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Ohio State club basketball teams looking to defend home court at NIRSA championships

The Ohio State men’s basketball team scrimmages at J.O. South in preparation for the NIRSA Championships this weekend. Credit: Fallon Perl | Lantern reporter

The Ohio State men’s and women’s club basketball teams, the Ballstars, are set to compete Friday through Sunday in the 2017 National Intramural Recreational Sports Association National Basketball Championships, which are being held at the RPAC for the second consecutive year.

The men’s team earned the title of Men’s Club National Champions at the tournament last year. Bryce Spees, men’s club team president and fourth-year in logistics management, said they are hoping to uphold their status as defending champions. The women’s team lost last year to Wisconsin in the final four after beating the team in the regular season.

The men’s team has been focusing on different areas, both offensively and defensively, that will lead them closer to their goal of maintaining their status as champions, Spees said.

“We’ve been working on playing as a team and always playing with intensity because we’ve struggled to do that a little bit,” Spees said. “We’re just making sure we’re engaged all of the time, but I feel like the past couple of weeks we’ve been doing a really good job of that.”

With an abundance of talent on the offensive side of the ball, Spees said he believes that efficient shooting shouldn’t be the team’s main concern.

“Ryan Murray and Marquis Gaines played extremely well in our tournament a couple of weeks ago, and they were both on the All-Tournament team for this tournament last year, so we’re definitely hoping for a strong performance out of those guys again,” Spees said.

On defense, however, communication and rebounding are points of emphasis..

“As long as we take care of the things that we can control, like, taking care of the ball, taking good shots and playing good defense, we’ll be happy,” Spees said. “The main goal is to win the whole thing. We did it last year, and we know we have the guys to do it again this year.”

The women’s team, on the other hand, owns a record of 26-1 this year, its only loss being the first game of the season. The team is looking forward to competing and possibly being able to have a rematch with Wisconsin.

“We knew we could beat them, but it was just a different time and a different game,” said women’s club team president and fourth-year in exercise science education Megan McKean.

In order to better prepare for the tough competition it will face this weekend, the women’s team had the opportunity to scrimmage the OSU women’s varsity basketball team during a training session Tuesday.

“It’s just great competition,” McKean said. “We’re trying to get better people in here because we’re not beating up on each other enough. We’re also making it very adamant that people attend practice because just having good attendance here allows us to have more effective drills and better practices.”

At the tournament, games will be played constantly from Friday through Sunday, which can make it feel like the club team’s equivalent to March Madness, said Sandra Dickos, fourth-year in marketing.

“You’re playing a lot of games in a short amount of time, so sometimes your legs aren’t there, especially for the last games,” Dickos said. “People get hurt, people get in foul trouble because they get tired, so it’s like an entirely different dynamic as you go further down the bracket.”

Though the back-to-back games can be taxing, the women’s team hopes it has learned from its Final Four knockout last year.

“We have a threat for every position, and our bench is really, really good,” McKean said. “They could be our starting five, which is why I believe we have a lot of depth and ability, and a lot of skill. Hopefully we can win it all, because the goal is always to be able to put our year on the banner.”

The NIRSA Basketball Championships begin Friday at the RPAC at 4 p.m.

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