Is This The Year?:2017 Hamilton Men’s Basketball Preview

2016-17 Record: 16-8 (4-6 NESCAC); lost to Tufts in NESCAC quarterfinals

2017-18 Projected Record: 17-7 (4-6 NESCAC)

Key Losses:

G Kyle Pitman ’17 (13.8 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.9 APG)

G/F Wes Wilbur ’17 (11.3 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 APG)

F Carlos Fineman ’17 (8.2 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.6 APG)

Projected Starters:

Jack Dwyer ’18 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

G Jack Dwyer ’18 (26.0 MPG, 7.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 5.4 APG)

Now in his fourth year at Hamilton, Dwyer has been a key contributor to the team since his freshman year. As one of two seniors in the starting lineup and as the point guard, Dwyer has the team’s biggest leadership role. However, he is up to the task as he has played floor general for the Continentals since his freshman season. He averaged 18 minutes a game off the bench as a freshman, with 3.8 points and 3.6 assists per game. The 5-10 point guard moved to a starting role in his sophomore season, improving to 11 points and 5.5 assists per game. Dwyer will have to improve on his 39.2 shooting percentage from last season, the second lowest on the team. He had a bit of a down year in stats as well last season, averaging 7.7 and 5.4, but should be ready to come back in full force this season. Dwyer is in the starting lineup for experience, but it should be noted that this spot will likely belong to Kena Gilmour ’20 sooner rather than later. Gilmour had a spectacular freshman season, averaging 12 points per game on 48% shooting in just 18 minutes. Dwyer provides an experienced counterpart to Gilmour’s potential, but potential will most likely win out.

Andrew Groll ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

F Andrew Groll ’19 (22.3 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.8 APG)

Groll got to Hamilton two years ago and started right away, averaging 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his freshman season. He picked up right where he left off the next year, averaging 8.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. At 6-7, Groll is the tallest player on Hamilton’s roster and could be due for a breakout junior season. If he can get into double digits, the Continentals could make a run for the top half of the NESCAC. There are several facets of his game that could easily get him over that mark. He shoots 44.8 percent which is low for a big man and will need to get that number up to 50 percent. He also has made a surprising 7 of 15 shots from behind the arc, which means he could have the potential to expand his game and shoot more three-pointers. Finally, Groll only shot 75 percent from the line and could also improve in that category. If Groll can make slight improvements in those three parts of his game, he could see some double-doubles this season.

Peter Hoffman ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

G/F Peter Hoffmann ’19 (28.3 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG)

Hoffman also started right away for the buff and blue, and averaged 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds his freshman season. He saw a nice uptick in production last year, averaging 16.7 points, fifth in the NESCAC, and 5.6 rebounds per game. He also made an impressive 42.2 percent of shots from behind the 3-point arc. It’s hard to ask more from the NESCAC’s fifth scorer, but as Hamilton’s best player Hoffman might need to increase his production for the Continentals to improve this season. He will likely see another increase in minutes and if he can increase his point total by even one basket a game, it could make the difference.

Michael Grassey ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

G/F Michael Grassey ’19 (23.6 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 APG)

Hailing from Winchester, Massachusetts, Grassey had a solid freshman season, averaging 9.4 points and 5 rebounds in 20 appearances off the bench. He earned a starting spot in his sophomore season, increasing his production to 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. His 82.1 percent career average from the free throw line leads the team. Grassey led the team in scoring several times last season, and it will be important for him to take next steps to help lighten Hoffman’s load. He also will need to continue to contribute on the boards despite his 6-4 stature. Grassey is an all around tough player and is in many ways the heart and soul of the 2017-18 Continentals.

Joe Pucci ’18 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

G/F Joe Pucci ’18 (24.1 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 APG)

The other senior on the team, Pucci, may not contribute as much on the stat sheet but is a leader both in the clubhouse and on the court. He averaged 6 points last season, a solid improvement from 5.3 points in his sophomore year. If he can find double figures a few times this season, it will certainly help the Continentals take more teams to the wire than last season. Again, part of Hamilton’s success relies on lightening the dependence on Hoffman. If Pucci can step up with more points, the Continentals will be rolling deep into the NESCAC playoffs.

Key/Breakout Player: Peter Hoffmann ’19

Hamilton has a deep starting lineup, but the offense runs through Hoffman and will depend on his production this season. The team was 8-2 when he scored 20 points or more, so if he can increase his production by the slightest amount, Hamilton should contend for the top half of the NESCAC. As stated before, the junior from Putnam Valley is likely to see even more time on the court. This is because his responsibilites for Hamilton are on both sides. He is their best scorer, using his size and touch to either post up smaller players or take forwards off the dribble. And defensively, he is their best rim protector, averaging nearly 2 blocks and two steals per game (1.9 and 1.7. respectively.) He will get the defensive assignment against many of the best scorers in the league, and will likely be asked to score 20 points as well. If he does this and Hamilton takes a leap forward in the tournament, Player of the Year is very much in the realm of possibility.

Key game: Friday, February 2nd at Bates

Hamilton has two Friday-Saturday road trips back to back in late January and early February. They will want to go 2-2 in that stretch, and three or even four losses could derail their season. Hamilton plays an unbalanced home and road schedule in the NESCAC, in fact, with six games on the road compared to just four at home. Last season, Bates’s 83-78 win ended a six-game Hamilton win streak. Although they recovered two games later with wins over SUNY Polytechnic and Williams, they certainly wish they could have that one back.

New Coach: Sherry Dobbs

Adam Stockwell added Sherry Dobbs to his staff this offseason, replacing Bryan Mathews who took an assistant job at Southern Virginia. Dobbs most recently coached as an assistant on the St. Lawrence staff, leading them to a 20-7 record and an NCAA Division III tournament appearance. Before that he spent 13 years at the head position for SUNY Potsdam where he got as far as the NCAA quarterfinals in 2005.

Season Outlook:

After a solid improvement from 2015-16’s 11-13 record, Hamilton finished 2016-17 at eighth place in the NESCAC. With only three seniors on the roster, the Continentals are still a young team and have a lot of promise for the future. However, the junior class of Hoffman, Grassey and Groll means they also have the ability to win now and could pose a serious threat to some of the NESCAC’s top half teams. It has been a theme of the last few seasons in the NESCAC that Hamilton is a threat. Last season it seemed imminent that the Continentals would use their immense potential to come for the top teams. This paranoia reached its peak following their upset of nationally ranked Wesleyan. However, they weren’t able to sustain that momentum, in large part due to that same youth. Four of their six NESCAC losses last season were decided by double digits, suggesting that, once they fell behind, they didn’t feel ready to come back.

Kena Gilmour
Kena Gilmour ’20 was Rookie of the Year last season, and could make a further leap this year.

On paper, this season has a chance to be different. Hamilton is kind of the Milwaukee Bucks of the NESCAC, in that they shy away traditional positions in favor of length and versatility. Hoffman, Grassey and Gilmour are all long, athletic players who can guard multiple positions and score from all over the court. As I said above, Hoffmann is the key to this team, but Gilmour may be the co-key. Gilmour has the potential to be a transcendent creator off the dribble, which Hamilton lacks right now. His relentless driving to the basket will open up lanes for Hoffmann, Grassey and Groll to either cut or pop out for three. If Gilmour makes another leap as a sophomore, Hamilton could finish in the top four. Not a typo, it’s very possible. But to do this, they must find a way to stay in games and not let teams pull away. Their previously mentioned unbalanced schedule will make for a tough season, but they might have the most returning talent in the league, and didn’t lose their best player (unlike Williams, Middlebury or Trinity.) This could be Hamilton’s year, but again, we said that last year.

One Step at a Time: 2017 Hamilton Football Preview

2017 Record: 3-5

Projected Record: 4-5

Projected Offensive Starters: (*Four Returning), 11 Personnel Pro Style

QB: Kenny Gray ‘20*

RB: Marcus Gutierrez ‘18*

WR: Joe Schmidt ‘20*

WR: Alec Waugh ‘18*

WR: Eli Saucier ‘18

TE: Trevor Pinkham ’19

LT: Sam Palomaki ’20

LG: A.J. Cantarella ’20

C: Mike Cantarella ’20

RG: Stephen Kelley ’19

RT: Micah Balogh ’19

Projected Defensive Starters: (*Four Returning), 4-3

DE: Alec Boyles ’20

DL: Michael Friedman ’19

DL: Will Rothschild ‘19

DE: John Martisch ’20

OLB: Sean Tolton ’19

MLB: Tyler Hudson ’19*

OLB: Cole Burchill ’19*

CB: Preston DeLaurentis ‘18

FS: Colby Jones ‘19*

SS: Rory Merklinger ’18

CB: Justin Leigh ’20

Projected Specialists: (*Two Returning)

K: Zach Altneu ’18

P: Billy Wagner ‘20*

KR: Joe Schmidt ’20 and Colby Jones ’19

PR: Sam Robinson ’20


Image result for hamilton college football 2016 marcus gutierrez
Senior Tailback Marcus Gutierrez ’18 could be due for a breakout season.

Since hiring coach Dave Murray who is now in his fourth season at Hamilton, the Continentals have steadily improved, going from 0-8 in 2014 to 2-6 in 2015 and 3-5 in 2016. The goal this year will be to get at least one more win in the nine game schedule. Hamilton returns eight starters from last year including a trio of star skill players on offense. After a strong freshman season in which he passed for 903 yards, sophomore quarterback Kenny Gray ’20 will attempt to link up with last year’s second place receiver and fellow sophomore Joe Schmidt ’20, who caught 28 passes for 301 yards. They will miss graduating senior Charles Ensley at the wideout position, but Alec Waugh ’18 is ready to fill that role. Hamilton’s offensive line is young and untested, with all of last year’s starters graduating. They will be thrown into the fire against Tufts’ defense on Saturday. Despite his small 5’5” stature, senior tailback Marcus Gutierrez ’18 racked up 419 yards on the ground last year, averaging 3.5 yards per attempt. If he can up that total to 4 yards or more per carry, Hamilton will easily be able to move the ball down the field and into the end zone. On a team that only scored 95 points last season, offensive improvement is by far the most important thing. The Continentals totaled 66 points in their three wins, but only 29 points in their five losses.

The defense returns four starters including second lead tackle Cole Burchill ’19 at linebacker. However only four returning starters means seven former backups will move into starting roles this season. This means a defense that already ranked third to last in the NESCAC could certainly face some early growing pains. It doesn’t help that they face last year’s runner up Tufts in the first game of the season. Tyler Hudson ’19 is the biggest blitzing threat with four sacks last season and was not far behind Burchill with 47 tackles. Despite the strength upfront in the base 4-3, Hamilton’s secondary is lacking, only returning one starter from a defense that ranked second to last in passing yards last season. The goal of course will be to limit the big passing plays and get the opposing points’ total under 20 to keep the offense in each game. The Continentals allowed a total of 177 points or 35.4 in losses last season compared to just 38 or 12.7 per game in wins. Of course, the two units must work together over the course of the season. If the offense continues to go 3 and out, it will be tough for the defense to keep their stamina and limit the points against.

Hamilton’s 2017 schedule starts off tough with a trip to last season’s runner up Tufts, but they could get their first win as early as week 2 when middle of the pack Amherst travel to Steuben Field. Home games against Colby and Bates are also winnable games and you have to give the Continentals a chance in their road trips to last year’s winless teams Williams and Bowdoin. The team has not won the Rocking Chair Classic against their closest geographic rival, Middlebury, in 21 years and can’t really expect a win in Vermont this year either. The home game against Wesleyan and the trip to Trinity also do not seem possible. Given the above constraints, a 4-5 or 5-4 record is a reasonable prediction for this year’s Continentals and would be a continuation of steady improvement under Coach Murray.

Offensive MVP: QB Kenny Gray ’20

Kenny Gray
Kenny Gray ’20 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

It is cliche to pick the quarterback as the offense’s most important player, but Hamilton’s strength is its passing game. That will depend on improvement from the sophomore who threw more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (3) last season. He has experienced wide receivers around him to make plays; he just has to get the ball to the right place. If Gray can play like he did in the end of season against Bates, completing 15 of 25 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, Hamilton will score points and could even be hard to stop on offense. Joe Schmidt, Alec Waugh, and Eli Saucier should continue to support him in the passing game while Marcus Gutierrez gets it done on the ground. Despite his small stature, Gutierrez will be an important every down back because of his speed.

Defensive MVP: OLB Cole Burchill ’19

Cole Burchill
Cole Burchill ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

As the leading tackler among returners, Burchill will anchor the defense along with converted defensive end Tyler Hudson at middle linebacker. Many NESCAC teams focus on the ground game so linebacker play is crucial to minimizing the other teams’ yards and points. This becomes even more important with a young defensive front and an unpredictable secondary. Look for Burchill to make the bulk of the tackles and be in on a lot of defensive plays this season. After finishing 16th last season, he could certainly challenge for the top five tacklers in the NESCAC.

Biggest Game: September 23 vs. Amherst

As Coach Dave Murray mentioned, Hamilton must play perfect football to steal an away win at Tufts this Saturday. The same is true of their games home against Wesleyan and at Trinity on September 30th and October 7th. Therefore an early home win against middle of the road team Amherst is crucial for a strong start to the season. Hamilton lost 34-0 at Amherst last season, but the Mammoths’ 4-4 record last team means they are a team the Continentals ought to beat if they want a winning season.

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Hamilton Stays Alive with Back-to-Back Wins

Joseph Lin '15 as taken his game to another level this season for the Continentals. (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
Joseph Lin ’15 as taken his game to another level this season for the Continentals. (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

Wins against Williams and Keystone College have provided hope that Hamilton is starting to turn it around after a rough patch to start NESCAC play. The Continentals were able to compete in their first four NESCAC games, losing by seven to Amherst and five to Colby, but a loss is a loss and before last weekend Hamilton was buried deep in the NESCAC cellar. However, the Continentals two most recent games have Hamilton players and fans thinking that all might not be lost. The most encouraging sign? That Hamilton has now shown an ability to win in different ways. Against the Ephs, Hamilton held an offense averaging 75.8 PPG on the season to 64 points, and against Keystone the Continentals dialed in from long range, nailing 9-18 three pointers.

Hamilton’s defeat of Williams was important not only for morale, but also to keep Hamilton mathematically afloat in the conference. While Hamilton went down by 12 points at 53-41 with 12:33 to go, they showed the tenacity to wait out Williams’ shooting barrage and pour in the points themselves to chip away at the lead. Williams made 14-29 three pointers (48 percent), with Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 shooting 7-10 from behind the arc. However, Hamilton stuck with the defense and held the Ephs to just 5-13 from three point range in the second half. The Ephs did not score from long range in the final 9:28 of the game.

With Williams cooling off, the Continentals took advantage with a key three pointer by Jack Donnelly ’16 followed by points from Peter Kazickas ’15 and Joseph Lin ’15 to cut the lead to four. The teams went back and forth for a while before Hamilton took the lead with 1:18 left on a jumper from Ajani Santos ’16. With Lin on the bench after his fifth foul, Jack Dwyer ’18 knocked down a couple of clutch free throws to put Hamilton up three. Finally, Kazickas’ shots from the line closed it out for the Continentals in their first NESCAC win.

Head Coach Adam Stockwell showed his experience down the stretch, twice instructing his players to foul with Hamilton up three. Williams’ Mike Greenman ’17 made 3-4 free throws in the game’s final moments, not enough to close the gap.

Kazickas led the way for the Continentals with 18 points and six rebounds, while Kyle Pitman ’17 had 12 and Lin followed them in double figures with 11 points and nine assists. Rooke-Ley finished with 21 points for the Ephs, and Wohl contributed 13 points and six rebounds.

After two NESCAC playoff appearances in the last three years, Hamilton struggled in the midseason this year with two straight losses to former Liberty League rivals Vassar and Union and four consecutive defeats in NESCAC play, which dropped the Continentals to 10-6 after a 7-0 start. The loss of transfer Matt Hart, who averaged 20.6 points per game last season, and the graduations of Greg Newton ’14 and Bradley Gifford ’14 left a major hole on the court for Hamilton, and many wondered whether there was enough talent left on the roster to fill that gap. Senior captain Kazickas has stepped up all over the floor, though, averaging 10.3 points per game, while Lin has transformed himself, taking on a full-time starting role and averaging 15.1 points and 6.7 assists per game, 5.6 and 1.8 last year. Lin currently leads the NESCAC in assists and is sixth in all of Division-III. Santos (11.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG) and Jack Donnelly (7.4 PPG, 39 percent 3-PT) have picked up where they left off last year and sophomores Pitman and Wes Wilbur ’17 have done their part averaging 6.7 and 5.5 points off the bench, respectively, with Pitman shooting 38 percent from behind the arc. Joe Pucci ’18 and Dwyer are getting better and better every game, and learning new roles, with Pucci, a natural guard, having to play more in the high post with his 6’7” frame. Zander Wear ’18 also adds height to the team, with his huge 6’11” body; while he’s only played 98 minutes so far this season he has shown the ability to win battles on the boards.

Hamilton’s 1-4 NESCAC record will have several pundits counting them out of the running for a playoff run, but their recent wins should give them some momentum as they go on the road. They have already played some of the better NESCAC teams in the conference in Amherst, Trinity and Bowdoin and close out their schedule with easier games (if there is such a thing in the NESCAC this season) against the Connecticut teams, Wesleyan and Connecticut College. Despite the recent improvements, Hamilton still has a young team. However, the bench is improving with every game as the Continentals enter the NESCAC stretch run. The Continentals are showing signs of improvement and should be a contender for one of the eight playoff spots, and then anything can happen.

Trinity Season Preview

Trinity (27-19, 8-4 in 2013)

What they lost:

The losses of Joe Papa and Alex Almeida will be huge for the offense, and departed outfielder Marc Crowley also hit over .300 in 2013. This offense will need a number of juniors to step up with only two senior position players on the roster, both of which saw limited time last year. Ben Goldberg, the only graduating pitcher, will be missed, but Trinity certainly has enough talent to fill that spot with the combination of Peter Burrows ’14, Scott Huley ’15 and Sean Meekins ’15. While Trinity is still young, they did not lose a lot in the offseason and should be looking forward to a tight-knit, experienced team this spring.

2014 MVP: P/OF Scott Huley ’15

A two-way player at pitcher and outfielder, Huley led the team with an outstanding .500 OBP last year, and placed third with a .371 batting average. With Papa graduating, Huley will likely move from the 5-spot to the 3-spot in the lineup. He also led the team in batting average against and was third in ERA on the mound. He will look to fill the void left by Papa and Almeida, who both bested him in batting average last year. If Huley can add some power to his 6’4’’ 175 lbs. frame, Trinity will remain atop the league in average in 2014.

2014 Pitcher of the Year: Peter Burrows ’14

After a junior campaign in which he led the team in innings pitched, strikeouts, and complete games, the senior captain will look to improve upon a 3.38 ERA in 2014. The powerful righty will replace Goldberg as the team’s ace and will look to improve on allowing 60 hits in 50 innings pitched in 2013. He is leading a young staff that struggled a bit last year, so he will have to have confidence to start off 2014 in the right way.

Season Outlook:

The coaching change is the biggest news for Trinity as Bryan Adamski, a former assistant at Amherst, replaces last year’s interim coach, Mark Lambert. Regardless of who is at the helm, Trinity should have another great year. Look for the Bantams to make a run for their third straight finish atop the East standings this spring. Offensive production may be a problem early on, but Trinity should quickly rebound on the heels of experienced pitching. Huley’s two-way abilities are certainly their largest asset, and they should capitalize on five returning starters that batted over .270 last season.

Hamilton Season Preview

Hamilton (16-21, 4-8 in 2013)

What they lost:

Gabe Klein will certainly be missed as he left with the best career on base percentage (.469) in Hamilton history. Thankfully, he and Sam Fuentes are the only starting position players that left the team, meaning Hamilton has an experienced group of everyday players this spring. Hamilton is only losing two pitchers, Mike Williams and Steve Wright, who both struggled with ERAs over 7.00 in limited action last year. Other than Klein, Hamilton has not lost a lot which means their entire team should be used to playing together which will only help in terms of chemistry.

2014 MVP: SS Zack Becker ’16

Starting in 29 games last year, Hamilton’s sophomore phenom is looking to build on an impressive batting average of .323 to go along with a .434 on-base percentage. With the loss of Klein, Becker will have to step up and lead the team into 2014. That can be a daunting task for a sophomore who will likely move up from fifth to third in the lineup this year. However, Becker’s previous stats show he’s up to the challenge. He will set the pace for an offense that does not hit a lot of home runs (only five total last year, four by Klein), and focuses on average and base running to score. Look for Hamilton to move up in the standings if Becker can pick up where he left off.

2014 Pitcher of the Year: J.J. Lane ’15

Lane had a tough freshman year, going 2-6 with a 7.80 ERA over nine starts. He gained confidence and turned everything around in his sophomore campaign, at 1-2 with a 1.46 ERA over eight starts. While some falling off is expected, anything near Lane’s 2013 dominance would be impressive. He will head up an experienced rotation that includes fellow junior Alex Pachella ’15 along with senior Colin Henneberger ’14 and sophomore Cole Dreyfuss ’16. If Hamilton’s offense can improve their run support, Lane should win most of his starts this year.

Season outlook:

Despite four straight finishes at last or tied for last in their division, Hamilton has improved it’s NESCAC record each year from 1-11 in 2010 to 4-8 last year. They won one game against each NESCAC opponent, and will look to change that into winning serieses in 2014. The season hinges on a number of juniors who will need to step up in their first year as upperclassmen. Production from Becker and Lane should be expected, but players such as Andrew Jaffoni ’15, Tyler Reinhold ’15 and Alex Pachella ’15 could make or break Hamilton’s season.


Williams Season Preview

What they lost:

Williams had perhaps the NESCAC’s toughest offseason, losing a vast number of contributing seniors. Their best hitters, Darren Hartwell, Taylor Mondshein, and K.C. Murphy all graduated as did important pitchers including Jimmy Ray, Patrick Blizzard, and Lucas Casso. Players such as Phil McGovern ’15 and Matt Kastner ’14 should see more time in 2014, and could be the key to rebuilding this Ephs team.

2014 MVP: UTL Marco Hernandez ’14

With the loss of Hartwell, Mondshein, and Murphy, Hernandez has big shoes to fill on the Ephs’ roster. Fortunately, he can play anywhere on the field, and posted a respectable .366 OBP in 2013. The senior out of Fort Worth, Texas will likely move higher in the lineup after batting sixth last year, and should continue to provide solid defense in the field. If he can continue to improve upon 27 RBIs last year, Hernandez will earn that spot in the lineup and contribute to what should be a high-powered Williams offense this year.

2014 Pitcher of the Year: Thomas Murphy ’15

With so many graduating seniors on the staff, Murphy will step into the unlikely role of ace this year despite a 5.08 ERA over five starts last year. If he can minimize the four home runs and .304 batting average against that he gave up last year, he can start to turn a struggling staff around after the losses of closer Ray and former ace Blizzard. Murphy will have to improve on consistency and confidence to lead this young staff in the spring.

Season Outlook:

It is tough to predict what will happen to this Williams team given all the turnover. They still have a number of contributing players on offense, and should not have a problem stringing runs together. The question mark is the pitching staff, as all the returning players had ERAs over 5.00 last year. Though it’s too soon to predict how the pitching staff will perform, Ephs fans should expect many high scoring games early on in the season, which is something to get excited about.