OU Men’s Basketball Trains To Be a Team

The Oglethorpe Men’s Basketball team recently traveled to St. Simon’s Island for training camp prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season. As senior Andrew Steioff reports, the accommodations weren’t glamorous (an old church camp ground), but the group had the chance to become a team during practice and through volunteering.

Training Camp for 2011-2012 was riddled with surprises from the get- go, many of which were never expected from my teammates and me. The first [surprise] was the actual destination where training camp would be held. Guesses ranged from Macon to Ft. Lauderdale to a prestigious college campus to various military bases, all of which were far from the actual destination—which we all tried relentlessly to squeeze out of Coach Tulowitzky.

Then the real surprise came: Coach Ponder informed us that we had five minutes to send out our last text messages and calls because all of our cell phones were going to be collected for the duration of the trip. Needless to say, the whole team instantly went into a state of shock and panic. The whole drive to our mystery destination (which took approximately 6 hours of sheer agony) was full of guesses and memorable moments. Eventually we arrived at our destination on St. Simon’s Island. When we walked into our cabin, we realized our nightmare of boot camp was going to come true as far as living conditions were concerned: icy cold tile floors, steel framed bunk beds, and cots that seemed to be filled with used cotton balls. It was safe to say the mood was anything but joyous.

That night all the players met privately to discuss our team goals and what we expected from our season and what needed to be done on our end to make sure we reached these goals this season. The next morning brought us to the first practice of the year. We were all anxious to finally get on the court after a long off season of conditioning and shooting. It was nice to see the new guys getting after it as much as the returning players.

After practice we hosted a basketball clinic at a local Boys and Girls Club. We set it as an objective every year to give back to the community. Each player volunteers at the boys and girls club of Brookhaven for at least 10 hours every preseason. We participate in various activities with the children at the Brookhaven Club from helping the kids with homework, to shooting pool, to playing on the playground. It always feels nice to give back to your community especially when they are some of our rowdiest fans.

We finished the day with our second practice which consisted of more shooting and incorporation of our offense. The next morning we woke up sore and exhausted. It was nice to see what our team was made of in the early stages of the season. On our way out of town we stopped by historic Fort Frederica where James Edward Oglethorpe defended the colony of Georgia against the Spanish, and fought the Battle of Bloody Marsh. It was neat to walk on the same ground as one of the first towns ever to be constructed in Georgia. Overall, the trip was a great way to integrate our team mixed with newcomers and veterans. We made some great memories as a team and established a new attitude to start our quest towards a 2012 SCAC Championship.

Top photo: The OU Men’s Basketball Team is pictured at historic Fort Frederica where James Edward Oglethorpe defended the colony of Georgia against the Spanish and fought the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Each year the Battle is commemorated on the Oglethorpe campus in the form of a tug-of-war contest on the quad between the students and the faculty and staff. Bottom photo: Last year’s team volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club.

Nation’s Top Basketball Recruits, Coaches Come to Pinholster Court

Rival Basketball's top-ranked recruit, Shabazz Muhammad

Oglethorpe hosted some of the nation’s most elite high school basketball talents this past Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as the Amateur Athletic Union played top flight summer league games on Pinholster Court with many of the top college hoops coaches in the country looking on.

Among the elite talents on display was Rival Basketball’s top ranked class of 2012 recruitShabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas, Nevada. Muhammad, a 6’6″ small forward with a dizzying array of talents, is being courted by college basketball’s top programs like Duke, Kentucky and Kansas, to name a few. Other top players in attendance were Rival’s #30 ranked player, Tony Parker, and #78 prospect, Demetrius Henry. Parker, a local product from Lithonia, is considering such stalwarts as Connecticut, Florida, and Ohio State for his college destination. Henry, a gifted 6’8″ power forward from Florida, is deciding between the likes of Georgia Tech, Texas, and Florida State.

Adding allure to the high-powered hoops games on Pinholster Court were the bevy of highly regarded coaches in attendance. Among those silently recruiting their future stars were Thad Matta (Ohio State), John Calipari (Kentucky), Rick Pitino (Louisville), Billy Donnovan (Florida), Drew Gregory (Georgia Tech), and Mark Fox (Georgia).

Calipari, whose influence on the college game is demonstrated by his 1.1 million+ Twitter followers, took to the social media platform to query about the origins of Oglethorpe’s famed mascot, tweeting, “Does anyone know what the mascot is for Oglethorpe University and the story behind it?” Naturally, he received more than one accurate response. To view the feed stirred by Calipari’s tweet, go here.

Part 3: OU Men’s Basketball Rounds Out Costa Rica Trip

OU rising senior Andrew Steioff finishes his three-part blog  about the Oglethorpe Men’s Basketball team’s trip to Costa Rica. [Read Part 1, Part 2]

“It is currently 5:30 in the morning and we are waiting at our terminal to head back home to Atlanta. After a week full of non-stop sightseeing and traveling, it seems we are all sleepwalking through the airport and even the wonderful coffee of the country can’t help wake us up. The last few days have been filled with a couple days at the beach, zip lining, and a game against the Costa Rican national team.

The beach resort we stayed in was one of the most serene and relaxing scenes we could have hoped for, with the rainforest stretching all the way up to palm trees and the stunning beach. The surrounding landscape was mountainous so it felt as though we were enclosed in our own beach paradise separated from the rest of the world. While swimming in the pool the first afternoon we experienced a tremble and most of us really thought nothing of it, moments later we were ordered to evacuate the pool because just 40 miles away a 6.0 earthquake had taken place. Living in California in my young life, I had experienced earthquakes before but it was a first time experience for most of my teammates to add to the list of firsts already accumulated during the trip.

The next morning we embarked on our zip lining expedition through the rainforest canopy. We glided through the trees on 14 different zip lines traveling at speeds of 35 mph on some. The most uneasy part of the whole experience though was standing on wooden platforms built around trees suspended hundreds and even thousands of feet above the ground. After the zip lining we had the rest of the day off at the beach to relax and enjoy our last days of Costa Rica and its beautiful scenery.

The last day we had our final friendly game against the Costa Rican national team, only it wasn’t as friendly as advertised. Continue reading

Part 2: OU Men’s Basketball Scores in Costa Rica with Competition, Volunteering

Oglethorpe rising senior Andrew Steioff checked back in to share more about the Oglethorpe Men’s Basketball team’s travels in Costa Rica.

“Halfway through our excursion through Costa Rica has our team feeling cultured and a bit tired. The past couple days have been filled with a game against the five-time defending champs of the top professional league in Costa Rica, a community outreach activity, sightseeing at an active volcano, a relaxing night indulging in natural hot springs, and a whitewater rafting trip.

Our game against Barva was highly anticipated by my teammates and me—we wanted to see how we stacked up against top flight international competition. We would not be disappointed as the Barva team was one of the biggest and most athletic teams I have personally ever played against on the collegiate level. Undersized and considerably younger (most of Barva’s players were around 28 or 29 years old), we struggled to compete early as Barva jumped out to an early double digit lead. Our team once again showed tremendous heart and defensive effort as we clawed back to take the lead halfway through the third quarter, only to eventually fall to the Barva squad. Barva’s best player, a wing from Panama, was one of the most athletic and best physical specimens I have ever shared the hardwood with. Once again, Alec Pitts was named the MVP followed closely by Sam Purdy who was once again lights out from 3-point range. Two other players rounded out the night with double figures: freshman Tyler Courson and me.

The next morning we embarked on a community outreach activity at a local children’s center in San Jose. We came bearing gifts of candy, coloring books, clothes, and of course some stuffed “Peteys” to share with the children. Unanimously, the most rewarding part of the trip thus far was when we spent a few hours with the kids playing on the playground. Their most favorite activity was being carried on our shoulders through the playground. Not to be outdone, Coach Ponder had a record crowd as he shared with the children some of his famed magic tricks. When the time to depart came it was hard to tell who was more upset we were leaving: the children or the players. Continue reading