Men's basketball: Mixed feelings for top coach’s new gig

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Jon Smith left the Ohio basketball program early because of Jim Christian, who on Thursday left Ohio to take Boston College’s head coaching job.

Smith said that Christian, who spent two seasons in Athens, is one of the main reasons he decided to leave from the team just before Ohio’s Tournament first round game against Cleveland State.

“It didn’t have anything to do with the CIT, it didn’t have anything to do with my teammates, it didn’t have anything to do with the athletic director or the president,” Smith said. “As you can see, the commitment to OU wasn’t what it was supposed to be on some other people’s part.”

Smith, a redshirt senior forward, also said that he didn’t feel Christian was a proper representative for the program.

“I just felt like the school wasn’t being represented to the fullest as the way I would like it to be represented,” he said. “I just didn’t feel like the guy in charge (Christian) had the best motive, so it just is what it is.”

Smith said he wouldn’t comment on whether other players on the team feel the way he does about Christian.

“I can’t speak for anybody but myself,” he said. “I’m sure some might, some might not. I would never know. I just speak for myself.”

Smith is still enrolled at Ohio University and is finishing his year with online classes.

He said he thought Christian wasn’t the right man for the job last season and is excited what this new coaching search could bring.

“I picked up on this last year,” Smith said. “But I think it’s a good thing you have a new coach coming in or what not. I think it’s really going to help a lot of guys out and really help the program. Hopefully they can choose the right guy this time.”

Other players reacted to the news of Christian’s departure on Twitter with sophomore forward Treg Setty tweeting, “Blessing in disguise” following a report that confirmed Christian’s departure.

In a Twitter direct message conversation with The Post, senior guard Ricardo Johnson said he’s “assuming (Christian) did what was best for his family.”
Former Bobcats guard D.J. Cooper also chimed in by tweeting, “I read the news.. Congrats coach Christian… bring back @DustinFord.”

Dustin Ford was an assistant coach at Ohio under John Groce and followed him to Illinois. He was a popular choice to replace Groce before Christian was hired in 2012.

And commit Tariq Owens, who intends to be released from his letter of intent to the Bobcats, said he won’t consider playing for Ohio now that Christian has left, as he doesn’t think there’s enough time for him to get to know the new staff.

Owens said he isn’t sure whether he’d consider following Christian to Boston College.


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