Key Injuries Derail Men’s Basketball in Conference Play


Courtesy of Brian Hogkin

Junior center Randall Ollie fights for the ball against the Kenyon College Lords on Jan. 28. Ollie led the team with 22 points and eight rebounds in a 62–50 win.

Bob Cornell

The men’s basketball team saw mixed results over the December recess and Winter Term, finishing its 10-game stretch with a record of 3–7. The squad traveled to California for three games at the end of December and the beginning of January, going 1–2. Though they struggled on the road against conference foes, the Yeomen picked up big wins against the Kenyon College Lords and the Wabash College Little Giants to salvage their record.

Although the California trip was business as usual with three games in three days, the Yeomen gained some needed downtime in the Golden State and over Winter Term.

“Winter Term was a great time for the team to get better as individuals as well as get a break from schoolwork and get some much-needed mental rest,” said junior center Randall Ollie. “The trip to California was a great opportunity to play some different teams as well as enjoy warmer weather and visit places that I had never been before.”

While the team struggled during its first two games in Orange, CA, it handily beat the Caltech Beavers 67–44 in its third game. The victory was due in large part to the efforts of sophomore guard Jack Poyle, who scored a team-high 17 points, and to Ollie, who contributed 12 points, 9 rebounds and a block.

After returning to Ohio, the Yeomen were hit with a string of bad luck as senior guard Miles Gueno and Poyle were sidelined with lower leg injuries. Each missed four games, leaving the the Yeomen shorthanded. Poyle’s injury developed slowly as a result of the heavy minutes he’s logged this season.

“There wasn’t a specific time it happened,” he said. ”It just got progressively worse over the course of the preseason and season. I’m already back and playing.”

The Yeomen were undoubtedly disappointed to lose their leading scorer for any duration, but Ollie noted that other guards stepped up in Poyle’s absence.

“Jack’s injury just brought more out of some of the other guys,” said Ollie. “[Sophomore] Nate [Cohen] has stepped up as a true scorer, [sophomore] Zach Meyers has taken more of a leadership role and we’ve found more ways for more guys to contribute.”

The team won just one game with Poyle sidelined, but Head Coach Isaiah Cavaco is hopeful that the adversity the team faced in losing two key players will help the team in the long run.

“The last month has been tricky with the various injuries and the fluctuating availability of players. I hope it’s made us stronger,” he said.

Looking to put the tough stretch behind them, the Yeomen relied on juniors Ollie and Matthew Walker to get the team out of its rut. The big men did just that, leading Oberlin to triumphant wins against Wabash College and Kenyon College.

“Randy and Matt have played better and asserted themselves in the paint over the past few weeks,” said Cavaco. “We need them to stay out of foul trouble and continue to run the court to open things up for the entire team.”

Against Wabash, Walker had a career day, scoring 16 points on eight-of-ten shooting from the floor, pulling down six boards, dishing out three assists and notching two blocks. Thanks to his strong play, the Yeomen added to their one-point halftime lead, ultimately winning 75–67.

“I realized how much more aggressive I should be in our offense,” Walker said of his success in the game.

The Yeomen tallied their second win in a row four days later thanks to a career game from Ollie, in which he scored 22 points on eight-of-eleven shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.

“I just tried to help the team in the best ways possible, which just so happened to be scoring and rebounding,” Ollie said. “I’m lucky to have a great group of guards that found me the ball when I was open, and the whole team did a great job on the defensive end.”

The Yeomen were unable to push their win streak to three, falling 51–50 on the road to the DePauw University Tigers last Saturday. Cohen led the team with 10 points, as the Yeomen struggled to put together a solid effort on the offensive end, shooting a paltry 35.4 percent from the field.

The loss pushed the team’s record to 8–11 with six regular season games left to play. Those remaining games are all against conference foes, and to have success, the team knows it will have to duplicate what it did against the Lords and the Little Giants.

“Kenyon and Wabash were good wins for us because there were not any forced moments and we let the game come to us,” said Walker. “It finally felt like we were playing the right way.”

Despite the return of Gueno to the court, the Yeomen fell 90–68 on the road Wednesday against the Denison University Big Red. Cohen again led the team with 17 points but couldn’t help the team overcome a slow start and a 29-point halftime deficit.

The Yeomen will take to the road again to face NCAC foe Wittenberg University this Saturday. The team will then return home next Wednesday to take on the Allegheny College Gators at 8 p.m.