Expectations for the second season of the Steve Ernst era have drastically changed for the Olivet College mens basketball team. A completely overhauled roster and influx of high-level talent will do that.
Ernst, who dropped the interim tag and was named head coach in December of last year, said this year’s team has the chance to do something special.
“We’re playing to win the league and to host the league tournament,” Ernst said. “I will be disappointed if we do anything less.”
The goals are lofty considering the Comets have not won an MIAA title since 1973 and haven’t finished better than third in the conference since 1988.
This year’s team, however, is different according to its coach.
By the time the final roster is set, there may only be three players from last year’s team left in the entire program. Ernst has brought in high-level transfers that will account for the bulk of this year’s roster.
“We have a lot of guys that can really run,” Ernst said. “We have seven guys over 6’5” that have good speed for their size.”
Speed and athleticism are key for Ernst’s full-court pressure and fast-paced offense. Ernst said style of play was key in landing a number of this year’s recruits.
“We’re looking to put up 75-80 shots a game,” Ernst said. “It’s a fun style to play and a fun style to watch. We play at a tempo that not many others are willing to play at.”
Ernst is hoping the style of play and level of talent is a draw for the local community. He said he is really stressing that the Olivet College mens basketball team is Eaton County’s team. He has reached out to what he calls the Tri-Cities — Olivet, Charlotte, and Bellevue — to get the youth programs involved. Youth teams from each community participated in games during halftime of Olivet College home games, something that will take place again this season.
“It’s fun for the fans and the kids,” Ernst said. “They’ll get a glimpse at some really good basketball this season. Eaton County fans know good basketball when they see it.”
Fans will get their first look at the dynamic roster on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 10 p.m. during the Comet Chaos event at the Cutler Event Center. The team will be introduced and take part in a dunk contest and dance competition. The event is free and open to the public.
The Comets’ first home game is Saturday, Nov. 18 against Defiance. They will travel to Grand Valley State University on Nov. 14 and Saginaw Valley Stat on Nov. 15 for two exhibition games. The non-conference schedule includes a trip to Ferris State University on Nov. 21 and Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne on Dec. 28.
For more information about Olivet College mens basketball, visit olivetcomets.com.