ATHENS, Ohio — Ohio University plans to introduce Jim Christian as its next basketball coach on Tuesday, hoping he can build on the program’s best NCAA tournament showing in 48 years.
Christian will be returning to the Mid-American Conference, where he had a lot of success with Kent State. He won at least 20 games in each of his six seasons there from 2002-08, leading the Golden Flashes to the NCAA tournament in 2006 and 2008 before moving to TCU.
TCU confirmed on Monday evening that Christian was leaving. Although Ohio declined to discuss Christian’s hiring ahead of the news conference, Bobcats point guard D.J. Cooper tweeted that he was the next coach.
The Bobcats reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament under coach John Groce and took North Carolina to overtime before losing. Groce, who was an assistant to Thad Matta at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, was hired as Illinois’ head coach last week.
The Bobcats are hoping they can become more than a one-year sensation. They reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament in 1964, then failed to get beyond the tournament’s opening weekend until this year.
The Bobcats lost opening NCAA tournament games in 1965, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Ohio beat Illinois State in 1983, then lost to Kentucky. The Bobcats also had opening losses in 1985, 1994 and 2005.
They’ve been ranked in the AP poll during only four seasons in their history. Ohio was No. 18 for one week during the 1959-60 season. The Bobcats were consistently ranked and made it up to No. 5 during the 1969-70 season — followed by a first-round NCAA loss to Notre Dame — and were ranked for one week during the 1971-72 season.
The Bobcats also were in the poll during the 1994-95 season, making it as high as No. 14 behind Gary Trent, a three-time league scoring champ known as the Shaq of the MAC.