2001-02 Men's Basketball
bc vs. au
Bluffton vs. Anderson, program notesJanuary 4, 2002
Setting the scene
With both teams looking to move up a notch in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, this game will feature several HCAC leaders, including the top two assist men (BC's Marcus Bixler and AU's Wegahta Ghebremichael) and the top two 3-point shooters (BC's Rod Overmyer and AU's Derek Ricketts).
On paper, two key statistical matchups could go a long way in determining Saturday's winner. Bluffton looks to use a rebounding advantage to gain an edge, as the Beavers rank 3rd in the HCAC in rebounding margin (+2.2), while the Ravens rank 8th (-9.3). However, the turnover department favors the Ravens, as AU forces a league-best 21.6 turnovers per game, which isn't good for BC, which commits a league-high 17.5 turnovers per game.
Anderson leads the all-time series 30-17, which dates back to the 1967-68 season. Bluffton won two of three games from the Ravens last season, but AU has won 10 of the last 13 games against the Beavers and is 15-8 against BC in Founders Hall.
Bluffton is led by 13th-year head coach Guy Neal, who ranks fourth on the BC all-time wins list with 131 victories. Anderson is led by 9th-year head coach Denny Lehnus, who is went over the 100-win mark this season as the boss of the Raven program and who is 657-221 overall in his 29th season as a collegiate head basketball coach.
Bluffton has won four of their last six games and is now 6-7 overall. BC is still looking for their first HCAC win, however, as the Beavers are 0-4 in the conference. Anderson has also won four of its last six games and is now 7-5 overall and 1-2 in the HCAC.
Bluffton defeated Anderson twice in the regular season last year, but the Ravens had the last laugh with a 93-64 win over the Beavers here in Founders Hall on Feb. 20 in the first round of the HCAC tournament. AU held Bluffton to a 24.1% shooting clip in the second half and went on a 19-3 run midway through the second half to put the game out of reach.
Bluffton's two wins over Anderson last season were both close contests. BC trailed 80-75 with 2:02 left in the game here on Feb. 14, but ended the game with an 11-2 run to take an 86-82 win. Bluffton notched a 67-65 win at Anderson on Jan. 24.
Bluffton is coming off a 94-82 loss at Franklin on Wednesday night. BC trailed by just three points at halftime, 48-45, and began with second half with a 7-2 run to take a 52-50 lead with 16:24 left in the game. Franklin regained the lead, however, and converted 19-of-26 free throw attempts in the game, while Bluffton was 8-for-10. Senior Rod Overmyer tied a career-high with seven 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 27 points, while junior Derek DeNero scored a career-high 20 points.
Anderson is coming off a trip to Texas on Dec. 29-30 where the Ravens took third place at a tournament hosted by the University of Texas at Dallas. AU came from behind to beat Nebraska Wesleyan 60-57 in the consolation game.
These two teams combined for 31 wins last season (BC 16-9, AU 15-11), but were hit hard by graduation. Bluffton graduated all five starters and lost seven of their top nine scorers, while Anderson said goodbye to seven seniors but did see two starters return.
The first man off the bench last season for both these teams has become the leader this season. For Bluffton that man is Rod Overmyer, who earned first team All-HCAC honors last season as BC's 6th man. He now leads the league in scoring (17.8 ppg) and has averaged 23 points in his last six outings. His 35 three-pointers leads the league, 10 of which have come in HCAC games, which is tied for the HCAC lead with Anderson's Derek Ricketts, who was Anderson's 6th man a season ago. Ricketts (13.1 ppg, 86.5% FTs) has averaged 17.3 points in HCAC games this season, which leads the conference.
Bluffton juniors Mike Leimeister and Derek DeNero are also ranked among the league's top-10 scorers and are among the HCAC leaders in several other categories, as well. Leimeister ranks 4th in scoring (15.6 ppg), 2nd in field goal shooting (62.0%), 7th in free throw shooting (81.3%) and 9th in rebounding (5.6 rpg). In HCAC games he has also hit 4-of-5 three-points attempts, which ties for the league's best percentage. DeNero is 7th in scoring (14.0 ppg), 3rd in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and 6th in steals (1.6 spg).
BC junior point guard Marcus Bixler leads the HCAC in assists (6.5 apg), but in HCAC games it's Anderson's Wegahta Ghebremichael who ranks #1 with 6.0. The Ravens also have the HCAC's top rebounder in Kurnie Nickson, who averages 8.9 rebounds per game. His .8 blocks per game rank 4th in the league.
In addition to the rebounding and turnover matchups (see Setting the scene on front page), shooting could be another interesting matchup. Anderson is shooting just 39.7% from the floor this season, but has increased that to 43.0% in HCAC games and will be shooting against a Bluffton defense today that has allowed HCAC opponents to shoot 51.3% against them this season. BC is shooting well, too, however, ranking 2nd in HCAC (47.6%) in all attempts and 3rd in 3-point attempts (36.3%). The Ravens also lead the HCAC in blocked shots (2.8 bpg), steals (12.2 spg) and turnover margin (+5.8).
Around the HCAC
Also on the HCAC schedule Saturday, Transylvania hosts Defiance and Manchester hosts Hanover, while Franklin hosts Thomas More in a non-league contest.