They're young, they're talented, and they just knocked off the No. 15-ranked men's basketball team in NCAA Division III.
Beat 'em convincingly.
Should Marietta College, a 74-57 winner over Wilmington College at Ban Johnson Arena Saturday, now switch places with the Quakers (12-4 overall, 7-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference) in the national rankings?
"You know, that's what our guys we're saying a lit bit afterwards," said third-year MC head coach Jon VanderWal. "But I told them that this doesn't mean we're going to be great. But it tells us that we can be really good and if they keep working hard every day and keep getting better, we can accomplish a lot of really good things this year."
While Marietta College, 7-8 overall and 4-5 in the OAC, is obviously not a nationally-ranked squad, could it conceivably though be the most dangerous team in the OAC?
K.C. Hunt gave the Pioneers a lot of credit.
"They have good players," said the Wilmington head coach, whose Quaker team is still the frontrunner in the OAC. "We knew all along that they have good players. Their challenge is similar to us in a lot of ways. When you're playing so many freshmen and sophomores, you kind of don't know what you're going to get sometimes.
"I thought they gave a tremendous effort tonight, and my hat's off to them."
During first-half action Saturday, there were 10 lead changes and four ties. At the break, Marietta led 39-33.
"At halftime, for the most part, we kept things the same," VanderWal said. "What we were doing was working. We just had to go out and have another half like the first one."
And, they did, and that's pretty much in a nutshell how they won.
"We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores," said 6-foot-6 MC sophomore frontliner Kevin Knab, who scored a game-high 21 points against the Quakers.
"So early in the year, we had games that we let slip away. Today (vs. Wilmington) was a perfect example of us growing up. We've matured and know how to protect the lead now."
Never was that more evident than late in the second half when Wilmington had a 7-0 run to cut the lead to six points. Marietta never panicked, though. Instead, it came back to regain its double-digit advantage and then won going away.
"I got a little worried (when Wilmington rallied)," said 6-foot-6 MC sophomore Trevor Halter, who finished with 17 points in the contest.
"But there was no way we were going to give it away this time. We lost to them last year by giving up the lead."
Added VanderWal, "In the past when we've played teams like that that have set us up, we get going too fast, and we have turnovers and stuff," VanderWal said. "But our kids really kept their composure today, and played smart and executed the game plan to perfection."
Do you think maybe next year at this time, Marietta College can look back at the Wilmington game as a breakout win for the program?
"I'd like to think so," Knab said. "I mean, this would be huge, carrying the momentum into Tuesday's game."
Not surprisingly, Knab, Halter, VanderWal, and the rest of the Pioneers are not looking past Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. game against Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) University at Skibo Gymnasium in Pittsburgh.
The Tony Wingen-coached Tartans (4-9, 0-3) dropped a 74-70 decision to Case Western Reserve in Cleveland on Saturday.
Carnegie Mellon was paced by Matthew Pettit, who scored 18 points. John Duhring added 12, and Jack Anderson and Christian Shepley chipped in with 11 apiece.
"We don't get to enjoy this one (win over Wilmington) for very long," VanderWal said. "We've got a quick turnaround. We've just got to keep the momentum going."
By the way, if you didn't know beforehand, the MC men's roster features only two seniors - starter Matt Kubachka and former Frontier standout Daun Lutes. What this means is that if VanderWal and his coaching staff can keep this year's juniors, sophomores and freshmen together after this season, the future looks pretty favorable.
Thing is, MC is looking at the future as now, and it's looking pretty darn good after the Wilmington win.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at firstname.lastname@example.org