Men’s team ranked fifth in the ‘competitive’ OAC


Though they fought their way through a tough OAC Tournament last year, winning three straight games on the road to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and eventually falling in the second round in overtime, the No. 22 Baldwin Wallace Men’s Basketball team opens as just the fifth ranked team in the OAC. Not only is that a testament of losing two starters, the Yellow Jackets are also in one of the most competitive conferences in Division III basketball, “The OAC is incredibly competitive. Last year Otterbein and Ohio Northern did not make the OAC tournament. Both programs have won the national Championship. Otterbein in 2002 and ONU in 1993,” Head Coach Tom Heil said. “Every OAC win is so valuable. If you are not ready to play in this league you will get beat. Every team has talented players and great coaches. As a competitor it doesn’t get any better than competing in the OAC. We have a lot of guys that have been through the battles and we hope that will help us be ready to compete every single night we take the floor.”

After losing Jay Battle and Kyle Nader to graduation, the team looks to replace the scoring the ranks Battle at No. 12 in BW’s all-time scoring leaders and replace Nader’s leadership on the court. Nader also averaged nine points and nearly five rebounds per game. Heil said that the whole team will look to improve to replace those two players, “We will certainly miss them,” Heil said.  “A lot of guys improved, and we added a recruiting class we are very excited about. No two individual players will replace Kyle and Jay. Our goal is to do it collectively by everyone working every day to continue to improve their game.”

Leading the team now are three returning starters from last season. Michael Quiring, who started all 30 games last season returns after averaging over 10 points and led the team with more than three assists per game. Also returning with Quiring is Tyler Colombo, who led the starters with over nine points and five rebounds per game last season. The last starter returning is Luke Schaefer, who started 22 games, averaging eight points and nearly three rebounds per game.

In addition, there are eight total returning starters on the Yellow Jacket squad, whose experience will help guide BW toward another NCAA tournament berth. “Many of our seniors have been a part of a lot of OAC games. The OAC is as good of a conference top to bottom as there is in the country,” Heil said. “We will rely heavily on our seniors to ensure that we work hard to focus on getting better every day and evolving as a team. We want to play our best basketball in February and March. We have a lot of faith in our senior class.”

The seniors also have the unique role of leading the team in the locker room and on the practice court. “We have a great group of seniors who we are confident will lead the way this year,” Heil said. “They will continue to drive the focus on improving each and every day to the rest of the guys in the program.”

And while the stars of this team have been seniors, namely Battle last season and Cam Kuhn in 2017, Heil said that there is just as much opportunity for underclassmen this season.

“The expectation within our program is that every person is diligently working to improve regardless of their role to ensure that when their number is called, they are ready to play,” Heil said. “I could see several different guys stepping up when they get their opportunity. Those moments are some of the best moments as a coach. Watching a guy that has worked hard get a chance to perform and rise to the occasion is really fun.”

Though competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament is the ultimate goal, Heil know that the team just can’t look ahead to March basketball, rather March basketball is something that is earned throughout a season.

“We have one goal as a basketball program and that is to get better every single time we practice, lift, or watch film and that truly is our goal. If we can do that and have guys that are committed to the team regardless of their individual role or accolades, then there is a good chance we will have opportunities to play basketball in March,” Heil said.

“We want to compete on a national level and play and advance in the NCAA tournament. The only way that becomes a reality is if we are committed to improving each day.”

The Men open the season at home against Bethany College on Tuesday Nov. 12, they open OAC play at home against Marietta on Nov. 26.