Men’s Basketball Hopes to Finish Season Strong

Senior Geoff Simpson dribbles the ball against the Wabash College Little Giants. The Yeomen look to improve their 6-13 record in their final six regular season games.

Erik Andrews

Senior Geoff Simpson dribbles the ball against the Wabash College Little Giants. The Yeomen look to improve their 6-13 record in their final six regular season games.

Lillian Jahan

Over Winter Term, the men’s basketball team picked up three wins, two of which came against conference foes, the Allegheny College gators, and most recently over the DePauw University Tigers, who entered Saturday’s game ranked 23rd in the nation. Breaking into the spring semester with a 6 – 13 overall record and 3 – 9 in North Coast Athletic Conference play, the Yeomen are focused on the NCAC conference tournament.

Over Winter Term, the Yeomen had the opportunity to travel to Ithaca, NY, to take on Division I Cornell University Big Red.

“It was a great experience. Getting to play with a Division I team is always a welcomed challenge. Even if we don’t win, getting to play at a higher level is a learning experience for all of us,” said senior captain Emmanuel Lewis. “The score doesn’t truly reflect how we played.”

The Yeomen fought hard for the entire 40 minutes and saw contributions from nearly every player in the game, before falling to the Big Red 77-55.

Without classes, Winter Term was a prime opportunity for the team to take advantage of lighter schedules and settle into a new routine. Lewis’s senior co-captain, Geoff Simpson, noted that the team’s coaching staff did a great job establishing a balanced routine that included supplementary lifts on – off days. “It made it really easy to get into a rhythm and helped us really come together over the course of the month,” said Simpson.

“Winter Term is always a good experience for our team. We get to spend more time working on basketball without the stress of homework and exams, so it seems like our players really improve,” Head Coach Isaiah Cavaco commented.

In the final game on their Winter Term schedule, the Yeomen showed just how much work they put in throughout the month when they defeated DePauw, bumping them from the Top 25.

“This was a big win for us for two reasons,” said Simpson. “One, this is the first time Oberlin men’s basketball has beat a ranked team, and two, this is big for [NCAC] tournament implications because of where DePauw stands in the rankings.”

The lead changed on six different occasions throughout the turbulent game but the Yeomen and Tigers battled neck and neck. Although both teams shot 48 percent in the game, Oberlin was red hot from the three-point line, shooting 50 percent on 6–12. The Yeomen also had more rebounds than the Tigers and took better advantage of second–chance points.

With 11 seconds to go and a tie game, Coach Cavaco called a timeout and drew up a play. It led to a Lewis layup that put the Yeomen up by two points. Refusing to relinquish the lead, the Yeomen came out on top, 62–60.

“This was a huge step for us and will hopefully give us momentum heading into the last stretch of the season,” said Lewis.

The Yeomen have six regular season games left, and if they build on all of the progress they’ve already made, the team has an excellent chance of extending the season into the NCAC tournament. The win against DePauw may be the boost the team needs to finish the season strong.

“This was the type of win that should catapult us forward–we’ve lost so many close games, so pulling out this win is really important for our minds,” said Simpson.

“The win against DePauw was exciting to say the least. The players deserved it after fighting through some close losses earlier this season. My hope is that a win against such a good team will give us confidence for the rest of the season,” said Cavaco.

Last season, the Yeomen made it to the NCAC quarterfinals, where they faced the College of Wooster Fighting Scots. This was their first postseason game since 2008, but unfortunately the Scots bested them 74-47. This season, they are looking to take another step forward.

The Yeomen play at home again on Saturday, Feb. 8, against the Wittenberg University Tigers. A win would give the Yeomen a second upset victory in two weeks, since the Tigers are currently ranked 22nd in the nation. Following the game will be the Men’s Basketball Alumni game at 5:30 p.m.