Home for the holidays has been good to BlufftonDecember 21, 2001
Location: Bluffton, Ohio
Collegiate Ath. Conf.
Affiliation: NCAA Div. III
Colors: Royal purple and white
Home arena: Founders Hall
Head coach: Guy Neal
Current record: 3-5
2000-01 overall record: 16-9
2000-01 HCAC record: 6-6
Starters returning: 0
Letterwinners returning: 4
At first glance
Being home for the holidays has been good for the Bluffton College men's basketball team. In the previous five seasons leading up to the 2001-02 campaign, the Beavers were 19-1 in Founders Hall in the month of December. This season, however, BC is 0-2 at home in December, but the Fourth Annual McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament could be just what the doctor ordered. Bluffton is a perfect 6-0 in this event in its first three years.
Head Coach Guy Neal
Head Coach Guy Neal is in his 13th season at the helm of the BC men's basketball program. His 128 wins are the fourth-most in school history and his seven seasons of 10 or more wins are second in BC history to Hall of Famer Glenn Snyder, who collected eight such seasons. Neal was named the HCAC Coach of the Year last season as he led Bluffton to a 16-9 record and one game back of the league's regular season title.
Bluffton is now 3-5 overall on the season and 0-3 in the HCAC. This weekend BC plays in the Heidelberg College Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in Tiffin, Ohio.
Bluffton said goodbye to seven of the team's top nine scorer's from last season's 16-9 squad, but his four returning letterwinners are all producing this season as Bluffton aims to remain a contender in the HCAC. Leading that list of returnees is senior wing Rod Overmyer (15.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who was a first team All-HCAC last season as Bluffton's sixth man. This season his scoring total ranks third in the HCAC and his rebounding ranks ninth, while at the same time he ranks seventh in both steals (1.6 spg) and free throw percentage (80.6%).
Juniors Mike Leimeister and Derek DeNero have also led BC in scoring at least once this season. Leimeister scored a career-high 30 points at Denison on Dec. 15 and has averaged 23.7 points in Bluffton's three wins. His 14.3 points per game average ranks sixth in the HCAC and he ranks third in field goal percentage (60.5%). DeNero has led the Beavers in rebounding in the last four games and is ranked among the HCAC leaders in three categories. His 12.9 points per game ranks 12th, his 7.8 rebounds per game is third and his 2.1 steals per game is second. And speaking of league leaders, junior Marcus Bixler leads the HCAC in assists with 6.1 per game. He set the BC single game assist record on Nov. 17 of this season as he dished out 13 assists against Concordia.
BC defense, rebounding key
Last season Bluffton ranked third in the HCAC in scoring as the Beavers averaged over 81 points per game. This season, however, defense and rebounding have been BC's meal ticket. Bluffton opponents are shooting just 43.2% against them this season (2nd in HCAC), and the Beavers are giving up just 68.8 points per game (third in HCAC). Bluffton's +2.9 rebounding margin is the second-best in the league, while BC ranks fourth in field goal percentage (45.0%) and steals (7.3 spg) and fifth in free throw percentage (70.9%)
BC vs. BC
Bluffton will face off against Bridgewater in Friday night's second game. These two teams have two previous meetings in their history, with both of those matchups coming in the mid 1980s at early season tournaments hosted by Eastern Mennonite University (Va.). Both scores were nearly identical, as Bluffton won 91-72 in 1984 before Bridgewater took a 90-75 victory in 1986. And who was Bluffton's next opponent after facing the Eagles in 1986? None other than one of this year's holiday tournament guests, Ohio Dominican College, who Bluffton then defeated 73-70. Bluffton is 16-14 all-time against opponents with the same "BC" initials, but is a perfect 4-0 against such named teams in Founders Hall.
Beaver history note
In the first two years of this event, Bluffton won the championship game by a total of 14 points. Last year, however, BC defeated Urbana by 18 points in the title contest and tied a tournament-record by scoring 100 points. In that game, Bluffton shot 82.6% from the free throw line (third best ever in a tourney game) and held a +8 advantage on the boards (second best ever in a tourney game). BC scored 51 points in the first half (tourney record).