Tim Hausfeld and his West Liberty University teammates are two wins from fulfilling their mission.
The Hilltoppers, the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II men’s basketball, want to cap one of their best seasons in school history as the national champions.
“It would really reflect on the program and all the guys here who are playing and who put in all the hard work,” said Hausfeld, the Hilltoppers’ 5-foot-7, 145-pound senior guard.
West Liberty (34-1) will enter today’s semifinal in Louisville at noon (TV: CBS) against No. 3 Metro State (31-2) riding a 20-game win streak after a 110-84 trouncing of Winona State on Thursday in a quarterfinal.
A three-year starter, Hausfeld knows plenty about working hard. It’s come with the territory for a playmaker recognized as an undersized player practically every step of his career. Yet, it has never stopped him from proving to be one of the best players on the court at every level of his development.
The 2009 Southview graduate left the Cougars as one of the most awarded players in the program’s history. He earned Blade Player of the Year honors his senior year after averaging 20.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.1 steals while playing a prominent role in leading Southview to its second straight Northern Lakes League championship.
He also earned All-Ohio second team, as well as Division I district player of the year honors as a senior.
After finishing as Southview’s career record-holder for points (1,441), assists (358), and 3-pointers (202), Hausfeld took his talents to West Liberty where he’s helped the Hilltoppers reach the Final Four twice, Elite Eight three times, and the Sweet Sixteen all four years.
Hausfeld is a 3-handicap golfer, and West Liberty offered him a chance to play both basketball and golf in college.
Before West Liberty, with its traditionally strong basketball program, came into the recruiting picture, he had considered attending Bowling Green or Toledo to play golf and attempt to try a walk-on for the men’s basketball team.
“West Liberty was probably my best option because I could still play both sports,” said Hausfield, who passed on golfing this year to focus on basketball.
The physical education and health major plans to use his final year of golf eligibility next year while completing his student-teaching requirements.
Hausfeld has been one of the Hilltoppers’ primary ballhandlers and distributors in an offense that is quite welcoming to players looking to run-and-gun for 40 minutes.
As a team, the Hilltoppers are averaging 103.4 points per game while holding their opponents to 78.4 this season.
“Coach [Jim Crutchfield] emphasizes taking the best shot available,” Hausfeld said. “The way our offense works is you usually get a good shot in about the first 15 seconds [of the possession] because we have some really good scorers.”
Alex Falk, a 6-3 senior guard from Upper Sandusky, leads five Hilltoppers who average double-figures in scoring with a team-best 20.8 scoring average.
Hausfeld, who averages 8.8 points (sixth-best) and 3.1 assists, said the Hilltoppers’ style of play was ideal for him. He has notched a team-high 63 3-pointers and made 90 percent of his foul shots (51 of 57).
“I would say I’m more of a take-care-of-the-ball point guard,” he said. “But my role is kind of complicated because everybody on the floor can handle the ball.
“Sometimes I’m a spot-up shooter and sometimes I take care of the ball. We have a lot more scorers here than when I was in high school, [when] I was relied on to score.”
He averaged 12.3 points as a junior, 10.3 points as a sophomore, and 4.1 in his freshman season.
Despite his scoring average being a couple points off from the last two seasons, Hausfeld finds himself enjoying his final year in a Hilltoppers uniform perhaps more than any of the previous three.
The Hilltoppers reached the Final Four during his sophomore year and, until this season, that was their best chance at winning a national championship.
“I would definitely say my sophomore team was really good, but with this team, we have everyone back from last year and we’ve been playing well,” Hausfeld said. “We’re playing good basketball right now.”
Two more victories could help make this season the most memorable in a four-year run in which Hausfeld played an integral role in the Hilltoppers, who are posting a 128-8 record in the last four seasons.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade