Oberlin Basketball Starts Season with Mixed Results


Erin Koo

Milun Micanovic makes a slam dunk in a game against Ohio Northern University on Tuesday.

This Tuesday, men’s and women’s basketball started their seasons with the women’s team traveling up to Michigan to play against the Alma College Scots and the men’s team staying at home to compete against the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears.

Women’s basketball is coming from one of the most successful seasons in program history, with a 21–4 overall record and a dance in the North Coast Athletic Conference semifinals during the 2021–22 season. Their skill was evident when they established a 7–1 lead in only the first five minutes of the game. Taking advantage of the Scots’ weaknesses, such as the absence of their two starters and the 24 turnovers made, the Yeowomen continued to set the pace with the help of second-year Bryana Woodard, who led the team with 22 points throughout the entire game and has been called a potential candidate for NCAC player of the year.

“Our offense had some amazing spurts where we really all seemed to flow well together which was exciting,” Woodard wrote in an email to the Review. “We have some serious depth and players who all bring something super valuable to our game, so it’s fun to watch the different ways we all play with each other. The other team was trying to double me for the entirety of the game, so I was really grateful for my teammates being able to read the help side defense and their decisions on when to give me the ball.”

Also contributing to the victory was Oberlin’s rookie class of first-years, specifically Angela Kumler, Anora Lee, and Lily Najmulski, who achieved a combined total of 20 points and seven rebounds. Additionally, third-years Alyson Jefferson and Gina Lombard made all 11 free throws attempted between the two of them. Although the Scots shot multiple three-pointers and ended the fourth quarter with a 15–12 score, it was not enough to slow down the Yeowomen’s momentum, and Oberlin’s team went home with a 77–62 victory.

Notably missing from the action was last season’s first team honoree and NCAC Newcomer of the Year, second-year Camille Zinaich, who is currently out due to a femur injury. However, she was proud of the team’s accomplishments, especially the first-years, and has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“I think last year we all knew we would be a good team, but I don’t think we realized … how good we can be,” Zinaich wrote in an email to the Review. “I think that inspires us all, and it especially showed in yesterday’s game how much better we all collectively got and how much potential we have.”

An hour after the women’s game began, the men faced off against ONU back home, motivated by a pep band and a lively group of spectators, starting the first full season for Head Coach Shiva Senthil. Fourth-year Đorđe Otašević and third-year Dimitrije Radusinovic led the team in scoring with a combined 29 points, exactly half of the total points for Oberlin. Second-year guard Yuuki Okubo moved with agility and speed to post up eight assists, and first-year Milun Micanovic made his collegiate debut with eight points, stunned the crowd with a slam dunk and provided much of the defense against the Polar Bears.

Unlike the women’s match, the Yeomen did not find points so easily. From the beginning, the scores were only single digits apart from each other, and by halftime, they were only in a 28–27 lead. Unfortunately, the gap between scores slowly began to widen throughout the second half as Ohio Northern continued on an intense offensive crusade that Oberlin could not answer to in time, continually missing shots and failing to block.

The last five minutes saw the most action as the team slowly but surely recovered from a nine-point deficit, finally narrowing down to a 59–57 score in the last eight seconds thanks to a successful three-pointer by second-year guard Will Bousquette. However, they racked up fouls and even with a successful free throw by Okubo and boos from the student section against the Polar Bears, ONU made three more free throws. The game concluded with a 62–58 loss.

Afterward, Micanovic noted that one reason for the loss was because of a difference in experience. Ohio Northern was much faster and older and comparatively, only eight of the 19 Yeomen are third years or above. Despite the outcome, Micanovic appreciated the support from the older players, such as Otašević, and believed the game provided valuable insight into the dynamics of the team, giving them a baseline for improvement.

“[The upperclassmen] are really supportive towards all of us,” Micanovic said. “They give us the best advice they could, especially in this game. They were leading us, telling us what to do in order to achieve our best potential. … We should definitely work on keeping the same mentality throughout the game. We need to stand behind our principles, which are trying to be tough on defense and on offense.”

Today, the Yeomen are traveling to Case Western Reserve University for the Bill Sudeck Tournament, and the Yeowomen are heading back to Michigan for a game against Adrian College.