By Kwesi Caldwell
The University of Findlay Men’s basketball team recently ended its run in the Division II NCAA Midwest Regional Quarterfinal with an 87-81 loss to Ferris State University. Capping off what looked to be a promising year, the Oilers ended their season with a 19-11 record.
This is not the first time the team has had such success like this either. Over the past 11 seasons the men’s team has had winning records for each of those said seasons. With different leaders on the floor helping contribute to the goal of one day winning the NCAA DII National Championship.
Seniors Tre ‘Maine Gray, and Anthony Masterlasco are two of UF’s team captains and vocal leaders on the team. Gray says they go into the season with a purpose each year.
setting spoke about their experiences with the team and what they believe has led to the teams well deserved respect and success over this extended period.
“The main goals the team strive for is being consistent in play even though sometimes it seems impossible cause of some many variables you can’t prepare for,” Gray said. “Also of course win the GMAC and make it to the national tournament.”
The Oilers pride themselves on being able to come together as a unit in order to achieve the overall team goals which are to capture the conference championship, as well as achieve a post season tournament berth.
“The culture here at Findlay exceeds that of so many other basketball programs. Professional approach, dedication, hard work, passion, and willingness to learn is what makes Findlay such a powerhouse division 2 program,” Masterlasco said. “Whether it be in the summertime running open gyms or time in the weight room, the guys here work so hard and push one another to get better on a daily basis.”
“Being able to learn and adjust to the college basketball lifestyle helps us out in so many ways. My teammates here at Findlay work so hard to become the best player they can be, and I believe this is why we put ourselves in positions to play in the NCAA tournament and compete for championships.”
The team has seen appearances in the last five GMAC (Great Midwest Athletic Conference) tournaments under the leadership of head coach Charlie Ernst. Coach Ernst has been with the university for what is going on his 11th season as head coach and 30th year with the institution.
“My relationship with Coach Ernst and (associate head coach Dan) Shardo grew a lot. They didn’t know what my potential really was until like the end of my second year here,” Gray said. “They are the best coaches I’ve had though definitely. Coach Ernst is a pure hearted person, and I couldn’t ask for another coach who looks out for his guys in so many ways even off the court.”
However, Coach Ernst believes it’s vice versa and thinks the players are the true reason as to why the university has been so successful while he has been leading the Oilers.
“Good players committed players. Guys that truly embrace winning over individual awards,” Ernst said “(I’m thinking about guys like Tre’ Maine. Tre is a great example of that, one of many examples that we have been blessed to have here over many years.”
Over the extended period with the university Ernst believes that if the players are not on the same page come game time, then it does not matter what the coach says or does, the team has already beaten themselves.
“In good programs there is always sacrifice. Otherwise, it is probably not a winning team,” Ernst said. “Finding good players who are continuously looking to become better and reach a common goal is what has made our team so successful. The continuity of the guys we have here is what drives it all.”