2002-03 Men's Basketball
bc hosts dc
Bluffton to host Defiance Wednesday night for 170th meeting in all-time seriesBy Tim Stried
January 20, 2003
Setting the scene
Wednesday night is the 170th meeting between these two schools in a series that dates back to 1916. Bluffton's 106-103 win over the Yellow Jackets here last season was a game that no one in attendance will soon forget and a game that BC head coach Guy Neal called the greatest game he's been associated with since his arrival at Bluffton in 1989. After playing three straight road games, Bluffton will enjoy two in a row at home, while Wednesday Defiance begins a six game stretch that will include five road games. Wednesday Bluffton will meet its last "new" opponent of the season, as the Beavers have already played each of their remaining eight opponents.
The series (Defiance leads 115-54)
Defiance leads the all-time series against Bluffton 115-54 and had won six straight games over the Beavers before Bluffton's win here last year on Feb. 13. BC has won four of the last seven meetings with Defiance in Founders Hall.
With Bluffton's victory Sat. at Transylvania, head coach Guy Neal now has 142 wins at BC, which gives him sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list. Neal is closing in on leader Glenn Snyder, who won 150 games. Neal's six winning seasons are second only to Hall of Famer A.C. Burcky's total of seven. Defiance is led by head coach Tom Palombo, who owns a 93-58 record in his sixth season with the men's program at DC. Prior to his current position, Palombo compiled a 78-7 record in three seasons at the helm of the Yellow Jacket women's team.
Bluffton's win at Transylvania Sat. snapped the Beavers' three-game losing skid as BC improved to 7-9 overall and 1-5 in the HCAC. Bluffton is 4-4 at home this season. Defiance, meanwhile, had their five-game winning streak snapped Sat. at home against Mount St. Joseph and now sees their record stand at 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the HCAC. The Yellow Jackets are 3-2 on the road this season.
Bluffton is coming off a 93-83 HCAC win at Transylvania Sat. as BC set a school record for 3-point shooting percentage in an HCAC game at 75.0% (12-for-16), which shattered the old mark of 61.9% (13-for-21) set last year at home against Defiance on Feb. 13. The Beavers shot .633 for total field goals to set a season-high as senior Mike Leimeister scored 29 points and freshman Scott Bergman scored 20 in his first collegiate start. BC led by 18 points with 11:55 remaining in the game, but Transy came back to trail by just four points with six minutes to go. Leimeister scored 11 straight BC points, however, and TU didn't get any closer. Defiance, meanwhile, saw their five-game winning streak ended Sat. at home by Mount St. Joseph as the visiting Lions went on a 19-0 run in the first half to take control of the game and hold DC to a .367 shooting percentage from the field. Sophomore Jeremy Miklovic led Defiance with 22 points and seven rebounds.
These two teams met three times last season, with Defiance winning both games on their home court and Bluffton winning here in Founders Hall. All three-games were high scoring and very close, with Bluffton's win coming on Derek DeNero's 30-foot shot at the buzzer. The third game, which was an HCAC first-round tournament game, went down to the last second as BC missed a jumper from about 17 feet that would have won the game.
Hitting the century mark
The winning team in this match-up has scored at least 100 points in seven of the last nine games, which dates back to Bluffton's 100-91 win on Feb. 4, 1998.
Players-of-the-week here Wednesday
The last three HCAC players-of-the-week will be in action here Wednesday, with Bluffton's Mike Leimeister the recipient of two of those honors (Jan. 7, Jan. 20.) Defiance's Mike Kurdziel earned the award on Jan. 13. Both Leimeister and Kurdziel are seniors, while additionally, Defiance freshman Curt Croy earned the honor on Dec. 22.
Ottawa reunion in Founders Hall
The freshman trio of Bluffton's Eric Sweet and Defiance's Curt Croy and Matt Laudick were all teammates last season at Ottawa-Glandorf High School. That trio helped O-G advance to the regional finals before seeing their season ended by LaBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Senior Mike Leimeister's 23.1 points per game is tops in the HCAC this season and he ranks 2nd in rebounding (7.9 rpg) and 6th in field goal percentage (.558). In the three games against Defiance last season, Leimeister scored 100 points and grabbed 26 rebounds. Two other BC players are averaging in double figures, including senior Derek DeNero (11.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 23 3-pointers) and junior Brad Boyles (10.1 ppg), who ranks 2nd in field goal percentage (.620). Senior Marcus Bixler (9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) ranks 3rd in the HCAC in assists (4.5 apg), 4th in steals (1.7 spg) and 5th in 3-point shooting percentage (.435).
6-1 senior guard Mike Kurdziel leads the Yellow Jackets this season as he ranks 3rd in the HCAC in scoring (16.5 ppg), 2nd in assists (4.5 apg), 1st in free throw percentage (.911, 72-for-79) and 2nd in steals (2.1 spg). Defiance's next five leading scorers are all underclassmen, including 6-9 sophomore Jeremy Miklovic (14.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), freshman Curt Croy (14.3 ppg), freshman Matt Laudick (10.0 ppg), sophomore Matt Voland (7.4 ppg) and sophomore Brett Hammons (5.6 ppg).
These two teams are two of the better scoring and shooting clubs in the Heartland Conference again this season. Bluffton ranks 2nd in both total field goal percentage (.486) and 3-point percentage (.368) and ranks 5th in scoring (75.1 ppg). Defiance, meanwhile, ranks 2nd in the HCAC in scoring (86.3 ppg) and in free throw percentage (.738), where the Yellow Jackets have attempted the second-most freebies in the league. Defiance ranks 3rd in total field goal percentage (.467) but are uncharacteristically last in 3-point percentage (.333). The Yellow Jackets make up for that low 3-point percentage on the boards, however, as their +3.3 rebounding margin ranks 2nd.
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 258 consecutive games. The last time BC didn't make a 3-pointer was Jan. 6, 1993 when BC was 0-1 from behind the arc against Adrian in Founders Hall but won anyway 64-57.
Record in Founders Hall
Bluffton is now 287-264 (.521) in Founders Hall since the facility opened in 1952. BC is 62-46 (.577) in Founders Hall since the start of the 1993-94 season.
Around the HCAC
The top two teams in the HCAC will do battle Wednesday as Hanover hosts Anderson. Elsewhere, Transylvania hosts Franklin and Manchester hosts Mount St. Joseph.