The Otterbein men's basketball team has begun to bounce back from a 12-year losing streak with the help of new head coach Andy Winters.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had lost 13 consecutive seasons, a streak stretching back 12 years that produced a win/lose record of 76-230. That changed as COVID-19 prevention measures eased up, with the 2021-2022 season marking the beginning of a win streak that continued with the next season. These two seasons marked the most single-season wins for the team since 2008.
Winters was selected in the spring of 2019 after spending five years at Capital University, where he was the lead assistant and interim head coach for two seasons. During the Capital Comets' 2015-16 season, Winters stepped up as interim head coach while head coach Damon Goodwin battled leukemia.
Over the course of the shortened COVID-19 season, the team went 2-7 but had a burst of success for the next two seasons with records of 17-8 and 14-12 after relying on upperclassmen and coaching strategies to build the team to success. “While last year was the most successful year in 15 or 16 years, a lot of people don't see the struggle of our first year going 8-18, the COVID-19 year where some guys missed half the games, but continued to stay in the gym and stay positive, I think that's what ultimately led to our success last year,” Winters said.
Many players were quarantined multiple times during the 2020-21 season, producing low team energy overall. “With my freshman year being COVID-19, it was definitely a drag to have to go through the whole process of getting tested, quarantined, and having to practice while also keeping our distance from each other, so it made it very difficult to have high team energy during that time,” junior guard Cam Evans said.
Although the COVID-19 season was an all-time low for the team, it ultimately fueled the players and coaches to step up because of how quickly a season could change for the worse.
“The COVID-19 season made me appreciate everything more, especially on the court because it helped push me to work at it more, so after quarantine, I was in the gym way more since I realized how precious it was and how fast it could be taken from me,” Evans said.