Tigers Look Forward To New Season
Photo by Koehler Photography
Wittenberg University's men's basketball team expects the return of six letterwinners as it prepares for the 2002-03 season in pursuit of winning a third consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship. The 2001-02 Tigers captured the NCAC regular season title and the conference's postseason tournament. This propelled them to a berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament and an overall record of 26-4. The Tigers defeated Franklin College (Ind.) in advancing to the round of 32.
The Tigers graduated several key players from last year's squad including 2nd Team All-NCAC selection Greg Rustad, starting wing Chad Mossing, and invaluable substitute Brian Gratsch. Rustad, started all 30 games and proved to be the team's best perimter defensive player as well as a clutch offensive performer. Mossing, a four-year letter winner, also started all 30 games and was second on the team in three point field goals made (57). Gratsch, who battled back from a severe knee infection, shared team Defensive Player of the Year honors with Rustad. In addition, Gratsch was the Tiger Coaches Award recipient that recognizes outstanding leadership ability.
Heading the list of returnees this season are two starters, senior Kevin Longley (Vandalia, Ohio/Butler), and senior B.J. Harris (Riverside, Ohio/Stebbins). Longley, a 6-7 forward, was second on the team in scoring (9.7) and rebounding (6.7). Longley was selected to the All-NCAC second team. Harris, a 6-7 forward, led the squad in scoring (12.6), rebounding (8.5), and free throws attempted (110). Harris, the Tiger's MVP, was a first team All-NCAC selection as well as a member of the All-Great Lakes Region second team.
Other returning letterwinners expected to vie for starting positions and key playing roles are 6-6 junior forward Peter Walker (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier), 6-1 junior guard Rod Emmons (South Bend, Ind./John Adams), 5-10 sophomore guard Danny Brywczynski (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont), and 6-3 wing Andy Bucheit (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle).
Walker was extremely productive off the bench finishing the year as the team's third leading scorer (8.9) and rebounder (5.5). Walker, who had off season surgery to correct a season long shoulder problem, should be stronger than ever. Emmons had an outstanding season off the bench. He led the team in three point field goals made (60) while shooting an excellent 44% from behind the arc. Brywczynski and Bucheit, the only freshmen to letter, saw extensive action and increased playing time as the season progressed.
The Tigers have, as is its tradition, put together a very challenging schedule for the 2002-03 season. In addition to their very demanding NCAC schedule, the Tigers will also test themselves with difficult non-conference games. This year's Wittenberg/Kiwanis Classic moves to a tip off tournament and teams include Alma College (MI), John Carroll University, and Ohio Dominican College. On Thanksgiving weekend the Tigers will play at the Franklin College (IN) tournament in which all four participating teams (Wittenberg, Franklin, St. Norbert (WI), Aurora University (IL) competed in the NCAA Division III national tournament. The rest of the non-conference schedule includes local NAIA scholarship school Cedarville College, long-time, traditional foe Otterbein College, perennial Ohio Athletic Conference power Ohio Northern University, and former NCAC member Case Western Reserve University.
Wittenberg is the winningest program among all 350+ NCAA Division III basketball programs by victories (1,438) and is second in winning percentage (.703). When compared to all NCAA basketball programs, Wittenberg's winning percentage ranks eighth, in front of such powers as UCLA, Kansas, Syracuse and Duke. In addition, the Tigers have more Division III tournament appearances (21), victories (42) and Final Four berths (6) than any other program in the country. In 46 consecutive winning seasons, dating back to 1956-57, the Tigers have averaged 21 wins per season and won 29 regular season conference titles.
TIGERS IN THE NCAC
Wittenberg is the winningest team in the NCAC when records are compared for the league's 17-year history in conference games. The Tiger's thirteen-year NCAC record is 199-35 (.850). Wittenberg has won the regular season title nine of the thirteen years they have been in the league.
HOME SWEET HOME
Wittenberg's home court has traditionally been a very difficult place for opponents to play. Since the 1957-58 season, the Tigers have an incredible 467-51 record at home for a .900 winning percentage. Since moving into the HPERC Center in 1982, Wittenberg is 262-29 at home for a .900 winning mark in all games. In all NCAC regular season games since joining the conference in 1989, the Tigers have an even more amazing 210-18 home record for .910 percent. Much of this success is fueled by enthusiastic crowds that annually rank Wittenberg in the top ten for home game attendance among all NCAA Division III institutions.
COACH BILL BROWN
Head Coach Bill Brown (Wittenberg '73) has a record of 206-51 (.800) in nine seasons at his alma mater. His teams are 129-20 in NCAC play and 11-6 in NCAA tournament action. The Tigers have won five NCAC regular season titles in Brown's nine years. Under Brown's direction, Wittenberg teams have appeared in six NCAA Division III national tournaments with a trip to the Final Four in 1993-94, an Elite Eight appearance in 1995-96, and a Sweet Sixteen trip in 2001-02.
WULM (AM 1600) carries all the action of Wittenberg Tiger basketball, both at home and on the road. Coverage includes 15 minute pre-game and post-game shows with head coach Bill Brown as well as with selected Tiger players. Veteran sportscaster Marty Bannister calls the play-by-play.
WITTENBERG ON THE WEB AND TEAMLINE
Wittenberg's web site offers live world-wide broadcast of all Tiger basketball games via WULM as well as up-to-date information on the team. Scores, results, stats, boxscores and the most recent press releases are all available to anyone with access to the internet. Wittenberg University's home page address is http://www.wittenberg.edu.
In addition, all of WULM's broadcasts can also be heard anywhere in the world through an arrangement with TEAMLINE. TEAMLINE is accessed on a touchtone phone by calling 1-800-846-4700.
Wittenberg University is one of America's foremost undergraduate liberal arts and sciences universities. The school, founded in 1845, has over the past 157 years built an impressive reputation for academic distinction and for preparing outstanding graduates for successful professional careers and rewarding lives. Wittenberg, which has one of only 258 Phi Beta Kappa chapters nationwide, is mentioned in glowing terms in nearly every college reference book.
2002-03 Tiger Team Information
Letterwinners Returning: (6)
Danny Brywczynski (G, 6-0, 165, So.)
Andy Bucheit (W, 6-3, 175, So.)
Rod Emmons (G, 6-0, 175, Jr.)
B.J. Harris (P, 6-8, 240, Sr.)
Kevin Longley (F, 6-7, 220, Sr.)
Peter Walker (F, 6-7, 190, Jr.)
Letterwinners Lost: (4)
Mark Borland (G, 5-9, 160, Jr.)
Brian Gratsch (P, 6-7, 5.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
Chad Mossing (W, 6-3, 7.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Greg Rustad (G, 5-10, 8.4, 2.2 apg)
Other Returning Players: (8)
Brett Bowen (G, 6-0, 175, So.)
Jordan Copeland (W, 6-3, 190, So.)
Branden Fisher (W, 6-4, 190, So.)
Brady Hoane (G, 6-1, 165, So.)
Kenny Molz (G, 5-10, 155, So.)
Van Richardson (W, 6-5, 205, Jr.)
Grady Rogers (F, 6-5, 185, So.)
Will Alexander (W, 6-4, 185, Powell, Ohio/Olentangy)
Dane Borchers (F, 6-8, 195, Russia, Ohio/Russia)
Kenny Brady (F, 6-5, 210, Cincinnati, Ohio/Reading)
Sean Combs (W, 6-4, 185, Mason, Ohio/Mason)
C.F. Hix (F, 6-6, 235, Cincinnati, Ohio/Western Hills)
Greg Kimball (W, 6-1, 160 Mechanicsburg, Ohio/Sp. Cath. Central)
Daniel Russ (F, 6-9, 190, Louisville, Ky./Trinity)
Jonathan Scruggs (G, 6-1, 160, Maryville, Tenn./Maryville)
Phil Steffes (G, 6-0, 170, Centerville, Ohio/Centerville)