By: Olivia Wile
Despite the success of the University of Findlay’s men’s basketball team this year, fans may be upset about one thing – their lack of home games.
Out of 28 regular season games, less than half will be held in Croy Gymnasium. Although a challenge, Head Coach of the UF men’s basketball team Charlie Ernst says that his team is rising to the challenge of schedule.
“I would say on the court, we’ve handled it pretty darn well,” said Ernst. “I do think it’s been a challenge, a big challenge, off the floor. As a coach you put a lot of time and thought into how you’re going to make all that work. We talk about it months ahead of time to help prepare our guys.”
Though the men’s schedule is unfavorable, UF Head Athletic Director Brandi Laurita explains conference schedules are not up to the University.
“Conference schedules are mandated by the conference office,” said Laurita. Just like the athletic teams themselves, “Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose,” she said.
As there is a lot that goes into traveling for away competitions, Laurita says that each athletic team gets a budget in which they control.
“All expenses from travel comes from budget. Specific budgets are based on overall need,” said Laurita. “Each head coach is responsible for the allocation of budgeted funds. It does vary, but is pretty consistent based on need, conference schedule, and competitions.”
When asked about his team’s budget, Ernst explains that the program has had to cut back in other areas as a result of the traveling this season.
“We have a lot of equipment upgrades that happen every so often, and when you travel like we have this year, you end up spending most of that money on travel and you have to make sacrifices in a lot of other of other areas in your program,” said Ernst.
The Head Coach says that some of these sacrifices have included deciding not to stay in a hotel before a game they would have in years past, and taking a UF mini bus instead of a charter bus to Lake Eerie College earlier in the season. “You can decide how much you want to spend based on how many people travel, how many people per room you put, where you eat, and what type of hotels are you willing to stay in,” he said.
Senior Guard Martyce Kimbrough says that there is a noticeable difference when playing games on the road.
“The atmosphere and energy is different from Croy, having your home fans, and support,” said Kimbrough, “You have to get adjusted to the gym and the atmosphere and the other rims.”
Ernst agrees with Kimbrough as the energy in the different venues does not always match that of Croy.
“They’re normally just a little more worn down, not as excited,” said Ernst about his team. “You can see it in their eyes, and of course when we play at home we have big crowds, lots of energy, and we play in venues when that’s not necessarily the case.”
Despite the challenge of travel this year, Kimbrough says the group is rallying around each other to get the job done.
“I think we’re a very close-knit group on and off the floor,” said Kimbrough. “Going into road games, we tell each other in the locker room and in the huddle ‘we’re our biggest fans, from the first guy to the last guy on the bench, we have to keep the energy.’”
Don’t miss the men’s basketball team at home next when they take on Lake Eerie College again on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.