Capital University men’s basketball is a force to be reckoned with, plain and simple.
Though the team has been competitive in years past, this season has brought success and a realistic chance at victory beyond the regular season.
“A lot of it comes down to … experience,” Andy Winters, assistant coach, said. In addition to having been men’s basketballs assistant coach for four years, Winters has also spent two years as Capital’s head strength and conditioning coach.
“In the last couple years, our [current] senior class was playing as freshmen and sophomores,” Winters said. “Their experience, their maturity, their leadership, them being through three seasons has been the … positive change.”
Two of the senior leaders that Winters spoke of are guards Joey Weingartner and Austin Schreck. Both have spent all four years of their college career in the basketball program.
Schreck attributes his personal success as well as the winning culture of the 2018-19 team to four years of play in a competitive conference.
Personal resolve also fuels Schreck, Weingartner, and their fellow seniors.
“You’ve had five seniors drift through three sub-par years,” Weingartner said. “And we all kind of made that decision in our heads … that we want to turn things around, work harder, and make a better year for our last year.”
Schreck also expresses discontent with past seasons, comparatively calling them “average and mediocre.”
Weingartner highlighted the importance of this mindset to the underclassmen and said that it had been, “a special opportunity as upperclassmen to kind of show some of those younger guys what it is like to be part of a winning program.”
Schreck agreed, saying that the underclassmen are “pretty bought in and the future is pretty bright here.”
Winters also credited the program’s underclassmen as vital to the recent wins, but spoke instead of their roles as backups.
“This is the first year that we’ve had some underclassmen that have been in more backup roles,” Winters said of the team’s depth. “… Everybody’s position, because of the seniors, are more as backup roles instead of leaders, and I think that’s a great experience for a good team to have …”
In addition to the roles of underclassmen, both Schreck and Weingartner said that taking things game by game will be another key to victory, especially entering the second half of the season. The Crusaders will see their Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) competition for a second time, and play more road games than in the first half of conference play.
“The playoffs are ages away…” Weingartner said of the team’s attitude toward the latter half of the season. “… Our confidence is high… we’re just going to take it one game at a time.”
The Crusaders have already had several key victories against OAC opponents the first time around. They defeated the Blue Streaks of John Carroll University, a yearly conference threat, by over ten points on Jan. 12, and took down the Marietta College Pioneers, who were ranked tenth in all of Division III at the time of their defeat, in Marietta earlier that week. Another notable win for the Crusaders was the 102-49 destruction of Ohio Northern University on Jan. 18.
It is also worth mentioning that both Schreck and Weingartner have hit the 1,000-point mark this season, capitalizing on solid years as underclassmen in the program.
The second half of the season sees the Crusaders face off against both John Carroll and Marietta once more, as well as a second contest against the University of Mount Union, whom Winters said “is having a great year.”
Although the season is far from over, Capital men’s basketball is set up well for the rest of their year. Behind the leadership and scoring power of seniors such as Austin Schreck and Joey Weingartner, an OAC championship and more is well within reach.