Basketball preview: Wittenberg optimistic in second year under Croci

Chad Roy is top returning scorer for Tigers


Chad Roy’s teammates posed in front of the shattered backboard. Then he took his turn, the rim hanging limply by his side inside Pam Evans Smith Arena.

Ten days before Friday’s season opener, the Wittenberg Tigers saw how how much strength their one returning starter has. Roy, a 6-foot-9 senior post from Toledo, broke the backboard while dunking during practice. It was just a normal dunk. He had never broken a backboard before and wasn’t trying to do so this time.

WITT FOOTBALL

»Ranking top playoff games in Fincham era

»Tigers to open playoffs at home

Roy’s teammates reacted as if he had made a last-second shot.

“For a second, there was silence,” Roy said. “Then everyone went crazy.”

In the second year for head coach Matt Croci, Wittenberg hopes to enjoy a few similar experiences when the real games begin. The Tigers open the season against Mount St. Joseph at 2 p.m. Friday at the Great Lakes Invitational at Marietta College. They also play Birmingham Southern at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Wittenberg finished 18-9 last season, increasing its win total for the third straight season. Wittenberg lost four starters from that team: Jaelin Williams (11.6); Cody Phillippi (11.2); Landon Hormann (8.2); and Shane Edwards (8.0). Ryan Gallimore (5.3), who started 13 games, is another key loss. Roy (10.4) is the top returning scorer.

The Tigers were picked to finish third in the NCAC behind Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan.

“We’re definitely positive going into this year,” Roy said. “We’re very young. But we’ve got a lot of energy.”

There’s a lot of responsibility on Roy’s shoulders, Croci said, and he has handled the pressure well.

“I know he will respond to it because every year he’s been here he’s come back a much better player than the year before,” Croci said. “I’ve already seen that from his junior year to this year. He knows we’re relying on him. He knows we need him to produce.”

Along with Roy, Croci expects the starting lineup to include the following players:

Mitch Balser: The 6-0 point guard from Centerville High School played the last two seasons for Wittenberg’s longtime rival Wooster.

• Jake Bertemes: The Southeastern grad, a 5-11 sophomore guard, saw limited action in nine games last season.

• Michael Morgan: The 6-1 sophomore guard, from Bishop Hartley in Columbus, appeared in 13 games last season.

• James Johnson: The 6-6 freshman forward from Roger Bacon in Cincinnati has been the best player in the freshman class.

“Most of that class has been kind of what we thought,” Croci said. “It was kind of our highest-needed position, that stretch four small forward. We thought we had a good one with him, and he has delivered. It has been fun to watch.”

Women’s team: The Wittenberg women’s basketball team also opens the season Friday, playing Spalding University at 8 p.m. in the Wilmington Tip-Off Tournament.

This is the second season for coach Kelly Mahlum, who was named interim coach before last season. She had the interim tag removed in May. She’s the eighth head coach in Wittenberg history.

The The Tigers finished 10-16 last season and 6-10 in the NCAC. Wittenberg returns its top scorer, junior guard Alex Kiess (12.8 points per game). Wittenberg was picked to finish fifth in the NCAC.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

King James: LeBron’s 3-pointer at the buzzer saves Cavs
King James: LeBron’s 3-pointer at the buzzer saves Cavs

The game, the series, the season and perhaps Cleveland’s future were in jeopardy. LeBron James saved everything. James dropped a 3-pointer at the buzzer, a crowning moment for another one of his brilliant performances, to give Cleveland a 98-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in Game 5, putting the Cavaliers within one victory...
Prized prospect makes MLB debut, Braves edge Reds
Prized prospect makes MLB debut, Braves edge Reds

Prized prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. looked like a polished veteran. The 20-year-old Acuna singled and scored the tying run in the eighth inning of his big league debut, and the Atlanta Braves went on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Wednesday night. Acuna became the youngest player in the majors when he was called up from Triple-A before the game. He went...
HS Roundup 4/25: Carroll beats state-ranked Badin

Carroll knocked off state-ranked Badin 6-2 in prep baseball action on Wednesday. Zach Westergerdes and Jake Maurer had two hits and two RBI apiece to lead Carroll on offense. On the mound Trent Randall picked up the victory and Martin O’Grady nailed down the save. Baseball Lebanon 1, Northmont 0: Noah Frankenberg and Trevor Richmond combined...
HS Scores 4/25: Southeastern edges WLS, Lebanon shuts out Northmont

Baseball Tuesday’s Results Benjamin Logan 9, Indian Lake 8 Coldwater 7, New Bremen 4 St. Henry 11, Delphos St. John 3 Versailles 12, New Knoxville 2 Wednesday’s Results Ben Logan 9, Indian Lake 8 Brookville 6, Valley View 2 Carroll 6, Badin 2 Fort Loramie 6, Anna 5 Kenton Ridge 6, Springboro 3 Lebanon 1, Northmont 0 Northeastern 10, Mechanicsburg...
Nebraska’s Scott Frost: Coaches, players ‘aren’t happy,’ ‘aren’t satisfied’ with progress yet
Nebraska’s Scott Frost: Coaches, players ‘aren’t happy,’ ‘aren’t satisfied’ with progress yet

Ever since Nebraska football hired Scott Frost as its coach back in December, there has been plenty of optimism surrounding the program. The team has made progress throughout its spring practices, had a very successful spring game and appears to be geared up for a successful season in 2018. However, the strong showing...
More Stories