Oakland City University basketball teams will play host Saturday to the familiar and the unfamiliar.
The Lady Oaks will open the 1 p.m. doubleheader in the Johnson Center vs. the University of Indianapolis, where they fell 60-42 last December 9. The Mighty Oaks will follow about 3 p.m. against Campbellsville (Ky.) University-Somerset, a branch school in its first year of athletics.
OCU women, who last played November 24 when they edged Warren Wilson 85-83, will take the court with a 1-2 record to 4-3 for the Great Lakes Valley Conference team. OCU men, 103-77 victors over Appalachian Bible College a Saturday ago, own a 2-3 record.
"Indianapolis is a GLVC team and that says plenty," Lady Oaks Coach Shayne Ross said.
"They played Division I Dayton close (67-56 road loss) in an exhibition game, and last Saturday they played tough in a loss (73-68) at Lewis, another GLVC team that is ranked 24th nationally in Division II. Taylor Drury gives them a big weapon. We must play good defense and rebound."
Drury, now a 5-foot-11 sophomore, authored 13 points and 10 rebounds last December 9. Now she's averaging 15 points and 4.8 boards. Six-two junior Emma Benoit averages 14.4 points and 6 rebounds. Neither is the Lady Greyhounds' top scorer because Laura Jones, 5-8 junior transfer from Division I Northern Kentucky, is logging 16.6 points.
"They're a defensive-minded team," said Ross. Which isn't surprising since Coach Kristin Wodrich has assigned the defensive coordinator role to assistant Fahkara Malone, a four-year Evansville Memorial guard starter who led the Lady Tigers into the 3A state final in 2006, then starred at Purdue and made the All-Big Ten Defensive Team as a senior.
Campbellsville-Somerset stands winless in four regular-season games, but in exhibitions beat the Alice Lloyd JV 106-68, the University of Cumberlands JV 92-86, and the Kentucky State JV 65-12.
"I think they'll be difficult. They led for a while in an exhibition loss to Cedarville (112-89). And they played close in an exhibition loss to Bluefield State (95-83)." Mighty Oaks Coach Mike Sandifar said.
"They're freshmen and sophomores, but they have talent. Hunter Stevens (5-8 guard averaging 9.5 points) was a Kentucky All-Star last season. They also have a couple 6-7 kids and others in the 6-3 and 6-4 range. And their head coach (Al Gover) has been coaching for 30 years."
Six-seven freshman Meith Helcow is averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, 6-4 freshman Hunter Jones 9.5 points while shooting 50 percent on threes. Against Bluefield State, Tito Ransom came off the bench to score 21 vs. Bluefield State by shooting 8-for-8 from the field and 3-for-3 on free throws.
Ross said the Lady Oaks are "improving every day," but will again be without 6-1 sophomore Xerena Tompkins due to injury. "So we're still down to nine people," said Ross, who added, "Kiare Young will play." The 5-5 Princeton-bred freshman, 2018 Gibson County Female Athlete of the Year and sister of Jackie Young, will make her regular-season college debut -- she missed the first two games while with OCU's volleyball team in a National Christian College Athletic Association regional, and did not play vs. Warren Wilson.
"We won't decide who'll start Saturday until after Friday's shooting practice," said Ross, whose Lady Oaks are getting 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds from 5-10 junior Shannon Pittman. Five-nine senior Aricka Prentice is logging 12.7 points and 4.3 boards, 5-8 junior and North Posey grad Kayla Sanford 12.6 points, 6-0 freshman Julyen Condra 11.7 points and 5 boards. Six-foot sophomore Emma Lander scored 15 in last year's loss at Indy.
Sandifar said the Mighty Oaks are "still learning. We can become pretty good in January, but some of our guys are still learning the offense. I think we're physically ready with everybody healthy, but you can see in practice that we still haven't grasped everything mentally."
The Mighty Oaks continue to hub around 6-6 senior Andrew Scott and 6-5 classmate Logan Worthington. Scott is averaging 18.7 points and 7.4 rebounds; his 1,637 career points stand seventh all-time at OCU and are within 11 of sixth-place Clint Weddle. Worthington, who against Appalachian Bible scored 28 to become the 37th Mighty Oaks to reach 1,000 in a career, is logging 16.4 points and 8.4 boards. Six-seven junior and Pike Central grad Tyler Toopes adds 12.4 points and 4.4 boards. Six-seven sophomore Nathaniel Schmittler and North Posey-bred 5-11 freshman Jacob Sanford will complete the lineup.
"Kase Robinson will have to play," Sandifar said of the 6-3 sophomore and son of ex-Mighty Oaks Kris "Big Country" Robinson. "And Bryant Nalley (6-5 freshman from Pike Central) has shown he can play at this level."