Braves reload for another championship run
The Ottawa University men’s basketball team can’t wait to get back on the floor.
The squad is coming off a school-record 28-win season and a win in the NAIA Division II National Tournament before the plug was pulled because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Braves have unfinished business after their national tourney run was cut short.
“Our guys are not complacent winning one ring,” Ottawa sixth-year coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “They want to try and go get another.”
The roster is filled with talented and experienced players. Ottawa returns five players — three of which were starters — from last season’s squad. The coaching staff added key transfers and a top freshmen class to make another run.
“We feel like we have a good group coming back as well as some good newcomers to add to that,” Siebenthall said. “We have five returners that played a lot. We played a lot of different guys in every game. Each one of those guys led us in scoring (in a game) at some point.
“We can compete for another title. We are not going to be as deep in the post spot. We have a good group of freshmen (posts). If one of those can emerge, I like our chances.”
The Braves, ranked No. 14 in the preseason NAIA coaches poll, were selected second in the KCAC preseason polls.
Ottawa expects to be deep with at least nine or 10 guys in the rotation.
Here are the top players expected to make an impact this season:
Jackson Mallory, sr., guard: Jackson is a four-year player and three-year starter.
“He is one of our glue guys,” Siebenthall said. “He gets the ball to the right guys.”
Joe Johnson III, sr., guard: Johnson provided the Braves with a spark off the bench last season with his defense and intensity.
“He’s had an incredible summer,” Siebenthall said. “We expect big things out of Joe.”
Andre Jackson, sr., guard/forward: Jackson came into his own the final 10-12 games of last season. Siebenthall said Jackson is a versatile player that can do many things for the Braves.
Jaquan Daniels, sr., forward: Daniels is force all over the court. He is Ottawa’s top defensive player. He was a member of the KCAC all-defensive team and a second team all-conference selection. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last year.
Mason McDow, sr., post: McDow will be counted on to play more minutes and contribute in a big way. He is a big man with a good touch from the outside and has a strong post game. Siebenthall likes his passing skills as he ranked in the top 10 in assists in the KCAC last season.
Perry Carroll, sr., guard: Carroll is a transfer from Fort Hays
State where he played in 28 games and averaged nearly six points a game. Carroll is a former all-state product from Ottawa High School.
“We brought in a handful of transfers that we think will help us,” Siebenthall said. “Perry Carroll leads that group. He can score in bunches. He can create for others. We think he is a great replacement for Darryl Bowie. He is not going to score as much as Darryl. When we need a bucket, we know we can count on him to get one.”
Ian Moore, jr., guard: Moore is sharpshooter the Braves coveted after losing Ryan Haskins to graduation. He averaged 14.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game for Northern Arkansas Community College.
“He can really shoot it,” Siebenthall said. “He made 10 more threes than Haskins did last year. We like his ability to shoot and score the ball.”
John Long, soph., guard: Long is a transfer from Pratt Community College. He was a part-time starter for the Beavers. He is a former all-state performer for Santa Fe Trail.
Ty Bland, jr., guard/forward: He is a transfer from Illinois Valley Community College where he averaged 15 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 assist per game.
Braxton Bouyer, jr., guard: He is a transfer from Colorado Northwestern Community College: Last season, Bouyer played in 29 games and averaged 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Jackson Pope, fr., post: Pope, 6-9, will be counted on to provide depth in the post.
“We have five freshmen practicing with our varsity and have a chance to play, which is rare for us,” Siebenthall said. “We are really high on our freshmen group. Jackson Pope leads that group. He is really skilled. He can move well for a guy that size.”
The Braves open the season 6 p.m. Monday against Barclay College at Wilson Field House. Ottawa plays 8 p.m. Thursday at home against rival Baker.