Preparation is key across athletics, and when you have an opportunity to match yourself with an opponent that will truly stretch your abilities, you take it.
Capital University men’s basketball got this opportunity on Nov. 2, when they traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to play a preseason exhibition game against the University of Dayton. Facing off against a Division I opponent is quite a challenge, let alone the perennially tough Dayton Flyers. Although the the final score ended up 89-71 in the Flyers’ favor, Crusader head coach Damon Goodwin was full of praise for how his athletes played.
“I liked the way that our starting five played, I liked the way our seniors played. They showed a lot of maturity, they showed a lot of toughness. They were physically able to compete with those guys, that team which is full of scholarship players,” he said.
While Goodwin complimented his team’s overall effort against a formidable Division I foe, he said that it was depth that gave Dayton the edge.
“Our second unit struggled a little bit because they didn’t have that physicality that maybe our first team has … some of that experience,” Goodwin said.
Participating in a game like this highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and although Goodwin agrees that there are definitely weaknesses, the game has given both coaches and players insight upon which to build as the regular season grows closer.
“We really need to work on making sure our guys that come off the bench are playing at [the] level that our first group is,” Goodwin said of the adjustments that need to happen within the bench. He said that learning the system of a college team can be a tough process for the first-year athletes, and that many are “just trying to catch up physically.”
This exhibition game also held a personal connection for Goodwin. The Capital head coach, who is in his 25th year in charge, played college basketball at the University of Dayton. Goodwin played at Dayton from 1982 to 1986, and played alongside current Flyers head coach Anthony Grant for three of his four seasons. During Goodwin’s time at Dayton, the Flyers had two NCAA tournament appearances, one in 1984 and another in 1985.
In part, it was Goodwin’s connection with Grant that led to this preseason matchup between the Flyers and the Crusaders.
“We’ve played them two other times,” Goodwin said. “We played them in ’03 or ’04 … and ’08, but this is obviously the first time where [Grant] had the job.”
The game not only held significance for the two head coaches involved, but for Capital’s athletes as well. Two of them hail from the Dayton metropolitan area: senior forward Joey Weingartner of Centerville and first-year guard Ryan Rose of Tipp City.
Experience against larger, tougher, opponents is good for the Crusaders, because they will be dealing with a very competitive conference. Although the men were predicted sixth out of ten in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) preseason poll, it was clear that Goodwin puts little stock in such ratings. He says that any of the top six teams that the OAC poll ranked could very well beat one another, although he mentions John Carroll University and Marietta College as yearly powerhouses.
The exhibition game against the University of Dayton was the only preseason contest for the men’s basketball team aside from an alumni game. The team hopes to be able to put what they learned from playing a Division I team to good use against a long list of Division III opponents as the season begins. Men’s basketball will open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 16, when they travel to Michigan to face Albion College.