2016-17 Men's Basketball
Men's Hoops Season Preview
November 8, 2016
BLUFFTON, Ohio - With two-time D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region honoree Thayne Recker gone following four years of dominating the low blocks, the Bluffton University men’s basketball team will change gears and work from the outside in when the 2016-17 squad hits the hardwood in November. Recker left Bluffton #5 all-time on the career scoring list with 1,613 tallies. He shattered the career free throws made mark of 424 by Mark Froning (1965-68) with 465 conversions at the line and Recker was just the fourth Beaver to finish with at least 1,600 points and 750 boards.
Growing defensively is one of Coach Neal’s points of emphasis heading into the 2016-17 season. “We need to get back to guarding as a unit,” emphasized Coach Neal. “Our identity is forged at the defensive end.” Pressuring the ball will be high on Bluffton’s list of priorities as the Beavers look to take advantage of their guard play this season.
Providing Bluffton with a legitimate Heartland Conference Player of the Year candidate is senior Austin Rohde (Shelby). A Second Team All-HCAC selection in 2015-16, Rohde has shown tremendous improvement each of his first three years as a Beaver. He was fourth in the Heartland Conference with 17.7 PPG while showing a deft stroke from distance, 50-of-109 (45.9 percent), which was third in the HCAC. Rohde’s ability to get to the rim helped him to a 51.1 FG percentage (160-313) which placed him 13th in the conference. He is at #49 on the all-time scoring list with 767 points heading into his senior campaign.
Trey Elchert (Jackson Center) is an experienced point guard who moved into the starting lineup last season as a junior. Fellow senior Adam Hopkins (Wellington/Keystone) missed the second half of his 2015-16 campaign while undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was enjoying a breakout season and is ready to go back to work as Bluffton’s enforcer in the paint. Also looking to provide depth in the post is senior Josh Carey (Bellefontaine).
Helping ease Bluffton’s transition are junior guards Austin Terrill (Richwood/North Union) and Austin Moore (Maumee/St. John’s Jesuit), a pair of long-range marksman who have the ability to extend opposing defenses. Moore missed his sophomore season with a knee injury while Terrill took advantage, starting in nine games while knocking down 30 triples. Transfer Kevin Christie (Miamisburg/Bishop Fenwick) showed growth late in his first season with the Beavers, doling out 25 assists in limited time on the floor. Andrew Hunter (Arlington) rounds out Bluffton’s experienced backcourt for 2016-17.
Headlining a talented corps of sophomores this season will be Jared Wentling (Carey), a versatile forward who can work around the basket as well as light it up from downtown. Wentling dropped in 9.4 PPG on 50 percent shooting from the field (101-of-202) and he was third in the Heartland Conference with 7.2 RPG. Martin Maksvytis (Dayton/Franklin-Monroe) was a regular in Coach Neal’s rotation and the Beavers will count on his athleticism being on the floor in 2016-17. Austin Buchholz (Holgate) gained valuable experience in the post after Hopkins was sidelined and Justis Dowdy (Van Wert/Lincolnview) will look to increase his on-court role as a sophomore.
Bluffton kicks off the season with Ohio-State Lima for the opener on Thursday, Nov. 17 before traveling to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., for their Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Heartland Conference opener is Saturday, Dec. 3 when the Beavers head to Transylvania. The annual McDonald’s Holiday Tournament is slated for Dec. 30-31, setting up two months of Heartland Conference action that will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 18, against Hanover College.
Come out and fill up the Sommer Center when the Beavers hit the hardwood for another exciting season of Bluffton basketball!