Familiar faces to greet Pioneers at Heidelberg University Saturday

Marietta College is Tiffin-bound for a sort of reunion.

The Jon VanderWal-coached Pioneers are scheduled to play Andy Bucheit-led Heidelberg University in an Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball game at Seiberling Gymnasium Saturday at 3 p.m. Before that contest tips off, the Lady Pioneers will square off against the Lady Berg at 1 p.m.

“That game (men’s) is going to have a little interesting flavor, that’s for sure.” VanderWal said.

Bucheit was an assistant under VanderWal until becoming the Student Princes’ first-year cage boss this season. One of Bucheit’s assistants is former Pioneer player Joe Puch.

“We watched some film, and they’re running all of our stuff,” VanderWal said. “That’s going to be like scrimmaging ourselves.”

Marietta is No. 22-ranked in NCAA Division III with a 6-1 overall record (2-0 OAC), while Heidelberg is 3-4 (0-2).

In the Pioneers’ last game, a 98-77 triumph over Wilmington College at Ban Johnson Arena last Saturday, VanderWal rotated 14 players in and out of the line-up on the floor. Ten of them scored.

The navy blue and white made it look almost easy – but it really wasn’t.

“Wilmington’s talented,” VanderWal said. “Hey, they beat Miami of Ohio (DI) for crying out loud. They’re going to be towards the top of our league.

“They’re got a good team. It’s just our kids played really well.”

So well in fact that they nearly eclipsed 100 points for the second straight game.

On Dec. 4, MC drilled Otterbein University in an OAC opener in Westerville, 109-72.

“We could’ve scored 100 with no problem (against Wilmington),” VanderWal said, “but that’s not the point. We’re just trying to get better.

“I’m really proud of our kids. In the last two games, we’ve really kind of started to come together as a unit. We’re executing better. Our defense is better, and if we continue to play that well, we’ll be awfully dangerous this year.”

Perhaps even more amazing is Marietta has played its last two games without All-OAC honoree Tyler Hammond.

“Tyler’s fine,” VanderWal said. “He violated some school policies.”

According to MC Sports Information Director Jeff Schaly, “due to privacy laws,” those violations could not be divulged to the media.

“I want to go on record to say that Tyler Hammond is a great, great young man, who is going to have a great year for us,” VanderWal said. “He just has to take a little time off. We’re anxiously awaiting him coming back.

“It’s nice to see us play so well in the two games we’ve played without our leader, our lone senior, our captain. To see our kids go out there and perform the last two games like they have, it is very encouraging.”

Hammond will not be suited up at Heidelberg.

MC is expected to start Andy Dollman, Brennan McKean, A.J. Davis, Garrett Stephenson, and RaNeal Ewing, who scored a game-high 26 points against the Quakers.

Heidelberg will probably counter with Jackson Blue, Doug Waldmannstetter, Deonte Holder, Mike Petrie, and Keith Mackie.

After winning three of their first five non-conference games, the Student Princes have suffered two consecutive OAC setbacks to Capital and Mount Union, respectively. Both losses came in tight games

Marietta and Heidelberg could also be close.

In fact, the Pioneers and Berg might even mirror each other on the floor.