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Bensman steps up

Rich Bensman was hired as ONU's next basketball coach on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. (Northern Review photo/Jennifer Kolb)

Tradition and a strong history run through the roots of the Ohio Northern University men’s basketball team. The new head coach, Rich Bensman, plans to add a culture of family, along with other improvements to the men’s basketball program. This is just the basis of Bensman’s plan to turn the men’s basketball program around directly.

“The tradition. It’s what I like to do. I think you set high goals or you would not be wanting to doing it.  So, we have very high goals and again, I think this is a great place, a really good university,” Bensman said.

“I think winning is a byproduct of other things and winning comes from how you handle and treat people, that you all have a common goal, and a purpose, then you have a family. Just having that family, that close-knit group, and practices were my most favorite times, and they still are.”    

When asked about defining what it means to be the ONU head basketball coach, Bensman said that “Two words come to mind, tradition and family. There is a lot of tradition here and I think this is a family.  These kids, again you want to build a culture; this is their home away from home. We are their family away from their family.”

The tradition for the men’s basketball program is what drives Bensman to turn the program around.  Bensman has a strong relationship and the support of Joe Campoli and Gail Daugherty, two of ONU basketball’s founding fathers. Bensman commented, “Obviously, Campoli and Daugherty were the godfathers of basketball here.  Gail started it and Joe was his assistant.  And Joe kind of finished up a little bit for another 13 years.  But Joe’s accessible, because he is right here. Gail, I get to see when he visits from time to time.”

The current members of the men’s basketball program are excited about the coaching change and are ready to improve the program.  Travis Feitshans, regarding the team said, “Coach Bensman likes his team to get out and run, so the summer will be crucial for our team to have the kind of start to the season we are hoping to have.”

Feitshans also added, “I am excited he has gotten the opportunity to become head coach. He is the hardest working coach I have ever had.  He is always doing something to help better our team, whether it is watching film, going to watch a high school game to recruit, reading a basketball book, or going to a coaches’ clinic.  He will put his heart and soul into this team and Ohio Northern will be at the top of the conference again, right where we belong.”

Feitshans is not alone, as his teammates are excited and ready to be led by Bensman. Devon Allen noted, “Not only myself, but the other guys on the team are looking forward to next year. We are pretty excited.” 

“We have a chance to do something special, we have a lot of talent, it will be interesting to see incorporating and putting it together.  I think we can do some big things,” Allen said.

As an athlete at ONU, Allen added, “I think it is a very special thing, a lot of tradition and rich history has come through this school. My dad played here, and there are a number of guys on the basketball team with alumni parents, and it’s just kind of a special thing to not only get a great education, but play a sport you love as well.”

Bensman has plans in place to setup and rebuild the ONU men’s basketball program. Bensman mentioned, “In coaching and teaching there are a lot of life lessons.  It’s a game, first of all, it’s the game of basketball. In whatever field they are going to be in, they will have to have team work. Whatever they are going to graduate in, and they are going to have to know leadership.  So, I think a lot of guys are going to walk out of here with much more than just basketball.  They are going to learn some things about leadership.  They are going to learn I have some quotes from time to time. Like, “It’s easy to be captain of the ship when the sea is calm.” Anybody can be a good leader when everything is going well, it’s when things are not going well, sometimes you have to be really good at your job and be a good leader.  So, they are going to be good teammates, and they are going to be good leaders and I think the hard work, a disciplined schedule . . . we are asking these guys to be uncommon.”

The men’s basketball program will have leaders, but all of the athletes are important, they all play a role for a successful season.  Bensman noted, “That is all part of it, basketball is just a piece of it.  I don’t want to be a basketball coach, I want to set a culture, and get the culture where it once was, too.  I think you do that that with those sorts of things.  But, they are going to learn a lot, and when they leave, they will take those things to their jobs when their going, they will take teamwork, they will take leadership, they will take the communication, everyone one of the guys.”

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