Capital men’s basketball began play in 1907 with head coach Dick Burman leading the Crusaders to a 4-4 record, the start of a program now more than a century old.
In 111 years of the Bexley, Ohio, Division III program, 31 players reached the 1,000-point mark. In the 112th season, that number climbed to 33.
Senior guards Austin Schreck and Joey Weingartner joined the club within six weeks of each other, with Schreck making the milestone Dec. 8 in a 24-point showing against Ohio Northern and Weingartner setting his record Jan. 16 in a 12-point effort at Heidelberg.
It’s a treat to witness one player achieve 1,000 points, but two within one season is something special, and the team’s overall performance is showing it. The Crusaders are 19-6 (14-4), good for first in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), and have spent portions of the season in Division III’s top 25. Although the regular season has wrapped up, already it’s a stark contrast to the program’s previous five years since last winning the OAC in 2013. With zero winning seasons and a 39-51 conference record since, and the backcourt has played a major role in the turnaround.
“I think it’s the reason we are where we are at this point,” said head coach Damon Goodwin.
But to get to this point, Schreck and Weingartner had to slog through three unsuccessful seasons before this opportunity. Their first season was spent with an interim coach as Goodwin took the year off to battle an illness, and Goodwin said the senior leadership the last few years wasn’t strong.
But Schreck and Weingartner were the constants.
Schreck started every game his freshman year, immediately making an impact defensively. He was a prolific defender at Dixie Heights High School in Erlanger, Kentucky, but he knew he had to elevate his game on the other side of the floor.
“My first couple of months here at Capital, when we were playing open gyms before the season even starts, I’m looking around the gym and I’m like, ‘There’s a lot of dudes in here that I feel like are more talented than I am,’” Schreck explained. “I didn’t let that set me back at all, but I knew that I needed to progress in almost every aspect of my game if I wanted to become any kind of presence or be remembered at Capital at all.”
So he got to work.
As a freshman, Schreck averaged 7.8 points per game. As a sophomore, that number rose to 11.3. By his junior year, Schreck was scoring a team-high 15.3 points per game, and his three-point shooting jumped from 20 percent as a sophomore to 44.8 percent as a junior. Now as a senior, he’s putting up 16.8 points per contest on 51 percent shooting from the field.
“He has made himself a much better basketball player as a senior than when he came in here as a freshman, and that is through his hard work, mental toughness and coachability,” Goodwin said. “He always had that mentality of getting out there and doing the right things defensively, but now he’s a lot more skilled offensively.”
Weingartner had a slightly different path. He originally committed to NAIA Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, a decision Goodwin immediately questioned.
“He just didn’t seem to fit it to me,” Goodwin said. “I told him good luck, but when you make your mind up that that’s not the place for you, give me a call.”
A few days later, Goodwin received the call. Weingartner dropped out of Mt. Vernon Nazarene, spent the semester off from school and enrolled at Capital in December 2015.
He made 17 appearances and started three games his freshman year, but his role expanded his second season, posting double-digit scoring and seeing much more of the court. By the time he was an upperclassman, Weingartner had solidified himself as one of the team’s central players.
Weingartner has always been more of an offensive player, and after falling short of the 1,000-point milestone in high school at Centerville High School, near Dayton, Ohio, his new goal was to reach it at Capital.
“You always see a goal at the end of the road,” he said. “Me being relatively more of an offensive player, the 1,000-point mark was definitely something I wanted to hit before I left here.”
Goodwin said his defensive game has steadily improved since coming to Bexley, but his offensive game is what sets him apart.
“He’s one of the few guys in our program and probably in the league who can get a shot off whenever he wants to get a shot off,” Goodwin said. “He kind of came in that way, and he’s gotten a lot better, but that’s always been his go-to is he can get a shot off. He is an elite offensive player. He’s done a lot of things offensively that we haven’t had many kids do.”
Junior guard Dan Auble has been around to see both players progress through most of their Capital careers, and his assist totals have been a benefactor of their success.
“From a point guard standpoint, it makes my job a lot easier,” Auble said. “They make a lot of tough shots, and a lot of shots you don’t think they’re going to put up, they make.”
There’s still plenty of important basketball yet to be played, but Auble and Goodwin only have a few more months with Weingartner and Schreck before the pair graduate. There will be Capital men’s basketball after they move on, and Goodwin said he hopes his underclassmen learn from what they’ve seen from the duo.
Goodwin said his program has been down to one senior in a few classes lately because his younger players haven’t been able to push through hard times. He wants Schreck and Weingartner’s stories to change that tune.
“My hope as a coach is that they will help the next generation behind them with grinding through being a freshman and not playing very much, or being a sophomore and competing, trying to get on the court and that whole process of competing to play. That’s when kids usually walk away,” he explained. “They are an example of what can happen when you continue to work through difficult situations.”