-54 with 8:49 to play before they went into prevent defense mode.
Florida Gulf Coast took advantage of some sluggish Ohio defense late to pull back within single-digits, but Ohio did well from the free throw line to keep the Eagles at bay. 13 of Simmons's 20 points came from the charity stripe.
Phillips did not want to get too ahead of himself when putting Ohio's season-opener in perspective, but did express a smidgen of excitement.
"If this is a baseline for where we are, then I'm excited for the future."
Ohio will take on Tennessee State on Monday, Nov. 16.