2017-18 Men's Basketball
November 3, 2017
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University basketball team will reload in 2017-18 following the graduation of two top 15 all-time scorers over the past two seasons. Austin Rohde netted 20.5 PPG as a senior, giving him 1,279 career points (14th all-time), including over 950 the last two years. Rohde capped off his stellar career by being just one of six players to earn First Team All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors! Two-time D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region honoree Thayne Recker left Bluffton #5 all-time on the career scoring list with 1,613 tallies, becoming just the fourth Beaver to finish with at least 1,600 points and 750 boards when he graduated in 2016.
Senior Kevin Christie (Miamisburg/Bishop Fenwick) moved into the starting lineup midway through the 2016-17 season, showing off his considerable ball handling skills and ability to get into the key. He handed out 89 assists while knocking down 49-of-60 from the stripe (81.7 percent). Andrew Hunter (Arlington) played in all 25 games, doling out 33 assists with 11 steals while draining 15-of-32 (48.9 percent) from distance as a junior. Hunter and Christie have been selected team captains for 2017-18.
Coming off All-Heartland Conference honors as a sophomore, Jared Wentling (Carey), bucketed 13.8 PPG on 151-of-290 from the field and his 52.1 percent from the field was 9th in the conference. Despite matching up against the biggest bruisers in the conference, Wentling ripped down 7.6 boards per game (2nd in the HCAC). He dished out 26 assists, came up with 23 steals and blocked a team-high 19 shots this season.
Justis Dowdy (Van Wert/Lincolnview) gave the Beavers big minutes off the bench in 2016-17, putting up 4.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG on 60.5 percent FG shooting (49-of-81). Austin Buchholz (Holgate) was sidelined for much of last season with an injury, but Bluffton will count on him in the post, much like it did his freshman year when he saw action in 12 games. Sophomore Colton Rose (Hamilton, Ind./Hamilton) gives the Beavers added depth on the wing.
Injuries kept freshman sharpshooter Andrew Renner (Cairo/Bath) on the bench for all but seven games in 2016-17. He made his mark early, starting all seven of those contests while dropping in 9.1 PPG on 21-of-41 shooting from the field (51.2 percent), including 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) on triples. Nick Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) and Kordell Stover (Ottawa-Glandorf) provide depth out front, while Isaiah Taylor (Yellow Springs) has the size and skill to control the paint this season.
Bluffton’s outside shooting improved dramatically last year, going from 34.2 in 2015-16 to 36.8 percent in 2016-17. Getting to the charity stripe and converting on those opportunities is always a point of emphasis for Coach Neal and his staff. The Beavers slipped from 76.3 percent to 74.5 while also taking 20 fewer attempts. Bluffton surrendered nearly two more PPG thanks to the opposition hitting 49.1 percent from the field, so improving defensive efficiency will be an even higher priority this season.
Bluffton heads to Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, to open the 2017-18 season on November 17. The Beavers home opener is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 21, when Bluffton welcomes Ohio Midwestern to the Sommer Center. Heartland Conference action kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 2 with a women’s and men’s doubleheader against Transylvania University. The annual McDonald’s Holiday Tournament is slated for Dec. 29-30, setting up two months of Heartland Conference play that will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 17, against Franklin College.
Come out and fill up the Sommer Center when the Beavers hit the hardwood for another exciting season of Bluffton basketball!