By Chris Chaney
Bill Parcells said that “you are what your record says you are.” However, that quote goes along with an understanding that you’re competing on a level playing field.
For the UC-Clermont College Cougars basketball team, that hasn’t been the case in the 2012-13 season, playing a schedule that boasts some of the top teams in the NCAA Division II, III and NAIA Division I, while the Cougars, a nonathletic scholarship independent USCAA school, is forced to play above their competition level.
“For the first time, we’re an independent, we’re in no league,” Cougars head coach John Hurley said. “So we have had to schedule a very difficult schedule. (We’re playing) a lot of NCAA Division IIs and NAIA Division Is, so it’s made it very, very difficult.”
The Cougars are 6-18 on the season.
“The league broke up that we were in,” Hurley said. “It was the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference.”
Without a conference and unsure of any leagues that they might have to join, the Cougars were forced to ramp up their schedule for the 2012-13 season. As a result of the uncertainty, the Cougars needed to be sure to cover all of their bases depending upon where they would land as far as conference realignment was concerned.
Ramping up their schedule meant putting some big time players on their schedule, many of which offered scholarships, the main reason, according to Hurley, that the Cougars have been outmatched this season.
“Well, it’s pretty simple: non-scholarship versus scholarship is major factor,” the coach explained. “We played Bellarmine University (97-50 loss) who won the National Championship in (NCAA) Division II two years ago. We’ve played Pikeville (117-77 loss) who won the NAIA Division I National Championship a year or so ago. We’ve played the University of Indianapolis (98-59 loss) who was in the Division II National Tournament last year and we played Southern Indiana (118-67 loss) who is a perennial team in the (NCAA) Division II National Tournament. We’ve played Wittenberg University (89-47 loss) who is a Division III power.
“So it’s that kind of schedule that we have.”
Despite the brutal schedule, Hurley does have some bright spots on his squad, specifically freshman guard Kendall Beamon.
“(Beamon) is our leading scorer,” Hurley said. “He’s from Withrow High School. He has been a very consistent scorer, even against the tougher opponents that we’ve been playing. He seems to be able to get his points no matter who we are playing. He’s had some outstanding games against some of the really good teams on our schedule.”
Hurley also said Beamon’s backcourt mate, Darwin Tolliver has been a consistent presence handling the ball.
“(Tolliver) has been a good leader. He’s handled our point guard position against our competition and done a really good job for us,” the coach said.
The Cougars have nine games remaining on their schedule before they call it quits on the 2012-13 campaign. Hurley doesn’t believe this team will get a nod for the USCAA National Tournament by virtue of their amount of losses, but wants to try and win as many of the nine remaining games as possible.
As for the future, Hurley is uncertain what it holds for UC-Clermont.
“We will probably start trying to schedule for next year pretty soon,” Hurley said. “But I just can’t see us going through another year like this and playing the type of schedule that we’re playing. In saying that, I really don’t know who we are going to play. Without being in a league that we can compete in, we really have a difficult time in trying to get games and get games that we can be competitive in. It’s been very difficult and I’m assuming it’s going to continue to be very difficult.”
Hurley would go on to say that the Cougars are going to have to weigh their options and may end up joining the NAIA, which they have been offered to play in next year.
If that were to become the case, the Cougars would be able to knock some of the NCAA teams off their schedule, but that is a decision that still needs to be made.