Ohio Dominican winning with young but talented squadDecember 20, 2001
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Conference: American Mideast
Colors: Black, gold and white
Home arena: Merillat Center
Head coach: Dan Priest
Current record: 7-5
2000-01 overall record: 16-13
2000-01 AMC record: 9-9
Starters returning: 2
Letterwinners returning: 5
At first glance
Ohio Dominican will once again challenge for the American Mideast Conference title this season despite the fact that the Panthers have just three regulars back from last season and no seniors on the 2001-02 roster. ODC and Bluffton were both participants in the Albion College Tip-off Tournament in November but didn't meet on the court, and the Panthers are the second member of the AMC to participate in this event, as Urbana was here last year.
Head Coach Dan Priest
Inheriting a program that had posted four-straight losing seasons, Head Coach Dan Priest took over the ODC program three years ago and has posted winning records in his first two seasons. He is 41-31 so far at the helm of the Panther program that cracked the NAIA national top 20 rankings in both of his first two seasons. Priest graduated from nearby Ohio Northern University, where is the school's career 3-point percentage leader. Prior to taking over the ODC program, Priest spent seven seasons at Hanover College, a perennial force in the powerful Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, of which Bluffton is a member.
Ohio Dominican has twice won three straight games this season and is now 7-5 overall with a 2-1 record in the AMC. The Panthers are a perfect 4-0 at home so far in 2001-02, but 3-5 away from the Merillat Center.
Despite the fact that Ohio Dominican graduated five seniors from last year's team and doesn't have a senior on this year's team, the Panther coaching staff had high expectations going into this season, and so far they are proving to be correct. Last season's AMC Freshman of the Year, Ryan Wilson, is back and leads the team this season with 16.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He is shooting 57.1% from the field and is even hotter from 3-point range, where he's shooting 68.8% (11-16). He ranks 13th in the AMC in scoring, 8th in rebounding and 1st in field goal percentage.
The lone upperclassman on the squad is returning starter junior Eric Jenkins (6.2 ppg), while sophomore Jeremy Renner (6.9 ppg) was also a varsity regular last season. A pair of freshmen guards, Mike Fiebig and Mike Lee, rank second and fourth on the team in scoring and are listed among the AMC's top shooters. Fiebig is the league's fifth-best 3-point shooter at 47.2%, while Lee is fourth in the conference in free throw shooting at 81.1%.
ODC tops in five AMC stats
Ohio Dominican leads the American Mideast Conference in five statistical categories--that's two more than any other member of the 16-team league. The Panthers rank first in scoring margin (+17.1), rebounding margin (+8.3), turnover margin (+4.6), free throw percentage (74.5%) and fewest opponent rebounds allowed per game (30.8). And when the Panthers win; they win big. ODC has scored 100 or more points in four games this season and their seven wins have come by an average margin of 33.3 points. Their five losses have come by average of just 5.6 points and ODC ranks third in scoring defense (66.5 ppg allowed). When the Panthers step back beyond the arc they are quite efficient, hitting 37.7% of their attempts from 3-point land (5th in AMC).
Panther history note
In 1968, an all-female institution in Columbus called St. Mary of the Springs began admitting men and changed its named to Ohio Dominican College. Since then, the men's basketball team has gone to three NAIA national tournaments and the baseball team has gone made three appearances in the NAIA World Series.