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Sports & Recreation

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


The season is 6 or 7 games old for most teams but the season premier of This Week in Great Lakes Basketball is finally here. I put a wrap on the 2017 Great Lakes Invitational and preview the teams contesting next year's event at Hope. Conference play is underway for 5 of our Great Lakes conferences and I break down who has surprised in a good way and who has disappointed thus far. Joining me in the Coaches Corner this week is Baldwin Wallace head coach Tom Heil (33:05). We break down his Yellow Jackets 4-2 start and discuss how this year's Ohio Athletic Conference may play out. All of this and more in another hour of This Week in Great Lakes Basketball.


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MARIETTA, Ohio — While the 2016-17 National Champion was crowned less than two weeks ago, plans are well underway for one of the premier Division III events of the 2017-18 men's basketball season.

The game schedule has been set for the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational to be hosted by Marietta College November 17-18, 2017. Joining the Pioneers in Ban Johnson Arena will be Hope College (Mich.), Mount St. Joseph University, Wittenberg University, Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.), Dickinson College (Pa.), St. John Fisher College (N.Y.) and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).

All eight teams posted records of .500 or better this season and four played in the NCAA Tournament. St. Thomas lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this year, while St. John Fisher bowed out in the second round. Marietta and Hope both made it to the Sweet 16.

The Great Lakes Invitational game schedule follows with each school's 2016-17 final record in parenthesis.

Friday, November 17, 2017:
2:00 p.m. — Wittenberg (18-9) vs. Mount St. Joseph (20-7)
4:00 p.m. — Birmingham-Southern (14-14) vs. St. John Fisher (23-6)
6:00 p.m. — St. Thomas (19-8) vs. Dickinson (16-11)
8:00 p.m. — Marietta (26-5) vs. (Hope (23-7)

Saturday, November 18, 2017:
1:00 p.m. — Wittenberg vs. Birmingham-Southern
3:00 p.m. — Hope vs. St. John Fisher
5:00 p.m. — Mount St. Joseph vs. Dickinson
7:00 p.m. — Marietta vs. St. Thomas

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The calendar has flipped to March which means the NCAA Tournament is upon us and 7 teams have made the field from the Great Lakes:

Marietta (OAC)

Calvin (MIAA)

Thomas More (PAC)

Medaille (AMCC)

Hope (MIAA)

Hanover (HCAC)

Wooster (NCAC)


I break down the bracket and make my selections for weekend while also breakdown the pods with 3 coaches from the region. Hanover's Jon Miller (7:24), Marietta's Jon VanderWal (24:23), and Medaille's Mike Blaine (33:24) all joined me to talk about their draws and the keys to advancing this weekend. How many Great Lakes squads will be in the last 16 come Sunday? All this and more in another 50 minutes of Great Lakes talk!



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Three weeks remain in the regular season and several conferences are setting up for photo finishes. The OAC, HCAC, and AMCC have at least two teams tied atop the conference while Denison's loss to Wittenberg brings the NCAC race to within one game. Hope and St. Vincent have big cushions in the MIAA and PAC but are not home free with key games still to play. Wednesday night may prove to be the biggest night of the year as several huge conference matchups take place with championship implications in all of them:

Anderson @ Mount St. Joseph

Marietta @ Mount Union

Denison @ Ohio Wesleyan

Penn-St.-Behrend @ Medaille

Joining me in the Coach's Corner tonight is St. Vincent head coach D.P. Harris (30:08). We talk about his Bearcat's dominance over the PAC the last several years and how his team has once again is the favorite again despite turning over 8 seniors off of last year's roster. All of this and more in another 45 minutes of Great Lakes talk!


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The HCAC showdown between Hanover and Mount St. Joseph was a nip and tuck affair with the Lions winning on the road and creating a three way tie atop the conference. Meanwhile in the PAC, St. Vincent knocked off Westminster to keep pace with a Thomas More squad who continues to win games at will. Ohio Northern, John Carroll, and Marietta all went 2-0 this week to stay atop the OAC while Denison continues to try and run away from the field in the NCAC. Joining me this week in the Coach's Corner is Hermie Carmichael of La Roche (26:02). We talked about his program's 8-0 AMCC start as well as rebuilding a program that went 1-24 just 2 seasons ago. All this and more in another 45 minutes of Great Lakes talk!


 Hermie Carmichael

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Most of the region's teams are halfway through the season as conference play begins again for everyone. I recapped the region's holiday tournaments as well as 2017's opening week of basketball. Hope, Alma, and Calvin opened up MIAA play with 2 wins, but the OAC and PAC conferences were thrusts into chaos up top as some of the favorites were toppled. Denison stayed on cruise control as they took down Ohio Wesleyan this week opening up a two game lead in the NCAC. This week in the interview corner is a Hope double feature as Head Coach Greg Mitchell (33:09) and SR Harrison Blackledge (47:19) join me to talk Flying Dutchman basketball. All this and more in another hour of Great Lakes basketball talk.

Harrison Blackledge


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Conference play for 2016 is in the books and holiday tournaments are all that's left before we kick off 2017. 2016 however did not end quietly as Ohio Northern shocked John Carroll in Ada sending the Blue Streaks to their 5th loss of the year. The AMCC and HCAC conferences had showdown weekends of unbeatens. La Roche knocked off Medaille in Pittsburgh to go atop the Allegheny Mountain while Hanover dispatched Anderson to remain the last unbeated in the Heartland. I also previewed some of the better holiday tournaments going on around the region including a pair of tests for #4 Marietta down in Daytona Beach. Joining me this week in the Coach's Corner is Travis Schwab of the upstart Muskingum Muskies (35:00). We talked about their great start to the year as well as how Coach Schwab and his staff are bringing a new culture to the program in New Concord. All that and more in another great 50 minutes of Great Lakes talk.

Travis Schwab

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There was a shakeup at the top of the Great Lakes Region this week. John Carroll got their season back on track with a home win against #3 Marietta. Mmeanwhile in Holland, Wisconsin-Whitewater came away from Devos over Hope. Denison at (8-0) remains the only unfeated squad left in the region as they continued their early season momentum with a win against Wittenberg Saturday. Three teams remain unbeated in AMCC conference play, including upstart Medaille. Head Coach Mike Blaine joins me this week in the Coach's Corner this week (33:44) to talk about his young Mavericks squad that is trying to butt their way into the Allegheny Mountain title conversation. All of this and more in another great hour of Great Lakes talk!


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Conference play got underway this week for the majority of conferences around the Great Lakes. Denison jumped in front early in the NCAC race with a big victory over Wooster at Timpken. John Carroll's early seasons woes continued as Muskingum continued their undefeated season defeating the Blue Streaks in New Concord. Unfortunately, for Mount St. Joseph's Toby Carrigan, his Lions followed up their first Top 25 ranking with a conference opening loss to Anderson. Ah, life in the Heartland. Toby Carrigan joins me (32:20) in the Coach's Corner this week to talk about his squad as they look to navigate the choppy waters of the HCAC in search of a 2nd consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. All that and more in nearly another hour of Great Lakes basketball talk.


Toby Carrigan

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The new season is upon us and what a start it was. Preseason #17 Marietta rolled to a 5-0 start with wins over #2 Christopher Newport and #7 Wooster jumping to #4 in this week's Top 25. Hope is off to another fast start up in Holland and look poised to claim another MIAA championship this year, while Mount St. Joseph is rewarded with a Top 25 ranking after a 5-0 start of their own. I roll through all 6 of the Great Lakes conferences and break down non-conference play as we head toward the first set of conference games this week. Joining me in the Coach's Corner is the head coach of the #4 ranked Pioneers Jon VanderWal (31:29). We discussed his team's hot start and how they maintain that chip on their shoulder amongst all the early accolades.

*Apologies for the quality in parts of the interview. Cell phone service doesn't always want to cooperate. 


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