Reshuffling of basketball games continue for OU teams

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa University basketball teams never imagined all the reshuffling of games and practices during the pandemic.

The Ottawa coaches knew this would be a season like no other. OU men’s coach Aaron Siebenthall said before the season the team that can best withstand all the distractions would be the conference champion.

Ottawa University senior forward Jaquan Daniels has scored 30-plus points three times this season, including a 33-point effort against Oklahoma Wesleyan.

“The biggest thing is whichever team can be mentally tough this year will be the team that can come through this [the best],” he said. “There is going to be postponements and all kinds of changes. You have to be worried about yourself and not necessarily who the next opponent is going to be because it might not be your next opponent. You might get two games postponed and you are onto your third team. That is something we are preaching to our guys.”

There has not been any fluidity to the season. The teams have had more postponements and cancelations than games played.

The Braves opened the season in late October with two wins and would not play again until December — a 33-day break. Ottawa came out of the break slow but finished off the pre-holiday schedule with its best game in a rout of Oklahoma Wesleyan.

The postponements and cancelations reared their ugly heads again. Ottawa’s game against Bethany on Dec. 19 was postponed and the first three games in 2021 were canceled because of the virus.

Ottawa’s next scheduled game is 7 p.m. Saturday at home against Saint Mary. If played, It will be Ottawa’s first game in 23 days. It has been even worse for the Saint Mary men’s team, which played just one game before the holidays.

The OU women saw their 2021 opener on Wednesday canceled. Ottawa added a game at 5 p.m. Tuesday against Bethel in North Newton.

The Braves, 5-4 overall, lost three straight games coming off the 33-day layoff. Ottawa won two of its next three games to end the 2020 portion of the schedule.

The 99-83 win over Oklahoma Wesleyan was the Braves’ most complete game of the season.

“That was Braves basketball,” Siebenthall said. “That is how we play. That is how good we can be. A lot of hurdles were thrown our way. Unique things and things that are hard to deal with. Our guys have overcome a lot.”

The Ottawa defense, which was out of sorts for most of the season, gave Oklahoma Wesleyan fits.

“When we are organized and doing things we have worked on, we usually get good results,” Siebenthall said. “If we keep sticking to team things, things will be good for us.

“That is a talented basketball team [we beat]. Our effort has been there most of the year. We have not been on the same page. We have had stretches where we have played well on both ends. We have not put a 40-minute game together. This is a lot closer. Scoring has not been our problem. Defensively, we have not been very good. We were really good defensively for a long period of time.”