By BRIAN LESTER
The exhibition season ended Saturday night for the University of Findlay men’s basketball team.
The Oilers played Brigham Young out in Provo, Utah and fell 90-61 to the Cougars at the Marriott Center.
Losing is never fun but the experience the Oilers gained from playing one of the better teams in the country is going to prove beneficial in the long run.
BYU is a contender for the West Coast Conference title. It hasn’t missed on playing in the NCAA tournament since 2006 and it has one of the top players in the country in Brandon Davies, the leading scorer in the WCC a year ago.
The Oilers had no answer for Davies, who scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. They had no answer for the nine 3-pointers the Cougars made and they had no luck stopping BYU in the paint as the Cougars held a 50-24 rebounding advantage.
But the eighth-ranked Oilers are going to be fine. They have 10 days to make improvements and fine tune everything before they open the 2012-13 campaign against No. 1 West Liberty State at Croy Gymnasium.
UF has a lot of depth. Fourteen players saw action against the Cougars and 12 of the 14 scored. Greg Kahlig led the way with 11 points and Alphonso Baity pumped in eight points.
Jake Heagen scored seven points while Aaron Robinson and Sean Samsel clicked for six points apiece.
As a team, UF shot 37.3 percent from the floor but that shooting percentage will be much higher over the course of the regular season. After all, the Oilers spent a lot of time in the offseason working on shooting the ball.
The Oilers only turned the ball over 11 times, which is impressive against a Division I opponent. They also forced 11 turnovers. BYU shot 45.6 percent from the floor.
I know the early part of last season was a struggle for the Oilers, but they finished strong, winning a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament title on the road along the way, and that momentum should carry over to the start of this year.
The Oilers will have a lot of options on offense and the depth they have will allow them to play has hard as possible defensively.
Those two factors will give the Oilers a chance to compete for a conference championship and a chance to be a contender in March.
For now, the Oilers will take the lessons they learned from their experience against BYU and Dayton in the exhibition season and use them to their advantage as they get set for the journey ahead of them.
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