Braves ’itching’ to play anybody after month off

Greg Mast
Ottawa University senior guard Joe Johnson III applies defensive pressure against Baker on Oct. 29, which was the last game the Braves played.

The Ottawa University men’s basketball team wants to play. The Braves were grounded through the month of November.

Ottawa played two games in late October, topping Baker on Oct. 29. The Braves’ latest postponements were this past Saturday’s game against Bethany and a contest against Avila that had been scheduled for this Wednesday.

The coaching staff even made overtures to Notre Dame, which also has an open date on Wednesday, on Twitter to come play the Braves in Ottawa.

“They are itching to play anybody,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “It does not matter. They will play anybody, anytime, anywhere. If we keep that attitude going forward, good things are ahead of us.”

Early in November, the coronavirus hit the Ottawa squad. Now, the virus is going through the KCAC men’s teams.

“We went through it earlier than a lot of teams in our league, now a lot of teams in our league is going through what we went through,” Siebenthall said. “It is hard for us. We are ready to play. Now, we can’t get a game.”

Siebenthall is seeking an opponent for Wednesday and sent out emails and phone calls attempting to find somebody to play this past Saturday.

“We got the call our game was postponed Friday at practice,” Siebenthall said. “We kind of scrambled. I left practice to send out emails and make phone calls to get somebody to play us. With the short time and the Thanksgiving break, it was going to tough to find anybody.”

Ottawa’s next scheduled game is Saturday in North Newton against Bethel.

“(Saturday) was supposed to be the start of eight games in 20 days,” Siebenthall said. “We are looking forward to playing.”

Now that number is down to five games as the Dec. 17 rescheduled game against Tabor was postponed.

The Braves played an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday complete with game uniforms and officials.

“We needed to do something that is game like,” Siebenthall said. “We have not played a game since Oct. 29. We have to try and get something out of (the scrimmage). We have to take advantage of it.”

Siebenthall wanted the starters to play with more continuity and the reserves to show the coaches they are ready when called upon.

“Our guys attitudes, resiliency and flexibility have been really remarkable,” Siebenthall said. “They understand we will do everything in our power to play these games at some point. I can’t say enough about our guys and they way they have handled this. It is not ideal and it has not been a lot of fun. Not the experience we want for our guys.”

Ottawa (2-0) moved up a spot to No. 13 in the NAIA rankings, released before Thanksgiving.