The day was Nov. 19, and Webster University freshman basketball player Danny Zehner was too anxious to even eat a pregame meal.
“I didn’t eat anything today. I was too nervous; I only had like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Zehner said.
Zehner’s nerves broke him out of his typical pregame routine.
“Normally, I eat two peanut butter sandwiches,” he said. “But I couldn’t eat it today because I was too nervous.”
Danny Zehner’s parents, Steve and Tammy Zehner, and sister Maggie Zehner, who is a junior point guard on the Webster women’s basketball team, were there to cheer Danny Zehner on during his first regular-season college game. The Gorloks took on Bluffton University and fell short in overtime to the Beavers, 79-76.
Maggie Zehner said watching her brother play makes her nervous, but she enjoys it. Steve and Tammy Zehner said they love to watch their son play because they like to see him compete. Danny Zehner said he appreciates the constructive criticism his family offers, as they always let him know what he did wrong and what he needs to work on.
Danny Zehner’s postgame thoughts
The Bluffton player who Danny Zehner was guarding at the end of overtime hit the game-winning 3- pointer in the game’s final seconds to seal the Beavers’ win. Danny Zehner said he felt bad, though he did learn something.
“I let him hit that game-winning shot in my face,” Danny Zehner said. “I need to play tight on shooters.”
Danny Zehner played 14 minutes. He finished the game with four points, one rebound and one assist.
Defining the Zehner basketball tradition
Steve Zehner had his children play basketball because “it was something that kept them out of trouble.”
Tammy Zehner added that her kids had fun and liked playing the sport. The Zehner clan took their love of the game to Webster’s hardwood. Danny and Maggie Zehner’s older sister, Molly Zehner, played for the Webster women’s basketball team for two years before graduating last May.
Maggie Zehner said she’s excited to have another Zehner join her in the Webster basketball family.
“I’m pretty happy that he came here,” Maggie Zehner said. “”It’s nice to be able to know someone on the team again since my sister left.”
Maggie Zehner stayed out of her brother’s college decision-making, but Danny Zehner decided to attend Webster because it was close to home and comfortable for him.
Danny Zehner’s high school basketball coach Nicholas Traxler also happens to be a Webster alumnus, but Danny Zehner said he chose Webster because the basketball coaches had recruited him since his junior year, and they made him feel at home on his visit.
“It wasn’t just because his sisters were here that we were interested in him,” Webster coach Chris Bunch said. “We knew that he was a good player.”
Danny Zehner’s basketball potential
“He reminds me a lot of me my freshman year,” junior guard Cody Bradfisch said. “I think he can do whatever it takes offensively. With more experience, he’s only going to get better.”
Bradfisch thinks Danny Zehner can be a great slasher and catch-and-shoot player. He believes Danny Zehner will be a vital part of the team this year.
Bunch is excited to have the latest Zehner on his team. He thinks Danny Zehner is a versatile and talented player, and Bunch said he is strong, can handle the ball, has good post and guard skills and plays great defense.
“I think he can be a two or three-year All-Conference guy,” Bunch said. “I think he’s that good. It’ll just be up to him.”