No seniors, no problem.
Despite losing five seniors from its 2017 squad, and with none on its 2018 team, Oberlin men’s basketball team will lean on a trio of experienced underclassmen to lead the way as it tries to improve off of a 3-22 season and 10th-place finish in the North Coast Athletic Conference (2-16).
Oberlin was picked to finish last in the conference again in the recent NCAC preseason coaches’ poll, something the team won’t forget.
“We’re taking that as motivation,” said junior Eli Silverman-Lloyd, whose team is 1-1 heading into the championship game of the Oberlin College Tip-Off Classic today. “Teams remember us from last year and coming into this year are not going to expect much out of that. We expect to be able to surprise the conference and we have high expectations for this season.”
Silverman-Lloyd is the team’s top returning scorer, averaging 9.4 points per game and shooting 34 percent from 3-point range. He’s also one of the three aforementioned veterans the team will lean on heavily both on the court and off.
The second member is point guard Joshua Friedkin — who started 23 of 25 games as a freshman and notched 75 assists, good for second on the team. He averaged 23.8 minutes per game and 8.1 points.
Last year, he broke out against Illinois Institute of Technology — the fifth game of the season — leading Oberlin with 18 points and dropping five assists. He finished the year strong with double-digit efforts against two of the NCAC’s top teams — with 10 against Wooster and his career-best 20 against Wittenberg.
“The biggest difference for me was just the size and length that’s on the court at any given time,” Friedkin said. “The two biggest things are usually size and speed. Early on that was difficult for me. I probably put myself in some situations early on that I didn’t want to be in because I was moving too fast to try and keep up with the game.”
Rounding out Oberlin’s trio is sophomore Andre Campbell, who was fourth in the NCAC with a .576 field goal percentage last year. Like Friedkin, he also finished the year strong with double-digit scoring efforts in five of the Yeomen’s last seven games, also grabbing at least four rebounds five times over that span. His career-best 20-point effort came against Wabash.
“Josh, Dre and Eli have done a good job of embracing a young captain’s role,” Oberlin coach Isaiah Cavaco said. “A lot of times when you get a title, like being captain, sometimes it can be used the wrong way, but these guys understand that they do it collectively. They set the tone for the whole team, we’re all in this together, and it’s neat to see how they recruit the younger guys in to help lead.”
Campbell will transition back to power forward after playing his freshman year at center out of necessity. The Yeomen have an influx of young bigs coming into the program who will look to help address their biggest weakness in 2017 — size.
Freshmen Isaac Finestone and Jordan Armstrong are both 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 sophomore Charles Tiedemann returns from an ankle injury that limited him to just 11 games in 2017.
“It’s really awesome,” Friedkin said of the team’s newfound post depth. “That was the one thing that killed us last year, we couldn’t rebound the ball. We couldn’t outrebound the bigger teams. I don’t think that’s going to be as much of a problem this year.
“It frees everything up on the offensive end with bigger and harder screens. And defensively we don’t have to double down on the post as much because we can trust those guys to hold their ground. And then rebounding, the taller guy usually gets the ball.”