By: Collin Frazier
Coach Ernst is looking to adjust the team for success
While the majority of Oiler Nation was relaxing during the holiday season, the Men’s Basketball Team was hard at work, winning six straight games between Dec. 3 and Jan. 8. This successful run had earned the Oilers a sixth-ranked spot in the NCAA DII Men’s Basketball Rankings. Head Coach Charlie Ernst credits both experience and managing to stay healthy to this success (this interview was conducted via email on Jan. 14 prior to their match against Tiffin).
“Well we have an experienced group returning,” Ernst stated. “Programs have been limited and sporadic in terms of daily practice. As we went into the season the programs with experience have definitely benefited early. On top of that, we have had one program shutdown, but that occurred in October. We have remained healthy and that has been equally key.”
On top of a six-game winning streak, Sophomore Forward Nathan Burns each G-MAC Player of the Week honors the week of Dec. 14. Ernst says Burns’ drive and respect are what earned him this honor.
“Nathan is a very competitive kid and expects much of himself in both practice and games,” he said. “He has earned the respect of others because he competes so hard. He has a versatile game and can be a tough match-up for some people.”
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the Oilers’ winning streak is no exception. The Oilers suffered their first loss of the season on Jan. 10 to Walsh with a final score of 86-60. This loss also dropped the Oilers from rank 6 to rank 11. While Ernst does not pay much attention to rankings, he does agree that it has an impact on the players; he and the team will work to overcome this.
“The ranking means more to the players than it does to me,” Ernst commented. “As I told them, the best teams in our conference, region, or nation must have practices, preparation, and be building habits that are of championship caliber. We had slippage in those areas leading up to Walsh. We have worked this week to build better habits and set high expectations for ourselves individually in our preparation. You learn a lot about your team after a loss.”
One aspect that Ernst believes the team can improve upon is their identity.
“Like any team, we are still trying to find out what we do best and what our identity is,” Ernst explained. “We still haven’t come close to reaching our potential and there is no guarantee that we will. We just need to keep working hard, being unselfish, and expect more of ourselves individually each day. If we do that, we can reach our full potential at some point and do it soon enough to make a run at the conference title. That is really our main goal at this point.”
Currently, the Oilers are in the middle of a road trip. Like any university-related event, a concern for exposure to COVID-19 will arise. Surprisingly, Coach Ernst is concerned about what happens here at UF, rather than on the road.
“To be honest, I am more concerned about our team staying safe when we are at home in Findlay,” Ernst proclaimed. “When we are on the road, I have complete control of their whereabouts and what they are doing. I am also concerned with the beginning of the second semester, as students/faculty/Staff return to campus. It has basically been an empty campus since before Thanksgiving and that has helped keep our players healthy.”
The Oilers continue their 2020-2021 campaign Jan. 21, when they travel to Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky.
[Photo courtesy of the University of Findlay Newsroom.]