Oiler men ranked first in preseason GLIAC South poll
By Kevin Schrock
For 34 straight seasons the University of Findlay Men’s basketball team has posted a winning record. A year ago the Oilers finished 20-8 but a Ferris State buzzer beater ended their season in the first round of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tournament. It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but with a new season right around the corner, they finally get their chance at redemption.
“We’re excited to get going,” said Findlay coach Charlie Ernst. “Our season ended a little sooner than we wanted it to last year so we’re anxious to get started.”
One leadership component that the Oilers will miss from last year’s team are seniors Dylan Kaufman and John Staley. The duo were both major contributors on the court but that might not be where they are missed the most.
“Nothing against Dylan and John but I think our program is at the point where we can find ways to replace their production on the court,” said Ernst. “Where we are going to miss them most is their passion that they brought. We talked to the seniors about keeping that as soon as the season ended last year.”
Ricardo Smith and Tyler Stern-Tucker are the two seniors on this year’s squad and they are accompanied by a large group of juniors. Among those juniors are preseason All-GLIAC picks Martyce Kimbrough and Taren Sullivan.
Kimbrough, whose injury status had been in question coming into the year, seems to be of little concern.
“We had been nursing it a little bit in the preseason by watching his minutes a little bit,” said Ernst. “I don’t think our fans will be able to notice any difference though once he gets on the court.”
That will come as a relief to Oiler fans after watching the Lima native lead the team with 16 points per game a year ago. They also saw him drop a career-high 30 points in that final game against Ferris State en route to being named a first team All-GLIAC performer.
Sullivan has been almost as good for the Oilers. He averaged 12.6 points per game last year to go along with 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Underneath the Oilers do have some youth that will have to take the spot that John Staley had been filling. Alex White, who averaged a block a game last year, will most likely be the go to in that spot. Aaron Overheiser, who took a red shirt season last year, will also look to get in the action in his freshman season. Tyler Stern-Tucker would also be a viable option for Findlay in that spot.
Things get started for the Oilers on Friday when they travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers in an exhibition matchup. The division one program will give the Oilers a chance early on to see just how good they are.
The first game in Croy Gymnasium will be on Nov. 13 against the University of Illinois Springfield.