By ANDY WOLF
Aaron Overhiser and the rest of his University of Findlay teammates have enjoyed a “spirited” week of practice following their first loss of the season.
The No. 17-ranked men’s basketball team has to regroup after Saturday’s 82-69 road loss at Cedarville.
The Oilers are back in the comfort of their own gymnasium when they host Walsh at 7:30 p.m. today in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play today at Croy Gymnasium.
“We don’t like losing,” said Overhiser, a 6-foot-7 junior forward. “It’s always tough. It’s always a hard pill to swallow.”
The Oilers (6-1, 1-1 GMAC) also had to battle back from down 22 points to win the league opener at Tiffin.
Walsh (6-3, 2-0) is one of three unbeatens left after one week of GMAC action.
The Cavaliers outlasted Ohio Dominican (77-69, OT) before throttling Ohio Valley (96-65).
Eighth-year UF head coach Charlie Ernst is positive his players will bounce back.
“They don’t like to lose anymore than the coaches like to lose,” he said. “Part of the reason we recruit guys from winning programs and are used to winning is because they tend to bounce back rather well from losses, not just on game night but on practice Monday.”
To rebound from a loss, UF must physically outrebound the GMAC’s No. 1 rebounding team.
Walsh averages 43.0 boards per game and a margin of plus-6.6 per game.
Findlay lost its battle on the boards 41-36 to Tiffin and 38-27 to Cedarville.
Ernst is giving it some re-emphasis with the tie-in of playing better one-on-one defense to force missed shots.
“Coming into the year, and really into the early part of our season, that was a strength of ours,” Ernst said of rebounding.
Part of his growth into the starting lineup has been getting accustomed to perimeter play.
As his role has expanded, Overhiser is still looking to improve as a rebounder by knowing when to crash from outside.
In his first year as a full-time starter, he ranks second on UF in scoring (15.1) and rebounding (4.6).
Both rank behind senior 6-foot-7 forward Alex White (17.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) — his roommate since their first year on campus.
They’d never spent a minute of game time on the court together before this season.
“Growing up in high school I was always a center,” said Overhiser. “My natural instinct is to be under the hoop.
“A lot of times I’m spacing the court now.”
Overhiser redshirted his first year at UF before spending the next two seasons as a reserve center.
Learning behind and battling against some UF greats in John Staley and Taren Sullivan helped get acclimated to a bigger workload as a junior.
Always an efficient scorer, Overhiser is shooting bests of 59 percent from the field and 54.2 percent (13 of 24) from beyond the arc.
He hasn’t adopted the 3-point shot overnight.
It’s one he’s been working on all his life.
“I’m a bigger guy, so that’s where people don’t expect me to step out and shoot the ball,” Overhiser said.
Ernst noted the matchup between Overhiser and Walsh’s J.T. Shumate as an “interesting one”.
Shumate is 6-foot-7, like Overhiser, but a true freshman from Newark High School. He’s also the reigning GMAC Athlete of the Week.
His season slashline of 17.3 ppg on 51.6 percent, 40.8 (20 of 49) from 3, and 6.7 rpg reads similarly to Overhiser’s.
“He’s got a nice overall skill set,” Ernst said of Shumate. “He’s got a bright future.”
Walsh’s starting lineup is littered with youth after a few key transfers and graduations.
First-team all-GMAC guard Chandler Vaudrin transferred to Winthrop while honorable mention Bo Furcron is no longer on the roster.
Junior forward Sterling Christy (14.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is the upperclassman to start the last four games.
Sophomore guard Darryl Straughter (17.2 ppg) was the GMAC freshman of the year. He’s also 29 of 59 from 3-point range.
“On top of what else he can do on offense, he’s the floor general,” Ernst said.
Freshman Reece Bogan chips in 10.9 ppg and 4.9 rpg while sophomore Caleb Canter (5.9 ppg) is also a first-year starter.
“They feel like they’ve picked up where they left off last year,” Ernst said. “It’s always a fun game to be a part of because these are two programs that take a lot of pride in a long history of success.”
Findlay’s women’s basektball team is equally coming off its first loss of the season, also to Cedarville (74-70).
The Oilers (3-1, 1-1) host Walsh (5-2, 2-0) at 5:30 p.m. today.
UF won the season series 2-1 last season, with the home team winning each game before the Oilers prevailed 70-59 in the GMAC tournament semifinals.
UF senior forward Anna Hintz leads the league in scoring (23.3), rebounding (11.3) and blocks (seven).
She’s also shooting a GMAC-best 55.4 percent from the field.
Close behind her in most categories is Walsh’s 6-foot freshman Quionche Carter (20.3 ppg, 2nd) at 54.5 percent (2nd). Her 7.0 rebounds per game rank fourth.