By ANDY WOLF
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team is a hopeful bunch.
To Aaron Overhiser, it’ll be key in the Oilers getting through the five remaining regular season games.
“A lot of teams don’t have a lot of hope left,” said Overhiser, a 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman. “We’ve got to keep working hard every day in practice. You can’t get complacent. You can’t get comfortable with where you’re at.”
It didn’t take long for Overhiser to also learn anything can happen on the road in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Such has been the case for the Oilers (17-5, 11-4 GLIAC), who are 5-4 away from Croy Gymnasium.
They’ve won and lost both at the buzzer and in a decisive fashion throughout league play.
“Anything can happen on any given night in this league,” Overhiser said. “I don’t know how it is in other leagues but there’s never an easy game.”
On Findlay’s slate this week are two road games, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ohio Dominican (13-9, 8-8) and 3 p.m. Saturday at Lake Erie (4-20, 3-13).
Overhiser’s entire freshman year has been a learn-by-doing process, coming off a redshirt last year to average 10.9 minutes a night.
Even with 225 pounds on his frame, he’s quickly seen his physicality challenged on a nightly basis with grueling battles in the paint but winning enough times to encourage head coach Charlie Ernst.
Overhiser does his part with 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds a night, tying Taren Sullivan for the team lead at 1.4 offensive boards per game.
“You’ve got guys that are 6-8, 6-9, 6-10, some even 7-foot, that are just giants and it’s a wrestling match every game,” Overhiser said. “A lot of teams hang their hat on getting offensive rebounds. A lot of teams just crash relentlessly.”
Overhiser has always prided himself on his rebounding and ability to run the floor as a big.
He does so whilst bringing energy and a “never say die attitude.”
“Aaron is a totally selfless player,” Ernst said. “He never thinks of himself when he’s on the floor. That makes him an ideal sub right now.”
In Ohio Dominican, UF will face a team that relies on several contributing freshman to round out its core four of experienced juniors.
True freshman and Toledo Whitmer grad Sam Hickey leads the GLIAC in 3-point shooting at 49.2 percent and has hit 35 of 73 during the new year.
He earned his first and only start of the season in ODU’s 72-69 loss to UF at Croy Gymnasium.
Ernst expects Hickey (12.2 ppg) to come off the bench and play his usual share of 20 minutes in league play.
“He doesn’t sneak up on anyone now,” Ernst said of Hickey, who has hit eight 3-balls in a game three times.
ODU combines a strong collection of shooters with two post players scoring at a rate of 60 percent from the field.
Mike DeLeon (7.5) and Hassan Varence (13.0 ppg) are second and third in the GLIAC in scoring efficiency.
Varence, a 6-6 redshirt freshman, is fourth in the league in rebounding (7.8 rpg).
The Panthers are 8-3 at home this year.
The Findlay women’s team (11-12, 5-10) will also be in action at Ohio Dominican today with tipoff at 5:30 p.m.
The Panthers (16-7, 11-5) have already clinched a GLIAC tournament berth while the Oilers are in 10th place, two games back of the eighth and final spot.
The Oilers have struggled mightily on the road at 1-9, 0-7 in the GLIAC, and average 56.4 points per game.
UF sophomore Christa Puthoff is coming off two strong games which earned her GLIAC South Division Player of the Week honors.
She’s leading the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg.
ODU is led by seniors Lauren Bates (12.5 ppg) and Madi Rittinger (12.0).
The Panthers took the first meeting 82-51 at Croy.