COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University men's basketball team is gearing up to kick the 2015-16 season off this weekend at the inaugural NCAC/OAC Challenge. Setting the table for the upcoming season is an eclectic mix of new faces and veteran leadership as part of what makes up the Crusaders.
The Crusaders return six players from last season's roster. Headlining the group is senior guard A.J. Dixon (Hilliard, Ohio). As a sophomore, Dixon led the Crusaders with 304 points and averaged 11.7 points per contest in 26 appearances. The two-time All-OAC honorable mention has 722 career points and is close to becoming the 32nd Crusader to hit 1,000 in a career. Dixon fell just short of shooting 40 percent from the field and hit 37.2 percent of his 3-point attempts. He will serve as Capital's starting point guard, this season.
Capital will foster a series of guards to help bolster their small lineup, including juniors Tyrel Jackson (Dublin, Ohio), Curt Geise (Delphos, Ohio), and Drew Fecko (Sagamore Hills, Ohio), plus sophomores, Jack Gedeon (Fremont, Ohio) and Brennan Czuchran (Rayland, Ohio).
Jackson served as one of the team's sharp shooters from behind the arc, hitting 35.5 percent of treys on the year. His best game came at home versus Otterbein University when he went 4-for-7 from 3-point range and hit for double digit points the second of four occasions.
Geise scrapped his way to possessing the second-most steals on the team last season with 23. He also added 46 assists and is the Crusaders' lead returning rebounder (77).
Senior Mike Green (Dublin, Ohio) returns to the Capital lineup after taking a season off. The forward had a solid 2013-14 season in which he averaged 7.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He put up a career-high 26 points off of the bench at the University of Mount Union, draining 10-of-13 field goals and 6-of-7 3-pointers.
Junior Wes Beam (Chillicothe, Ohio) comes back from a leg injury sustained last year and will compete for minutes at the center position.
Capital welcomes 11 newcomers to this year's team. Key freshman for the Crusaders include Caleb Cox (New Richmond, Ohio), Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio), Austin Schreck (Erlonger, Ky.), and Joe Thomas (Columbus, Ohio).
Of the new faces, senior guard Mark Minch (Cincinnati, Ohio) may be the most intriguing. Minch is a transfer from Ohio Dominican University (NCAA Division II) who played and started 12 games for the Panthers last year. He put up 12.8 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field in limited action.
The most notable change will be the absence of head coach Damon Goodwin. Prior to the start of what would be his 22nd year at the helm of the Crusaders, Goodwin stepped aside to battle leukemia. Second-year assistant coach Andy Winters will step in and serve as interim head coach in Goodwin's absence.
According to the OAC's annual preseason coaches' poll, the Crusaders have been picked to finish seventh out of 10 teams. The Crusaders will open the season on the road with two tournaments before returning home. The newly created NCAC/OAC Challenge will feature four teams and two sites. Saturday, Nov. 14 Capital will play Wittenberg University at Otterbein and then conclude the crossover against Ohio Wesleyan University on Tuesday, Nov.17 at Wittenberg. The two-day tournament will also serve as host to a leukemia awareness event supporting Coach Goodwin's battle. More information
The home opener will be against Heartland Conference preseason favorite Mount St. Joseph's on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. The next key matchup will be at home against OAC front runner Mount Union on Saturday, Dec. 5.The first matchup with rival Otterbein will take place on the road on Saturday, Dec. 19. The next key matchup will take place Wednesday, Jan. 13 when the Pioneers of Marietta College come to town. Finally, the last key conference game and Senior Day will be held at The Capital Center against Otterbein on Saturday, Feb. 13.