Obade plays role in turnaround

| Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 8:05 p.m.

Charleroi High School graduate Elijah “Eli” Obade is hoping to end his collegiate men's basketball career at Millersville University of Pennsylvania by helping the Marauders earn their first postseason appearance in five years.

A 6-foot-9-inch, 245-pound senior center, Obade is again the team's top rebounder and second-leading scorer.

Through nine games, he is averaging 15.8 points and 14.1 rebounds per game. He is shooting a team-best 66.7 percent from the floor (60 of 90) and also leads Millersville with 28 blocks. Obade has had five “double-double” games so far this season.

In the 16-team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Obade ranks first in rebounding, blocks and is 13th in scoring.

He was chosen as the first PSAC-East Athlete of the Week last month when he averaged 15 points and 12.5 rebounds over four games. Obade opened the season by scoring a career-high 27 points with 13 rebounds and two blocks in a one-point loss at Ohio Valley. He was the first Marauder in nearly two years to receive the division's weekly award.

Two weeks later he received the weekly honor again after averaging 19 points, 15 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game in PSAC victories over Clarion and Lock Haven. Obade's dominant play helped the Marauders to their first 2-0 start in PSAC play since 2007-08.

Obade is one of four returning double-figure scorers this season and plays an important role according to Fred Thompson, Millersville's 15th-year head coach.

“Their leadership really shows,” said Thompson about the returning veterans. “We use the term ‘good cop, bad cop.' Elijah is the bad cop. He does the yelling and is the guy that gets the other players going. Elijah gets on them and knows what I expect of the team.”

A transfer from Delaware Technical & Community College where he averaged eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game in 2009-2010, Obade led the PSAC in rebounding and blocked shots in 2011-12.

He averaged 11.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season for the Marauders with 55 blocks. Obade also dished out 23 assists and made 25 steals while shooting 57.3 percent from the floor (114 of 199). Obade recorded ten “double-doubles.” He scored ten or more points in 13 different games and grabbed ten ore more rebounds 16 times.

Obade averaged 5.7 points and 5.2 points per game for the Marauders two years ago, which ranked sixth and third among the individual leaders, respectively.

He was a three-sport star at Charleroi High School, also competing in football and track and field. During his senior scholastic season, Obade averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks per game for the Cougars and veteran head coach Bill Wiltz. Obade earned eight varsity scholastic athletic letters overall, also competing in football and track and field.

Thompson is not surprised by Obade's breakthrough season so far. He described his team's only true center as a strong and athletic player who runs the floor well and said his presence on defense is what makes the difference for Millersville.

“We are expecting a lot out of him and he is delivering,” said Thompson. “He's been great. We love the kid. He's been a good leader for us and understands what we want in the system. If we had to pick one kid that's the most important to this team, it's him. It's the little things that he does defensively. Eli is always in the right spot.”

As of Dec. 17, Millersville was 7-2 overall and 3-0 in PSAC competition.

The Marauders have made 11 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances since 1985 and advanced to the national quarterfinals in 1989.

Millersville last competed in the postseason in 2008. After reaching the PSAC semifinals, the Marauders received an at-large bid to the NCAA East Regional. The Marauders defeated Edinboro and Pitt-Johnstown Universities before falling to host California University of Pennsylvania in the regional finals.

Millersville's next action is a PSAC home game against Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.

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