Construction continues but questions remain about fall semester

Meg Edwards and Hailey de la Vara
Transcript correspondents

Ohio Wesleyan’s construction and renovation plans continue to go forward despite the coronavirus pandemic, but no one, including OWU President Rock Jones, knows if students will return in the fall.

“I don’t know if we will be back on campus in the fall,” Jones said in an interview. “No one knows if we will be back on campus in the fall.”

At a time when uncertainty is a constant for everyone, Jones said he is working 12 hours a day just to keep up with the flood of emails and questions from people.

One concern is OWU’s international students and their ability to come back to campus.  About 100 were enrolled this semester and close to 35 students remain on campus. But with travel restrictions, it is highly likely they may have to continue to work remotely. The university will ensure that option is available, Jones said.

“We hope they will continue to be Ohio Wesleyan students,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, the university will press ahead with projects. Construction of the senior village apartments will start at the end of the month.

“The Board of Trustees believes it is critical to move forward with this work to enhance our ability to attract and retain students in an even more competitive recruiting environment,” Jones wrote in an April 6 administrative report to faculty.

The renovation of Smith Hall will continue, too, but the university is delaying for a year the planned $11 million project to renovate 122-year old Slocum Hall.

At the end of March, OWU finished raising over $4 million to completely renovate Branch Rickey Arena, the space where men and women’s basketball teams and volleyball and wrestling teams compete.

The refurbished facility will be air conditioned and include new flooring, bleachers, scoreboards with statistics panels, lights, and a sound system. The main lobby will be redone to create an entryway that highlights current Bishops, past champions and the legacy of the building’s name sake.

The money for the work came entirely from donations from alumni, parents of students and friends of OWU. Work is scheduled to begin in May and be completed in October 2020, but construction workers are already removing bleachers, Jones said.

Renovating the arena is important not just for student athletes, but for the whole community of Delaware, which uses it for summer camps and large events, especially when air conditioning will be in place, Jones said.

Cole Hatcher, OWU’s director of Media and Community Relations, said improving a campus facility benefits all students, including prospective students.

“I think everyone will appreciate seeing the new entryway that honors current and former Bishop athletes as well as Branch Rickey himself,” Hatcher said. “The All-American Lounge will be a wonderful addition as well.”

Renovations obviously will affect athletes and Jones in an April 3 email to faculty said he was “grateful to Coach (Krista) Cobb and the student athletes who will be impacted by this removal.”

But as volleyball team members said, they don’t play for the gym, they play for the team.

That was the decision that senior Molly Jewett came to with her teammates after learning their upcoming season games will be held in the field house, while Branch Rickey Arena is undergoing renovations.

“Wherever we are, we will still be OWUVB,” she said.

Freshman Chloe Merritt said she is not worried about the renovation interrupting the season,

“Rock Jones and (athletic director) Doug Zip and others have been super helpful and have done a very great job communicating with us on a personal level about the renovation and the process with it,” Merritt said.

Columbus-based Marker, Inc. is working on much of the construction on campus, but no contract has been finalized for the arena’s renovations. Marker built the Small Living Units on Rowland Avenue and has done LEED-certified environmentally friendly projects in the past.

Parking will not be affected by the arena’s renovations, Jones said. The only visible exterior change will be the entryway honoring the story of Rickey.

Jones also said no plans exist for a reopening celebration, but the campus will come together to celebrate when the work is done, Jones said.

“Campus is a ghost town,” Jones said. “I hate no one is here. We want to bring it back to life.”

Bishops’ late comeback falls short

By Peter Lujan

Transcript Correspondent

The game appeared to be spiraling out of control halfway through the first half for Ohio Wesleyan’s men in their basketball matchup against Wabash College Wednesday night.

The Bishops’ trailed the Little Giants of Wabash 24-7, but they stepped up the pace before the half ended and also in the second half. Although it was close at the end, it still wasn’t enough and OWU lost in Branch Rickey Arena with a final score of 80-77.

Senior guard Jaret Gerber led the way for the Bishops, scoring 17 points on the strength of five three-pointers.

The poor start was partially due to the Bishops’ shooting 5 of 22 from the 3-point range in the first half. That shot eluded the Bishops as they finished the game shooting 11 of 44 from 3-point range.

“Our offense is very high volume, we take a lot of shots, we shoot a lot of threes.  Some nights, it’s just not going in,” said freshman guard Jack Clement.

During the second half, Gerber and Clement created momentum after trailing at the half, 37-31. A layup by Clement tied the game at 39 after a quick 8-2 run to start the second half.

“When we’re out there running, when we’re getting up and down, that’s when we’re at our best,” Clement said.

The Bishops’ and Little Giants’ battled for the rest of the game, but Wabash was able to maintain a double-digit lead for the most part. Freshman point guard Bryson Lane hit some very important shots down the stretch, scoring 11 points in the second half.

The Bishops relied on the strength of their defense and the hot hand of Gerber down the stretch.

“When Gerb gets hot, he gets hot,” Clement said.

Gerber knocked down three triples. The Bishops’ aggressive play brought the team within one point with 14 seconds left, forcing them to foul Tyler Watson of Wabash. Watson nailed both free throws to give the Little Giants’ a 3-point lead with 11 seconds left.

The Bishops’ had one last chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but a heavily guarded corner three from Lane was no good. Time expired and the Bishops’ had come up just short.

“We drew up a really good play, we just didn’t get open,” Clement said.

The Bishops’ next game is at 3 p.m. Saturday against Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

Getting in the groove

By Peter Lujan

Transcript Correspondent

The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team burst from the gate Saturday afternoon, playing with tempo and shooting the lights out in defeating DePauw University 77-55 at Branch Rickey Arena.

The victory extended the Battling Bishops’ winning streak to three. Freshman power forward Grant Spicer led the charge with 16 points and seven rebounds, shooting 77% from the field. Spicer said it was part of the team’s game plan.

“One thing we like to go to is just throwing it into the post,” Spicer said. “Not necessarily even to score all the time, but to just play out of the post.”

It was a different story Jan. 15, when the Bishops struggled in the first half of their last game in Kenyon against Kenyon College, scoring only two points in the first ten minutes of the game. In the first half, the Bishops shot just 62% from the field and 50% from three-point range.

One key for Saturday’s win was to move the ball better and get it from sideline to sideline a couple of times, Spicer said.

“DePauw is a very good defensive team and that’s what you have to do to really good defensive teams like that,” he said.

The long ball was huge for the Bishops Saturday night, with six out of the ten players ringing up three-point field goals. It’s a big part of the team’s offense, said freshman guard Jack Clement.

“Our offense is built around the three point shot, mainly because all five guys who are out there on the floor are able to hit that shot,” Clement said.

Coach Mike DeWitt trusts his players to make those shots because of their chemistry, Spicer said.

“[ He] knows we all have the ability to knock down open shots,” Spicer said. “As soon as somebody gets hot, everyone starts to get into a groove.”

With a focus on pushing the tempo of the game and playing fast, the Bishops ensured DePauw paid for its errors Saturday. The Bishops’ scored 16 points off DePauw’s turnovers while DePauwscored only 2 points off the Bishops’ turnovers.

Clement said the team does agood job of taking care of the ball.

“So we make it a point in our offense to make sure that we capitalize off of turnovers that we do cause,” he said. “So if they make a turnover, we want to make sure that they pay for that, because that’s just a free possession.”

The Bishops will try to extend their winning streak Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

Harlem Globetrotters bring family fun to OWU

These innovative rules brought new and entertaining features to the world-renowned exhibition basketball team.
These innovative rules brought new and entertaining features to the world-renowned exhibition basketball team.
Fan rules included challenges such as “Make or Miss” shooting competition and “Hot Hand Jersey.”
Fan rules included challenges such as “Make or Miss” shooting competition and “Hot Hand Jersey.”
The Globetrotters allowed the stadium audience to dictate the rules of the game, giving a more hands on experience to fans.
The Globetrotters allowed the stadium audience to dictate the rules of the game, giving a more hands on experience to fans.
The famous Harlem Globetrotters took Branch Rickey Arena by storm last week while on their “Fans Rule World Tour.”
The famous Harlem Globetrotters took Branch Rickey Arena by storm last week while on their “Fans Rule World Tour.”