By BRIAN LESTER
Mark Frilling has put in a lot of time and effort to get to where he is now as a college basketball player.
Frilling played in only 13 games as a freshman at the University of Findlay, averaging only 5.3 minutes per game, a dramatic drop off in playing time for someone who was an honorable mention all-Ohio selection during his senior season at Fort Loramie.
“I always got the scrub minutes as a freshman. It was a gut check for me,” Frilling said. “I wanted to make sure that I played more. It’s been a fun journey.”
Four years later, the journey has paid off for the 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward. Frilling is starter who averages 4.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, but more importantly, he does the little things well and plays with all-out energy.
“Everyone sets goals, and my goal was to get more playing time on the team,” Frilling said. “I wanted to have a bigger role and play a part in our success.”
It’s no surprise Frilling has made significant strides with the Oilers, who are back on the road tonight as they take on Ohio Dominican in a 7:30 p.m. Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tilt at Alumni Hall in Columbus.
After all, Frilling works hard and never takes his foot off the accelerator.
“It’s the way I’ve always played. It’s the way I was taught to play,” Frilling said. “I like to play the game that way. It’s fun.”
Frilling and the Oilers (9-3, 5-3 GLIAC)) would like to have fun savoring the thrill of another win as they begin a quest for the program’s 12th division title.
Beating the Panthers (3-9, 1-7) won’t be easy.
“I don’t care who you are playing in this conference, it’s going to be a war every time,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. “Their record is deceiving. If you go back and look at their scores, they haven’t lost hardly any games by a wide margin. We will have our work cut out for us.”
The Panthers have lost seven consecutive games and have won only once since Nov. 14 when they knocked off Saginaw Valley State 76-69 on on Dec. 5. Four of their seven losses during the streak have been by five points or less.
ODU averages 71.8 points per game and allows 76.8. The Panthers are shooting 44.5 percent from the floor and opponents are shooting 45 percent from the field. They average 12.1 turnovers per game and force 10.2.
“They have improved a lot defensively, and anytime you improve on defense, you stay in most games,” Ernst said. “They are still young and still figuring out how to win those close games. But they have improved a lot since last year and we will have to play well to win.”
ODU is coming off a 78-75 loss to Northwood on Saturday and is led by sophomore guard Mark Minch, who is averaging 17.8 ppg. He has racked up nine steals as well.
Sophomore guard Chad Nelson is clicking for 13.0 points per outing and has knocked down 14 treys. Sophomore forward Trent Weaver is averaging 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He has blocked 11 shots as well.
“Without a doubt, they have players who can score, but I also think they are under-rated as a rebounding team,” Ernst said. “We have to be able to understand matchups, limit them to one shot and make defense a focal point of our game.”
Frilling said doing the little things right is important as well, something that tends to come naturally for a player who owns a 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.
“A lot of it just comes down to common sense when I make heads up plays,” Frilling said. “Those plays win games.”
The Oilers, NCAA Division II national champions in 2009 and on track for a 13th consecutive 20-win season, wear a target on their back. And as Ernst mentioned last week, the target tends to grow against in-state opponents.
For the Oilers, who average 86.8 points per outing and allow 73.5, the key to survival is playing hard from start to finish.
“Our players understand the importance of converting on chances and not letting up even a little bit,” Ernst said. “Teams are too good in this conference to do that. We have to play hard and play to the buzzer.”
UF women seek rebound
The Oilers are coming off an 86-80 loss to Wayne State on Saturday where they pushed the conference-leading Warriors to the limit.
The Panthers (4-8, 1-7) are on a five-game losing streak. They lost 65-58 to Northwood on Saturday despite a double-double from Melissa Scherpenberg, who scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Kacee Hockenberry, a Wayne Trace graduate, led the way with 19 points and is the Panthers’ leading scorer as she averages 15.5 points per game. The junior guard has made 12 treys on the season and has racked up 11 steals. Hockenberry is the only ODU player who averages more than 10 points per outing.
Scherpenberg, a sophomore forward, is clicking for 9.2 ppg and is grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game.
The Panthers are averaging 60.4 points per outing and allow only 63.8 ppg.
ODU is shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 24.3 percent from 3-point range. Opponents are shooting only 39 percent from the floor against the Panthers.
The Oilers average 72.3 points per outing and allow 69.3. They have scored 70 or more five times and Margaret Wuebker is the leading scorer at 11.9 ppg. She also leads the team in rebounding, grabbing 5.2 rebounds per outing.
Former Riverdale standout Lacey Kessler is second on the team in scoring, clicking for 11.4 ppg, and she has led or tied for the team lead in scoring six times. Kessler and Karli Beasley are tied for second in steals with 21.
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