Yeomen Drop Playoff Game to No.1 Wooster

Shuntaro Shirota

Oberlin basketball’s first playoff birth since 2008 was a first-round loss to the College of Wooster Fighting Scots this Tuesday, with a final score of 74–47. The eighth seeded Yeomen faced the first-seeded Scots at Wooster’s home court.

Oberlin allowed 19 points off of 20 turnovers throughout the contest. Wooster also put up a total of 56 field goal attempts, while Oberlin had only 36.

Two important interplaying factors reflected the Yeomen’s shortcomings. First, Wooster attempted 56 shots in the contest, 20 more than the Yeomen. Second, Wooster’s defense forced 20 turnovers compared to Oberlin’s season average of giving up 14. This gave Wooster’s fast-paced offense increased offensive possessions, which Oberlin’s transition defense paid for. Junior Geoff Simpson, who led all scorers with 27, explained, “A transition defense is easier for any team to break down.” Although Wooster did not convert many fast-break opportunities, it amassed points by forcing Oberlin to play a transition defense based on turnovers.

The interplay between increased field goal opportunities created by numerous turnovers was a crucial aspect of how the game got out of hand.

Another key component of the game was depth. “If you look at Wooster, they play 10 to 12 guys, and there’s a very minimal drop-off between their [first and second units],” Simpson said. The Scots boasted a deep squad that displayed fluidity between their exchanging units; the lack of drop-off between the first and second string was vital to Wooster’s success. Oberlin’s Head Coach Isaiah Cavaco confirmed this, and said, “Our roster compared to theirs wasn’t quite as complete.”

The Yeomen’s crew consists of a concentrated core in the starting unit. Their success depends on the consistent play of this core group. This was an aspect of the Yeomen’s game plan that Wooster was well aware of. “Wooster did a great strategy [by] coming out and play[ing] full court press, right from the beginning,” said Simpson. By applying full-court pressure, Wooster exhausted the core of the Yeomen’s squad and forced the team to look for production off of the bench.

Although desperate field goal attempts, a high turnover rate and depth were three key components that marked the difference between these two teams, perhaps the most underrated was playoff experience. Participating in the playoffs was a new experience for the Yeomen, “whereas Wooster had been there every year. They are consistently the best team in our conference,” said Simpson. Cavaco added that Wooster had the advantage when it came to execution in big-game situations. Although the Fighting Scots out-muscled the Yeomen on Tuesday, the playoff experience they obtained will prove a valuable takeaway as the Yeomen look forward to next season.

As the team enters the off-season, the gap left by senior Andrew Fox becomes apparent, not only due to his on-court action, but also his off-court leadership. Cavaco said, “[Andrew] bought into the intangibles, like knowing the scouting report, spending time in the weight room, coming in for extra video sessions. He set the standard of how to work.” Fox’s contribution to the men’s program will be sorely missed, yet his presence will surely live on in the high standard of work ethic he displayed as a leader.

The future certainly looks bright for Oberlin. The playoff showdown that occurred Tuesday was a valuable experience that will only help the Yeomen to move forward. They boast a highly talented rookie class and many others who possess great potential.

“Teams are made during the season, but individual players improve most during the offseason,” said Simpson. With the playoffs fresh in their memory, an exciting future lies ahead for a newly refined and motivated team of Yeomen.