John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza – Tournament Preview

The Ohio Bobcats are poised to resume their breakout, currently undefeated season by hosting a round robin style tournament on Saturday, February 8th, 2020. This tournament will feature 8 teams, 6 coming from the state of Ohio (Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Miami, Ohio, and Ohio State), West Virginia, and a combination of Ohio & Miami B-Team players. Similar to the Michigan Region hosting a pre-Michigan Dodgeball Cup tournament two weeks prior to the actual event, you could very well consider this a pre-Ohio Dodgeball Cup – only with WVU replacing Kent State. 

Also similar to the pre-MDC tournament, the John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza (JBBB) will be chock-full of incredible storylines to pay attention to. For instance, some match-ups will feature teams who will be facing off against one another for the very first time in league history! 

As we prepare for the JBBB, we took the time to reach out to each team so that they could share for themselves their expectations for their respective teams this weekend, a handful of players they wanted to shine the spotlight on, and what they believe their keys to success will be. Finally, to wrap up we will have game by game predictions from six of our league’s most involved alumni.

University of Akron via Jacob Weber

Team Expectations:

I expect us to have a strong performance at OU due to Akron having more weeks of practice at the start of the semester whereas other schools have just started back up this past week. I see this as a real possibility to have our first 3-0 weekend of the season as well. 

Player Spotlight:

The first player I would like to highlight is PJ Antalek. He is one of our rookies who has worked his way into the OT 6. He does a good job running people down with his athleticism and has already developed a strong throw. 

The second player I’d like to mention is Matt Owen, who is also another rookie. Matt has started off with one of the hardest throws on the team and has developed the ability to catch the ball consistently as well. He also has worked his way into the OT 6 as a rookie as well and he will be key to the weekend. 

The final player for our team spotlight is Clay Egleston, who is one of our assistant captains. He is a strong catcher and if he continues to catch the ball the way he has been this season he will be a very hard out and will be able to keep our team in some points if they start going south. 

Keys to Success:

Our biggest keys to success is to be able to prevent wall ball from happening so that we can keep control of games, as well as being able to make timely catches. If we are able to keep being a catching team, we will be able to wear down other teams and still win points without ball control.

Bowling Green State University via Owen Sill/Cole Wilson

Team Expectations:

When heading into a tournament BG always has the intention of going 3-0. No matter who we are playing, BG will give it our all. That being said, BG never goes in expecting to win without a fight. With having only 2 practices before this tournament, BG will have some communication mishaps but we will hopefully get it under control. If we focus on our catching abilities and controlled throws, there will be a high chance to play at a top tier level this tournament as well as the rest of the semester. 

Starting with Akron this tournament will be an interesting match. We have yet to play them and don’t quite know what to expect. However, this doesn’t mean that we are going into the match blind. We know they have some very talented players on Akron’s side, and they have done their research and have likely come up with several game plans. This will not be an easy game and we will have to fight till the very end if we want to win.

Going into Miami, this is primetime for the Falcons. After coming off a loss against them in overtime, we want to redeem ourselves. Miami is a top competitor for the national title and has several All-Americans on their team, plus the addition of the old BG president Reid Manger. With Reid knowing the players personally and many of the drills BG practices, playing against Miami is always an uphill battle. If we focus less on Reid and more on their captain Tom Morand, then we will have a better chance.

For the last match of the day we are playing Ohio’s B-Team. In a similar boat as Akron, we don’t know what to expect when going into this match. We will be pretty tired after our first 2 games, which means we will have to play refined and smart in our last match of the day. All in all, it will be a fun day & we’ll see how we are able to hold up.

Player Spotlight:

Jack Anderson is our first player to spotlight for BG. Jack is known for his catching ability and his aggressive counters; Jack is always a threat when on the court. He doesn’t fear anyone and will go after anyone no matter their skill level. Even though Jack has someone in his sights, he always knows if he should pull the trigger or not. This is a skill that most players do not have and the reason teams often lose ball control.

Our second player is Brandon Feltner, another junior. Brandon has some of the best hands on the team, but don’t let that stop you from thinking he can’t throw. Brandon is also known for his strong southpaw throw. If you have played against him, you will know that his ball comes out of nowhere and often leaves people blindsided.

Gabe Carrington is our third and final spotlight player. Even though Gabe is the youngest on the list, it doesn’t mean his skills are anything less than great. He has quickly shown his skills as a player from freshman year to sophomore year. He has a great arm and always looks for the catch. Often commanding the side he is on, Gabe is and will be a major presence on the court for BG for years to come.

Keys to Success:

The key to BG’s success this weekend will be on how well the captains communicate with the team and how well the team responds. For the majority of the years in the league, we have been looked down upon. However, in the past 5 years or so, the club has made strides in the league and we’ve become a top competitor. We have also produced several top tier players, meaning that anywhere you look on our side of the court, you’ll see talented players. If we want to remain a threat, we will need to focus on catching and being smart on the court, something Tyler Broyles focused heavily on implementing when he played. 

University of Cincinnati via Brett Liming

Team Expectations:

This weekend we play West Virginia, Akron, and Ohio University. We feel we have a good shot at going 2-1 on the day with a loss to Ohio University. 

The match vs. West Virginia will be fun because we have never played them and from what I have seen, they like to play fast and like to pump fake a lot when they have ball control. I feel we will come out on top with a decently close match 4-2 or 4-3 in regulation.

This will be our third time playing Akron. Since playing them in our first two tournaments of the season, I feel like UC has developed exponentially. After acquiring stronger arms and developing our game plan more we will be better prepared for this match up. This match will be one to watch as I feel it will be close going 4-3 one way or the other.

Then our last match we are playing OU… We all know that UC’s 3rd match of the day has always been our worst and we are going into our third match playing our hardest match up by far. My hope is that we don’t get steamrolled. If we can score a point or two off OU I will be content. Hopefully taking what we learn and putting it into action for ODC.

Player Spotlight:

Ian Bartholomew is the first player UC would like to shine the spotlight on. Ian was only able to make 2 of the 4 tournaments in the first semester, but has quickly grown to love the sport. As he picked up the game, his dodgeball IQ and his all-around skill has progressed dramatically. He has become one of the strongest arms on the team and a dominant catcher.

From where Kevin Sherman first started, he has become one of the most fearless players on the court. He is willing to get any ball that comes near our side of the court. He is extremely smart and knows when he is needed. His arm has developed tremendously and can be trusted to be in clutch time decisions to help us get done what is needed.

Lastly, we’d like to take the opportunity to talk about our January recruiting class. After Christmas break ended, UC didn’t stop trying to get new players on the team. During this small window, we were able to acquire and begin developing a litany of new players who will soon become strong, versatile, and important members of the team. Look out for them!

Keys to Success:

Our keys to our success this weekend is to make sure we stick to our game plan. We have been working on our strategy and if we stick to it, we will be able to achieve what we came to do. Another big thing we need to do is catch. In general, during the first half of the season we have not been catching. If we can just get one or two catches per point, we will be able to find success.

Miami University via Tom Morand 

Team Expectations:

This weekend we face off against Ohio University, Bowling Green State University, and Ohio State University. My expectations for the team is to go 3-0 on the day by taking down the red hot, undefeated bobcats along with the buckeyes and falcons.

Our first match of the day is against the host of the John Betters Bobcat Bonanza in the first queue of matches. I believe Ohio is one of the deepest teams in the league, and they play with a complete team mentality. If we can reduce Ohio’s backline catching while limiting Zach Howman, Josh Warnecke, and Jake Larsen we will come out on top. I think this game will likely be back and forth and ultimately the match will be within one point.

The second game of the day is against the falcons that we have beaten twice in the fall, both by one point apiece. These games are always a great time because of Reid Manger’s previous history with Bowling Green. The key will be to aim small and miss small against BGSU because they are one of the most consistent catching teams in the NCDA.

Our last game of the day is against Ohio State. Dylan Greer has historically adapted his team dramatically during the middle of matches and the Buckeyes always seem to have competitive points with us. Apparently this is one the most anticipated games of the spring, so hopefully we can give the fans a show.

Player Spotlight:

Thomas McCants is in his rookie season on our roster, and has already made some noise in the NCDA. He started in our OT 6 against Grand Valley State at Ohio’s No Fear tournament in November. He has impressed our entire team with how fast he has improved his dodgeball IQ. In the age of highlighting power throwers, the fundamentals of the game seemingly get overlooked, but he has made it his priority to learn what to do in every situation.

Drew Maxwell is a senior and is the definition of an underrated player that has been a staple on this team since its origins. His throw is filthy and I would not be surprised if many opposing players have been hit by him and be completely oblivious to who threw it.

Dominic Tyburski is a stud. He is our signature lefty, he plays right corner and cannot be stopped once he has two balls in his hands. If anyone is unfamiliar with who Dom is when you are standing across the court from Miami, just look for the guy with the smile on his face like he is a kid in a candy store.

Keys to Success:

One of the biggest keys to potentially going 3-0 this upcoming weekend is effective transition play. We need to ensure we are winning our individual battles in the neutral zone while conserving our energy for when opportunities that present themselves. We also need to ensure we are blocking and countering opposing teams to keep our opponents honest and hesitant when approaching our throw line. 

Ohio University via Noah Ourant

Team Expectations:

At this point in the year, our expectations have got to be going undefeated at each tournament. I think scores can be so tricky to predict so I’m going to stay away from that but I will guess that our game vs Miami will have a lot of points. Other than that I expect us to see some new faces continue to emerge as we continue to build more depth. 

Player Spotlight:

The first player OU would like to shine the spotlight on is Josh Warnecke. Josh is someone that I still don’t think gets nearly enough attention for what he does on the court. Most of the attention for our team goes to players like Zach Howman and Jake Larsen, but Josh was actually voted our team MVP for last season. With great instincts and all around abilities, look out for #32 everytime he is on the court.

With the tournament named after him, it would feel wrong not to shout out John Betters. A third year contributor, he is one of our best players that no one has heard of. Betters plays a key role on our team as a consistent catcher, a key blocker keeping teammates safe, and a crafty thrower. 

Dusty Moell will be our third player for our player spotlight. A second year captain on our team, Dusty Moell (pronounced like mail) is one of the fastest players in the league. Dusty plays the game faster than most people I have witnessed and has incredible athleticism. As he begins his final semester in the NCDA, look for him to make a push for All-Ohio lists and beyond.

Keys to Success:

Our main key to success is always just playing as a team. Staying in our roles and letting our offense take place without anyone trying to do too much. Our biggest strength is our depth and as long as we all work together we’re a tough team to beat.

Ohio State University via Dylan Greer

Team Expectations:

As we walk in to what is surely our toughest schedule of the year, we’re forced to compete at the best of our ability. Playing and beating state-of-Ohio power houses OU and Miami will be what we need to do to win the ODC in the upcoming weeks. Preparing for these tough match-ups now is important for the near future. While these wins are lofty goals, we expect to give both teams a run for their money and show that OSU is still on the rise that we have been on all year. We’re excited to start out the day against WVU, as it’s been a while since we’ve played this team. Coming out strong and getting a win here will allow us to carry our confidence with us throughout the day.

Player Spotlight:

If you don’t know Ryan Ginsberg’s name, it’s about time that you do. He’s surely a rookie of the year candidate for all of the right reasons. Not often do you see a player come into the league with such a high dodgeball IQ, but Ryan has proven that it’s possible. You’ll spot him when you see his side arm throw or when he’s laid out on the court with your ball stuck in his chest.

OSU has always been a catching team, and Ben Dardia is the latest player to carry on this reputation. Never have I seen a player make as many jaw dropping catches as he has this year. Ben is easily one of the key reasons for our success.

Fresh out of the gate: Trevor Clark makes his first tournament appearance of the year. A key thrower on the team and a presence we have missed all year long. Having him back on the court will release a large burden off our current throwers and will present a great threat we’ve been missing for far too long.

Keys to Success:

There’s not one strategy that stands out as the most important to our team, and even if there were, it wouldn’t be publicized. Tying together everything we do at practice and adapting to our opponent each game is necessary in every match we play. As long as we play up to our expectations, we will leave the day with our heads held high.

West Virginia University via
Cory Nasiadka

Team Expectations:

We have a lot of expectations coming into this tournament. We had a poor outing at our last tournament and we’ve been working our tails off thinking about that ever since. After a long winter break, we’re all ready to get back on the court. 

Player Spotlight:

Garret Basham has been with us for 3 years now. He has really started to take a leadership position this year. I won’t be surprised to see him leading the team most of the tournament. Along with his leadership he also is a great athlete and poses a threat with his arm and speed.

In my opinion, Andrew Ziegler is one of the top three best overall athletes in this league. I’m really not sure how everyone in the league has managed to completely ignore him. He’s an All-American caliber player and everyone will realize that soon enough. 

Noah Leidig got a late start with us this year and has only played in two tournaments. He has one of the best arms on the team and has been improving dramatically in practice. We’re ready for him to put on a big showing this Saturday. 

Keys to Success:

Our biggest key to success is really just to keep our heads up. Sometimes if we lose a point or lose a match, our guys will get really down on themselves and start to give up. It’s really important for them to realize that we’re not always going to be dominating every match we play in this league, and that we need to learn from our mistakes instead of giving up because of them. 

Another key to success is to slow down. With so many young guys, in fast situations sometimes we lack the control to slow things down, and not play within our gameplan.

Content Team Match-up Predictions:

We’re destined for a weekend chock-full of college dodgeball, so make sure to tune in to the various live-streaming options we will have available for not only the John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza, but also the Michigan Dodgeball Cup! Check out the live broadcasts on Facebook and YouTube.

For now, check out predictions of each match-up for the John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza from a handful of esteemed NCDA alumni and content team members.

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