Heidelberg, John Carroll square off in key OAC tilt

NOTE: Eyeoncleveland founder John Kerezy is on break between semesters at Cuyahoga Community College, where he’s an associate professor of Media & Journalism Studies. He’s taking in a couple of Division III basketball contests, beginning with January 4 at John Carroll. Here’s the preview story. Tomorrow there’ll be a post-game story.

JANUARY 4 — Heidelberg, surprise men’s basketball leaders in the Ohio Athletic Conference, comes to John Carroll University tonight for a 7 p.m. contest at the DeCarlo Center.  Both the Blue Streaks and Student Princes are 9-2 on the season. Heidelberg — which was tabbed for fourth place in the OAC pre-season coaches poll — is unbeaten at 4-0 in the OAC. John Carroll stands at 3-1 in the conference, tied for second with Marietta, Mt. Union and Otterbein. Here are the conference standings:

https://www.oac.org/sports/mbkb/2022-23/standings

Both John Carroll and Heidelberg went 1-1 in tournament action over the holidays. Heidelberg defeated Carnegie Mellon 91-85 on Thursday, before falling to host Wooster 68-65 in the Mose Hole Classic Tournament. John Carroll lost to the Univ. of Wisconsin-Superior in the first round of the Naples Classic on Thursday, but rebounded to beat Skidmore 83-78 on Friday.

“We know and understand that we didn’t play or compete at our best at Naples; however, the teams we competed against are a lot better than their records show,” says Pete Moran, John Carroll head men’s basketball coach. “Our guys are excited to start back up in the OAC. Heidelberg is a very good team that provides a lot of challenges for their opponents.”

The Blue Streaks are averaging 80.6 points per game (ppg), 12.2 more than their opponents, and are shooting .471 from the field and .356 from behind the 3-point arc. They excel at transition play, scoring an average of 21 ppg off turnovers.

Luke Frazier leads John Carroll in scoring with a 14.8 ppg average. Luke Chicone (14.1 ppg), Will Yontek (10.1 ppg) and Chase Topin (9.5 ppg) are the other top scorers. Henry Raynor leads the team in rebounding at 5.6 rebound per game (rpg), with Yontek right behind at 5.5 rpg.

Here’s a link to John Carroll’s team statistics:
https://jcusports.com/sports/mens-basketball/stats/2022-23

John Carroll made waves in Division III hoops last spring when it announced that five students had transferred from other college basketball programs (mainly Division I and II) to the Blue Streaks. “With all the new faces within our program, we are happy with our progression (thus far),” Moran explains. “All of these guys are local, and they have known each other since middle school. We understand that every experience we go through as a team is positive because it is a learning experience and an opportunity (for us) to grow.”

Moran says there are three keys to John Carroll doing well against ‘Berg. “We need to contain the basketball and perimeter and control the glass,” he says. “(We need) Good ball movement too.” 

Heidelberg men’s head basketball coach Andrew Bucheit has been striving to provide his team a new but stable environment for its games over break, before spring semester classes begin. We (the players) go from being on campus and doing things piece by piece during the semester to a different routine now.  We try to keep them active,” he explains. “We do shooting and lifting in the morning, then lunch, then practice our game plan, and review the scouting report for our next opponent.  We’ll do some evening activities as well … (it’s) a great bonding opportunity, as no one else is in class.”

Bucheit adds that competing in the Mose Hole Classic was a big plus for the Student Princes. “Carnegie Mellon and Wooster were both great opportunities for us,” he says “We try to do a nationally-competitive non-conference schedule over the holidays, and the Mose Hole Classic fit that bill for us.”

Heidelberg is led by Emmanuel Perdue at 12.8 ppg, followed by Isaiah Young (11.7 ppg) Tre Watkins (11.0 ppg) and Seth Hohman (10.7). Eric Panning cleans the glass with a 7.7 rpg average. Heidelberg is outscoring its opponents by about nine points per game (80.5 scored, 71.8 surrendered) and is shooting .421 from the field and .376 from beyond the 3-point line.

Here’s a link to Heidelberg’s team statistics:
https://www.bergathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/stats?path=mbball

“John Carroll is certainly having a great year. They’re a very deep team. They’ve been defending extremely well, pressuring very well,” Bucheit says. “We’ll need to take better care of the basketball. We’ll have to watch them in transition, and we need to run a good offense and take high-percentage shots. That will better set up our defense.”

Bucheit also believes it’s good that ‘Berg entered the season a little underrated.  “John Carroll having all those transfers certainly got attention at the Div. III level. Mount Union has a lot of players back, and Marietta had great success with its Final Four run last year,” he says. “But we have 7-8 players back with national experience from our playoff team as well. We added a key recruit and a few graduate student transfers also.

“Top to bottom, the OAC is one of the best leagues in the country,” he adds.

Expect a well played, close contest from John Carroll and Heidelberg at the DeCarlo Center tonight.

PHOTO CREDIT: John Carroll Athletics, Heidelberg Athletics web pages

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