Basketball

A weekly look into the Division III Great Lakes Region men’s basketball season.

Episodes

Only 16 teams remain in contention for the top prize in Division III men's basketball and 2 of them reside here in the Great Lakes. Wittenberg and Mount Union have been the top two teams in the region for several weeks now and the pair will square off Friday evening in Alliance with a spot in Fort Wayne and the Elite Eight on the line. I set the stage for Friday's game, analyzed both teams, and made my pick for who I think will represent the Great Lakes next weekend in Fort Wayne. Joining me in the Coaches Corner was Wittenberg head coach Matt Croci (14:36). We talked about his 28-2 Tigers, getting over the hump and into the 2nd weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, as well as break down Mount Union ahead of Friday's night's showdown in Alliance. All of this and more in the season finale of This Week in Great Lakes Basketball.

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The NCAA Tournament is here and the Great Lakes has 8 representatives looking to make their way to Atlanta for this year's national championship game:

NCAC: Wooster, Wittenberg

OAC: Mount Union, Marietta

MIAA: Adrian

HCAC: Transylvania

PAC: Grove City

AMCC: La Roche

 

I previewed each Great Lakes pod and projected out who I expect to make the 2nd weekend along with my overall Final 4 picks from each quadrant of the bracket. Joining me in the Coaches Corner was La Roche head coach Hermie Carmichael (28:40). His RedHawks avenged an AMCC Tournament championship loss a year ago to Penn St.-Behrend and are in the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd time in 3 years. We discussed his team's journey back to the title this year as well as previewed their upcoming weekend at Wittenberg. Also joining me was Adrian head coach Kyle Lindsay (47:05). His Bulldogs won their first MIAA tournament championship and are preparing for their program first NCAA Tournament appearance. We discussed his team's internal belief in themselves all year long in going from worst to first in just one season. All of this and more in another 70 minutes of Great Lakes coverage.

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As we make the turn and head into the 2nd round of conference play, a couple of the region's conferences have turned upside down. Which conferences are beginning to sort themselves out with three weeks to go, and which ones continues to be a clustered mess? Joining me this week in the Coaches Corner is Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal (36:56). We talked about his 16-3 Pioneers and their hunt for a 6th consecutive OAC title, the importance of family in coaching, and how invaluable great assistants are to maintaining an elite program. I talked through the new D3hoops Top 25, which programs still maintain Pool C worthy resumes, and answered your questions about the region.

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#20 Wooster shot the lights out in a >60% shooting performance to hand #2 Wittenberg their first loss of the season Saturday at Timken. What are the ramifications of the result? Is Wooster underrated? Is this a reality check for the Tigers? Albion continued their early dominance in MIAA play while PAC leader St. Vincent took a spill twice this week to fall towards the middle of the pack. The Grizzlies of Franklin have opened up a 2 game lead on the Heartland while Mount Union and Marietta continue to cruise heading into their OAC clash on Wednesday. This week in the Coaches Corner is Mount Union head coach Mike Fuline (37:15). His Purple Raiders are back amongst the elite teams in Division III and are in the thick of an OAC race with rival Marietta. We talked about his talented, athletic squad as well as previewed Wednesday's match up with the Pioneers. All of this and more in another hour of Great Lakes talk.

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We've reached the point where teams have more games behind them than they do in front of them. Mid-January means conference races are heating up and teams are well into the grind of the season. I recapped all 6 conference races including an AMCC showdown between La Roche and Penn St.-Behrend that went to the final buzzer and a key Mount Union-Baldwin Wallace OAC tilt that featured two teams who have designs on a conference title. Joining me this week in the Coaches Corner was Albion head coach Jody May (31:03). We talked about his 11-2 Brits, how their program is using the loss of a teammate to play for something bigger this season, and how a parity filled MIAA race will shake out this season.

All of this and more in another hour of Great Lakes discussion!

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The 3rd annual Great Lakes Invite is in the books. Thanks to Wooster and all 8 teams for putting on another fantastic event this year. I wrapped up the news and results from the tournament as well as the rest of the holiday tournament action and set the stage for conference races that will permeate the discussion the rest of the way.

Joining me this week in the Coaches Corner is Hanover head coach Jon Miller (37:05). We talked about his 8-3 Panthers, their position as flag bearers for the Heartland and Great Lakes region, as well as Coach Miller's deep roots in Hanover, Indiana. All of this and more in another 80 minutes of Great Lakes talk.

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Listeners,

The premier edition of Senior Standouts is off and running and this first guest is an absolute dandy. Mount Union SR. D'Vontay Friga joined me to talk about his story of growing up a NE Ohio kid and making the choice to make the short trip down to Alliance to play for Coach Fuline and Mount Union. His YouTube channel has exploded as his vlogs documenting his life as a Division III student athlete have resonated with people around the world. His story has inspired young athletes to appreciate what Division III offers and how hard work always nets results. His growing subscriber count of now over 70k reach out to him with messages daily and many even travel from far and wide to catch a Purple Raider game because of his inspirational message.  We talked about the origin of those videos and the opportunities he is considering as graduation approaches. We'll talk some basketball, but this segment will always be more about long form storytelling. I hope you enjoy this new segment and it's something I look forward to expounding upon as I continue to shed a spotlight on this division and this region and it's special coaches and athletes.

This is Senior Standouts.

A couple of notes:

1. There is a rough edit point around the 27 minute mark that I was just unable to get around. Apologies in advance but I hope it doesn't ruin the rest of our 35 minute conversation.

2. If you have not seen or are aware of D'Vontay's YouTube channel you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeI--jINF0G1jmDVjT2PX_Q

 

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An abbreviated week of games due to final exams meant there were not the showcase of matchups this week we've seen in weeks past, however that doesn't mean there were not key conference clashes this week. Defiance turned some more heads in the Heartland this week with a win over perennial power Hanover. John Carroll's slide continues as they fell on the road to Muskingum in OAC play. Adrian continues it's season of up and down play with a win over an outstanding Loras team. This week in the Coaches Corner is Carnegie Mellon head coach Tony Wingen (29:03). We talked about his 5-2 Tartans who are back in the UAA conversation as well as an in depth conversation around the complexities and challenges of recruiting and playing on the road in a conference with a national footprint. All of this and more in another 70 minutes of Great Lakes talk.

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Conference play is underway and already a slew of surprises have shaken up the Great Lakes Region. Earlham won it's first game against Transylvania since joining the NCAA in 1997 this week. Meanwhile down on the banks of the Ohio River, #8 Marietta and John Carroll contested one of the all time classics in a series that's seen some incredible games over the last decade. This week in the Coaches Corner, Pitt-Greensburg head coach Brody Jackson joins me (37:11) to talk about his 6-1 (4-0 AMCC) Bobcats. With wins over St. Vincent, Penn St.-Behrend, and Penn St-Altoona, Greensburg is off to it's best start since joining the NCAA in 1997. We discussed their start to the season and how they've turned close losses from a year ago into wins this time around. All this and more in another hour of Great Lakes talk!

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The 2019-2020 basketball season is off and running and Season 6 of the only show solely dedicated to the Great Lakes region is back on the air. Who is each of the conference's preseason favorites as we lift the lid on the regular season? Which teams had some head turning results right out of the gate? Which of the favorites stumbled off the starting line? I recapped the first couple weeks of the season and set the stage for the conference races that begin in earnest this week and next. In this week's Coach's Corner, Allegheny's Bob Simmons joined me (34:34) to talk Gator basketball. We talked about his journey from Division III to the Division I coaching level and why he decided DIII was the place he wanted to come back to and call home. We also talked about his upstart 4-1 Gator squad who are looking to build off last year's first 10 win season in 5 years and make some noise in an incredibly deep and talented North Coast Conference this season. All of this and more in another hour of Great Lakes talk.

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