COLUMBUS, Ohio – This week marks the start of the 2015-16 Ohio Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament. Capital University enters the tournament as the No. 7 seed and will hit the road for its first-round contest against nationally-ranked John Carroll University, Tuesday night.
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 23 – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: The DeCarlo Center (University Heights, Ohio)
No. 2 JOHN CARROLL (22-3, 14-3 OAC)
After falling into a bit of rut over the last two weeks of the season, the Blue Streaks find themselves at the No. 2 seed in the OAC Tournament. They have lost three out of their last four, but come off of a 99-76 win over Muskingum University on its Senior Day, last Saturday. Those losses came at the hands of Baldwin Wallace University, 79-78, Marietta College, 86-81, and the University of Mount Union, 100-94.
There has been no real consistent theme that is notable in the stat sheets among the Blue Streaks losses. In two of their three losses, their opponent has shot better than 45 percent from field goal range. In two of three, they have committed more turnovers than their opponent, but only once committed more than 15 in a game. Plus, JCU shot better than Mount Union and nearly hit the 50 percent mark in a losing effort.
John Carroll is infamously known for its five-on, five-off system which keeps its players fresh over the course of a 40-minute game. Eight players are scoring better than 8.5 points per game, and those players account for a majority of the total minutes played on the floor. David Linane leads the Blue Streaks with 14.9 points per contest and is followed by teammates Simon Kucharewicz (11.3) and Doug Caputo (10.0). Kucharewicz and Caputo rule the boards, taking down 7.7 and 7.3 rebounds per game, respectively. John Cirillo puts forth a nice blend of scoring and rebounding, averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 boards per game.
John Carroll enters this week ranked No. 8 in the country by D3Hoops.com.
No. 7 CAPITAL (12-13, 8-10 OAC)
Capital has also fallen on hard times as of late, dropping five of its last seven games. Despite the win-loss record, they have kept in close in nearly every game during that stretch. The Crusaders lost to Mount Union only by a single point, 97-96, by an unlucky fault of the foot on the potential game-tying 3-pointer. Capital lost to Heidelberg University by two points and their most recent loss was by two possessions. Even in their 19-point loss to John Carroll, there was a moment during the second half in which the deficit was trimmed to a couple of possessions.
Despite this, look for seniors Mark Minch (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Michael Green (Dublin, Ohio) to lead the charge for Capital. One player of this dynamic duo has led the Crusaders in scoring in all but three games this season and they are regulars on rebounding leaderboards. Minch is averagine 22.2 points and 6.5 boards per game, both team leads. Green is good for at least 12.5 points per game and 4.5 boards. Freshman Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky.) has been making his mark on the team this season, putting up 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while junior Curt Geise (Delphos, Ohio) has elevated his game after being inserted into the starting lineup (7.6/3.0).
Capital's top two bench options come out of its freshman class in forward Joe Thomas (Columbus, Ohio/Centennial) and Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio). Weingartner earned his first start of the season in the finale, while Thomas exerted his second straight 10-plus point game. He tied a career high with 15 points against Heidelberg on Feb. 17 on 7-of-8 shooting and then hit 6-of-10 on the road at Baldwin Wallace.
THE TALE OF THE TAPE
Since the start of the 2006 season, the Crusaders trail in the series against John Carroll, 14-7. The last victory for Capital came in the 2012-13 season when the Crusaders swept the season series. The teams have met in the OAC tournament twice where the Blue Steaks won both.
This season, John Carroll won both contests by scores of 75-74 and 91-72. The last time these two teams met in The DeCarlo Center, Capital started strong and cranked out more than 40 points in the first half alone. They shot 57.1 percent during that time but then the JCU defense woke up and reversed their fortunes. Linane hit the go-ahead jumper with 34.9 seconds to go ahead with a four-point lead. Schreck hit a three to trim the lead, but not enough time was left on the clock for an additional opportunity. To date, that is still the lowest point output by John Carroll this season.
Admission: $7 Adult | $2 Non-OAC student | $5 Senior (62+) | OAC Student – FREE!
The winner of the JCU-Capital game will then play the winner of Heidelberg/Mount Union on Thursday, Feb. 25 at the higher seed, at 7:30 p.m.