Wesleyan Team Preview: Overlooked Cardinals Return Everyone

Wesleyan Cardinals

2013-2014 Season: 11-13 (4-6 NESCAC), missed NESCAC tournament because of lost tiebreaker with Colby and Tufts.

Head Coach: Joe Reilly, 7th year, 72-76 (.486)

Starters Returning: 5

G Harry Rafferty ’17

G/F Joe Edmonds ’16

F Rashid Epps ’16

G BJ Davis ’16

G Jack Mackey ’16

Breakout Player: C Joseph Kuo ’17

All five starters for Wesleyan return, but that does not mean the Cardinals will employ the same starting lineup. Last year the Cardinals usually went with a small lineup with Epps often having to matchup against the opponent’s top post player. The emergence of Kuo into a starting role will make Wesleyan much better on the defensive end. The 6’9″ center played sparingly last year, but the early returns this season have been exceptional. Kuo is averaging 9.6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He will be able to battle the top big men of the NESCAC, something Wesleyan could not do before.

Projected Starting Five

Harry Rafferty (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Harry Rafferty (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

G Harry Rafferty ’17

Rafferty started nearly every game as a freshman after taking a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter. The southpaw does a good job initiating the offense but tried to do too much at times. He needs to cut back on the 46 turnovers he had. He was the leading scorer for Wesleyan in 2013, but he needed 10.5 shots to average 12.6 points per game. The maturation of players around him should help take the pressure off Rafferty and make him into the efficient smart point guard that he can be.

Joe Edmonds (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Joe Edmonds (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

G/F Joe Edmonds ’16

The junior was the second leading scorer for the Cardinals, yet his role might diminish this season as other players rise to the front. A big reason for that is because Edmonds was not very efficient shooting the ball finishing the year below 40% from the field. He should still be an important part of the Cardinals success however if he reinvents himself as a solid all-around contributor instead of a scorer first.

 

Rashid Epps (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Rashid Epps (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

F Rashid Epps ’16

The most dynamic player on the Wesleyan roster is a force down low despite only being listed at 6’4″. Epps scores all of his points inside of the paint and is relentless on the boards. He averaged 9.2 rebounds per game last year, more than half of which were offensive rebounds. After being overmatched on defense height-wise against some of the NESCAC big men, Epps will hound the opposition’s power forwards with Kuo beside him.

 

BJ Davis (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
BJ Davis (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

G BJ Davis ’16

Davis pushed his way into the starting lineup in the second half of the year and developed into a great off-ball guard. His ability to shoot the ball from deep was a big reason why he ended up starting and he averaged 11.1 points per game in 2013. He was at times an inconsistent player with a lot of game with less than 5 points, but when he gets going Wesleyan becomes very hard to guard.

 

Joseph Kuo (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Joseph Kuo (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

C Joseph Kuo ’17

We covered him already in our breakout player section. Although defense is what he brings immediately to the table, his potential offensively is what Wesleyan fans are really excited about. Last year every impact player besides Epps relied on the three point shot heavily for their offense. Kuo is a classic banger down low who will set screens and draw attention of help defenders on the roll. That should free up shooters on the outside. Kuo could be a Tyson Chandler like player for the Cardinals.

Everything Else:

The youngest team in the NESCAC last season, Wesleyan played almost exclusively sophomores and freshman in 2013. Now those players are back with another year of seasoning. The Cardinals lack any early season buzz because they did not manage to notch any signature victories against the top teams. Still their talent level is high and coach Joe Reilly has proven that he is the man for the job.

Jack Mackey ’16, although not predicted to be in the starting lineup has started every game so far for Wesleyan. The junior has done a great job distributing the ball around so far and has been the leading assist man for Wesleyan. PJ Reed ’17 is another perimeter oriented player who gives the Cardinals depth. Finally, Chris Tugman ’15 and Tim Gallivan ’15 are the primary backups on defense.

A key for Wesleyan is doing a better job of running offense without turning the ball over. Perhaps not too surprisingly for a young team, Wesleyan had the worst assist/turnover ratio in the NESCAC. If they take better care of the ball then they will be able to stay close against the best teams in the league. They showed Saturday they are capable of giving Williams a run for the money. They will get better as the season goes along also.

Getting Into the Groove: Stock Report 11/24

Hayden Rooke-Ley '15 talking to Coach Kevin App (courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 talking to Coach Kevin App (courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Now that a full week of games is in the books, we can step back a little bit and dive into some of the early trends emerging. The first game between NESCAC teams happened over the weekend. If Williams’ overtime victory over Wesleyan was any indication, then the NESCAC regular season should be as wide-open as we are hoping.

A major theme is how the sophomore class is asserting themselves as the major playmakers around the league. From players like Zuri Pavlin ’17 and Harry Rafferty ’17 who were already starters from day one to others like Mike Greenman ’17 and Joseph Kuo ’17 who are delivering with increased playing time, sophomores are difference-makers on almost every team in the NESCAC.

Stock Up

Center David George ’17 (Amherst): The guard play for the Jeffs has been a little uneven, but George has delivered on the promise he showed down the stretch of 2013 to help keep Amherst undefeated. The sophomore’s 7.7 rebounds per game, of which 3.7 are offensive rebounds, are no surprise given his size and athleticism. His offensive game, while still undeniably still somewhat underdeveloped, is unbelievably efficient. He is averaging 13.7 points per game on 75% shooting, the second highest percentage in the NESCAC behind John Swords ’15. Unlike last year when George was often surrounded by shooters on the court, Amherst is playing with two bigs most of the time. He is working with less space to work with but is having no problems scoring with ease. Having two big men in the game at once is also a big reason why Amherst has a rebounding margin of +20 so far.

Guard Jake Brown ’17 (Middlebury): Last year Brown established himself as a dogged defender and player capable of getting into the lane. This year he is going full Rondo as a table-setter for the talented Middlebury wings. He leads the league with 6.5 assists per game despite playing less than 24 minutes a game because Middlebury has been involved in a few blowouts already. He is able to get into the lane with ease and kick it out to Matt St. Amour ’17 or find a cutting Dylan Sinnickson ’15. Though he isn’t scoring much, he showed himself capable of filling Joey Kizel’s role of hitting big shots at the end of games when he hit the go ahead jumper with 30 seconds left against Clark yesterday. Brown will likely play less than 30 minutes a game because of the presence of talented youngster Jack Daly ’18. That should allow him to continue his frenetic pace as he leads the Middlebury fast break game.

Guard Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 (Williams): The Ephs have struggled out of the gate, but there have been some bright spots so far. The fact that Rooke-Ley has become absolutely locked in as a shooter is one of the brightest. In a blowout of Johnston State, he set a Williams’ record by going 12-15 from beyond the three point line. He did not even attempt another shot from the field or a foul shot. Rumors have it he actually did not go inside of the three point line on offense all game (not actually). What makes the Johnston State game even more impressive is that two days before he went 0-9 from the field, including 0-7 from deep. He was able to fight through a couple of tough games at the beginning of the year before hitting his stride. Yet perhaps the best statistic Rooke-Ley has going so far is his free throw shooting. He is a perfect 28 for 28 from the stripe through four games. No other player has made more than 22 free throws and only one player has even attempted more than 28. That is crazy.

Stock Down

Tufts’ Shooting: The return of Tom Palleschi ’16 made Jumbo fans ecstatic over the idea of him teaming with Hunter Sabety ’17 as an unstoppable duo inside. The early returns for Tufts have been subpar, but that is not actually because of any problems in the interior. The Tufts offense is struggling because there is not enough shooting right now. The Jumbos are shooting 25.8% from three, the second lowest percentage in the conference. Ben Ferris ’15, Ryan Spadaford ’16 and Stephn Haladyna ’16 were supposed to supply most of the outside shooting. And while Spadaford has hit half of his threes through two games, Ferris and Haladyna are both below 25%. It gets even worse when you combine that with the Jumbos hitting less than 60% of their free throws.

Bates’ Depth: The Bobcats have gotten off to a great start beating two NCAA tournament teams from 2013 on their way to a 3-0 start. The reasons for the quick start are pretty simple. Mike Boornazian ’16 and Graham Safford ’15 are the best backcourt in the NESCAC and have played great so far. Yet, Bates might be overly reliant on those two players. They account for 51.6% of the scoring, 36.8% of the rebounding, and 65.8% of the assists overall for Bates. Throw in center Marcus Delpeche ’17, enjoying an uptick of production this season, into that equation and the numbers become even more ridiculous: 65% scoring, 56% rebounding, and 77% assists. A big reason for Bates slumping down the stretch was because Safford could not continue his high level of play down the stretch. Bates needs other players to step up in order to maintain better balance and not be overly reliant on the play of a few players.

Bates Team Preview: A New Hope

http://i2.wp.com/athletics.bates.edu/sports/mbkb/2012-13/photos/MurphyDerek_0383-600x400.jpg?resize=600%2C400

Bates Bobcats

 2013-2014 Season: 11-13 (1-9 NESCAC), Lost Final 4 Games all to NESCAC Opponents

Head Coach: Jon Furbush, 7th Season

 Starters Returning: 3

G Graham Safford ‘15

G Mike Boornazian ‘16

F/C Malcolm Delpeche ‘17

Breakout Player: Marcus Delpeche ’17

The 6′ 7″, 205 pound forward Delpeche has everything going for him this year. With the graduation of Sean Cunningham ’14, who started 21 out of the 24 games last season, the door is open for Marcus to have a standout year. After the first two games, Delpeche has averaged 31 minutes per game and has shown so far that he has what it takes to be a force under the basket, averaging 8.5 rebounds and points so far. Working in tandem with his brother Malcolm Delpeche, the center for the Bobcats, Marcus is poised to have a great year.

Projected Starting Five:

Graham Safford (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Graham Safford (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

G Graham Safford ’15 – Safford led his team in scoring and assists last year with 16.3 points per game and 4.4 assists per game. As a captain for the Bobcats this year, the team will look for Safford to lead them both on and off the court. He is arguably the team’s best scorer this year, and has the ability to take control of a game down the stretch. A player that is not afraid of the big moments, Safford is expected to have a successful final season for the Bobcats.

 

 

Mike Boornazian (Courtesy of Bates)
Mike Boornazian (Courtesy of Bates)

G Mike Boornazian ’16 – As a big, athletic guard, Boornazian compliments Safford’s game well. As the team’s two-guard, he usually guards the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer. Offensively, Boornazian is a threat from beyond the arc, and showed that last year,  shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range. At 6′ 5″ and weighing 205, he is not afraid to go up and get rebounds, as he led Bates last year with 6.1 rebounds per game. After averaging just under 16 points per game in only his sophomore year, Boornazian is developing into a seasoned veteran at his position. Look for him to have a good year.

 

Billy Selmon (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Billy Selmon (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

G Billy Selmon ’15 – Selmon looks to solidify his role on the team as their premier defenseman. He led the NESCAC in steals last year as a junior with 2.1 steals per game, while only starting in 12 games. This year, Selmon is expected to be a full time starter, and looks to make his defensive presence known by all teams throughout the league.

 

 

 

Marcus Delpeche (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Marcus Delpeche (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

F Marcus Delpeche ’17 – Delpeche is looking to solidify his presence alongside his brother under the basket. While his post game is still developing, Delpeche has the ability to finish at the rim, as well as snag rebounds. With the perimeter threats of Safford and Boornazian, expect Marcus to have an increased role as defenses take away the outside threats and dare Marcus to take over down low.

 

 

 

Malcolm Delpeche (Courtesy of Bates Athletics
Malcolm Delpeche (Courtesy of Bates Athletics

C Malcolm Delpeche ’17 – Malcolm Delpeche had a good start to his college career last year as a freshman starting in 19 of the 24 games and averaging 7.1 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. It’s going to be crucial for Delpeche to continue to rebound the basketball in order to give his sharpshooters more opportunities to score. Similarly to his brother, Malcolm can put points on the board underneath.

Everything Else: 

The Bobcats have an opportunity to surprise the league this year after their losing season in 2013-2014. Although they had a 1-9 record against fellow NESCAC teams, their record did not tell the whole story. Beating a good Middlebury team 64-61 last year proved that this team has the potential to move up in the NESCAC rankings.

The Delpeche twins both had solid freshman years, and it’s likely that their games will only improve with more experience. Look for these two sophomores to step into their roles and become even more comfortable with the pace of college basketball. Time will do well for the brothers as they look to develop into a dynamic duo for the Bobcats.

Last season, after losing senior captain Luke Matarazzo to an injury, Bates had a difficult time filling the gap when Matarazzo went down. Losing the final four games of the season was difficult, but it’s a new season and they need to have a short memory going into this year. While the ability to respond to adversity is key for every team, given that injuries are inevitable, last year’s exposure to dealing with such issues will only help Bates this season. With three returning starters, the experience is there. Having already begun the year 2-0 with wins against Nichols and Babson, things are looking positive for the Bates Bobcats so far this season.

Amherst Team Preview: Jeffs Reload, Not Rebuild

Coach Dave Hixon cuts down the nets.
Coach Dave Hixon cuts down the nets.

Amherst Lord Jeffs

2013-2014 Season: 27-4 (9-1 NESCAC), first in NESCAC, won NESCAC tournament, reached NCAA Final Four

Head Coach: David Hixon, 37th year

Starters Returning: 2

G Connor Green ’16

F David George ‘17

Breakout Player: Eric Conklin ’17

Conklin is a 6’6″ 235 pound forward who transferred from the University of Arizona this year. He is yet another big body who will punish NESCAC teams in the post. Playing time might be hard to come by because of all the other front court players on the Amherst roster, though. If he can show that he has a developed mid-range or three-point shooting game, then he will carve out an important role for the Jeffs.

Projected Starting Five:

Jayde Dawson-Gordon (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Jayde Dawson-Gordon (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

G Jayde Dawson-Gordon ’17

Dawson-Gordon arrives in Amherst as a transfer from Division-I Fairleigh-Dickinson. He had a fairly (I crack myself up sometimes with this stuff) disappointing freshman year, and transferring down is not an automatic indicator of success. Still, with no established point guard on the roster, the opportunity is there for Dawson to take the job and run with it, but returners Jeff Racy ’17 and Reid Berman ’17 will also push for minutes in the backcourt, and both had strong season openers.

 

Connor Green (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Connor Green (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

G Connor Green 

Green is the seasoned vet that returns this year for the Lord Jeffs. With the losses of Tom Killian ’14, David Kalema ’14,  and Aaron Toomey ’14, Green has huge shoes to fill as the experienced leader on a young team that has only one senior. After averaging 17.9 points per game and 5.8 rebounds, Green could be in the running for Player of the Year honors in 2014-15. He is a bull of a player who is a somewhat streaky shooter from the outside. He will have a lot more responsibilities in creating offense for the Jeffs later in the shot clock.

Johnny McCarthy (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Johnny McCarthy (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

G Johnny McCarthy ’18

It seems like Amherst tends to have a high impact freshman more often than not, and McCarthy is that player this season. His jump shot bears a passing resemblance to that of departed guard/forward Killian. He should bring a similar skill set as an athletic slasher and defender who is the college equivalent of the NBA’s 3 and D player. His ability to play from day one is vital given the dearth of experienced guards on the Amherst roster.

 

David George (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
David George (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

F David George

George is a freak of a Division-III athlete. He became a major factor when Pollack (see below) succumbed to injury last year, and only got better as the year progressed. He is a difference maker on defense, where he swatted 80 shots last season, and despite only averaging 23.7 minute per game, he hauled down 5.9 rebounds per contest. He will likely be asked to do a bit more on the offensive side this season, and he should be up for the challenge. George only netted 6.6 points per game but was very efficient, shooting at a 53 percent clip. Get ready for a monster season from the sophomore.

Ben Pollack (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Ben Pollack (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

F Ben Pollack ’16

Pollack is no slouch on the defensive end himself, as he swatted 23 shots in his injury-shortened sophomore campaign, and was even better than George from the floor, shooting 57 percent with 8.1 points per game. With George and Pollack together with all the other big men coming off the bench, teams will have a hard time in the lane on both sides of the court when they match up with Amherst. The 6’8″ Jacob Nabatoff ’17 got the start over Pollack in the season opener, but the two played similar minutes. Expect this division of playing time to continue unless one player separates himself.

 

Everything Else:

The Lord Jeffs are coming off their third straight NESCAC Championship and a Final Four, but were shocked by the Ephs in the NCAAs after topping Williams thrice during the season and NESCAC tournament. They have a lot of talent to replace since Toomey, Kalema and Killian, all double digit scorers last season, graduated, yet Amherst still comes in at number two in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll. The coaching staff expects that they will rely heavily on George and Green to carry the load. It will be interesting to see if the two D-I transfers, Dawson and Conklin, can make an impact from day one. They have flown relatively under the radar but it shouldn’t be long until word spreads about them both.

Junior captain Pollack, recovering from an ACL injury, was cleared not long ago to return to practice, so he may have to work his way back into the rotation slowly, but once he is healthy he will be a force for Amherst. In the meantime, Nabatoff, a face up shooter who can stretch the floor, will get a good chunk of minutes in the front court along with George and Pollack. Despite all the question marks resulting from the graduation of the spectacular 2014 class, Hixon has proven that he is able to reload, not rebuild, and Amherst should be just as much of a player in the NESCAC and NCAA title races as ever.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: 10 Thoughts on the First Games

We wanted to wait until every team had played a game before giving our initial impressions on the first looks that we got of NESCAC teams. It was a whirlwind of a first round of games that played out in the only way we thought it could: unpredictably.

1. Long way to March: One of the things that we harped on consistently during football was how quickly the season goes. Every football game has enormous ramifications. Obviously the same is not true for basketball as teams have months to come together as a team and gel before the NESCAC season begins. Teams as we see them now are going to look very different in a couple of months. Freshmen who barely got off the bench so far will end up influencing the conference race down the stretch while upperclassmen just getting comfortable in their roles will blossom. Do not overreact to a small sample size. Of course, that does not mean there is nothing to takeaway from these games either.

2. Injuries matter…to a point: A major takeaway was that a host of players did not suit up. Hunter Sabety ’17 missed Tufts’ first game but returned last night. Patrick Stewart ’16 will miss significant amounts of time because of a back injury, and Ajani Santos ’16 is out for an undisclosed time with an injury. Those losses all showed in their teams performance somewhat. Yet Keegan Pieri ’15 did not play for Bowdoin last weekend and the Polar Bears barely missed a beat. Pieri will be back this weekend making Bowdoin that much more dangerous, but the lesson is that teams are constructed in different ways. While Bowdoin had the personnel to survive without one of their two returning starters, other teams felt the crunch.

3. Trinity is a big fat question mark: It was surprising to see Trinity give up 83 points in their first game, but anytime your opponent goes 13-27 from three you are going to give up a lot of points. The good news was Trinity still won the game and doubled up UMass Dartmouth on the boards. When Salem State put up 102 on Trinity on Sunday then eyebrows across the league were raised. Known for their suffocating defense, the Bantams allowed Salem State to shoot 56.9 percent from the field and got out-rebounded.  Trinity allowed only 61.4 points per game last year, and with everyone back their defense was supposed to be even better. They should be able to turn things around on that end, but they are not a team built to score 80 points a game so they need to improve sooner rather than later.

4. Losses hurt NCAA chances: On an individual level for each team these losses are not devastating if the teams can turn it around, but the NESCAC’s general struggles could hurt the league when the selection committee meets for the NCAA tournament. The NESCAC is generally a three bid league though it often only gets two teams into the tournament. Everyone knows how much talent left from the NESCAC so there is reason to believe that the league could be down this year. The NESCAC tournament champion gets an automatic bid. If the NESCAC continues to rack up out of conference losses that will make a NESCAC team more likely to be overlooked for an at-large bid.

5. Tufts is an enigma: For those who follow college football, the term Clemsoning is familiar. Clemson always seems to lose one game every season where they far outmatch their opponent in talent level but makes a host of mistakes to get upset. Over on the D3Boards, user lefrakenstein used the term “Tuftsing” to describe how it is almost predictable that the Jumbos are struggling out of the gate despite all of the talent on their roster. Now that they are 0-2, Tufts has to figure out how to put together all of their talent quicker than other teams. They begin conference play against Middlebury and Amherst and cannot afford to lose both of those games.

6. Williams lacks depth: The Ephs have been deeply reliant on their starting five to provide pretty much everything for them so far. Coach Kevin App did a better job last night of managing his players’ minutes, but that was not enough to stop SUNY Oneonta from mounting a large second half comeback that pushes Williams to 0-2. Ryan Kilcullen ’15 has averaged 35 minutes per game after being a secondary role player last year. The freshmen should develop and be able to give the perimeter players time to rest, but Kilcullen will need to play more than 30 minutes a game all season unless Edward Flynn ’16 can deliver on the promise he has shown. Depth is not everything (Amherst basically only played their starters down the stretch last year), but it sure helps.

7. Aaron Toomey’s absence looms large: Of course there was no question that Amherst was going to miss Toomey, one of the most decorated players in NESCAC history, but with Jayde Dawson ’17 transferring in from Division-I, the hope was that the team would adjust its style of play. Dawson struggled mightily in his first game and was benched down the stretch last night, but he should turn things around. Even then he is not the same type of player as Toomey. I did not realize it until I watched Toomey live, but he had this unbelievable skill of being in complete control of the game no matter the circumstances. Reid Berman ’17 looked much more confident than he did last year and was a major reason Amherst came back, but he still had three turnovers including one where the defender simply picked his pocket and scored a layup the other way.

8. Shooting is at a premium right now: One of the reasons for teams struggling to score is futility from the outside. More than half of NESCAC teams are making less than 30 percent of their threes. A lot of that is because the premier shooters in the NESCAC graduated. The top five players from last year in terms of three pointers made all departed from the NESCAC so don’t be shocked if long range shooting is down throughout the year. Percentages should tick up somewhat as players get more comfortable shooting in game conditions.

9. John Swords ’15 is amazing: The seven foot center went out and played what is at this point typical John Swords basketball, averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds on the weekend. Let us clarify that the concerns about his health were very real. Yet that did not affect him this weekend for a very simple reason. Swords got new shoes that he started using this weekend that made the pain in his legs go away. Mind you that these are not special shoes made to alleviate pain or something like that. They are simply new shoes. Swords felt completely confident in his ability to do whatever he normally does on a basketball court this weekend. That is great news for Bowdoin and terrible news for everybody else in the NESCAC.

10. A juggernaut could lurk: My bold prediction during the preseason was that every single team would lose two games in the NESCAC regular season. No regular season conference champion has had two losses since the crazy 2000-2001 season when five teams finished at 6-3 (Hamilton was not in the NESCAC yet). After seeing every team play I stand by that prediction for now. However, given how many injuries Middlebury had this weekend, the fact they still went 2-0 means they had the most impressive weekend of anyone. The Panthers played without Matt Daley ’16, a player many think could be All-NESCAC if he stays healthy. Jack Daly ’18 looks like an instant impact player who gives Middlebury plenty of depth in the backcourt. The Panthers lost a lot of talent,  but the assortment of pieces in Vermont could gel together quite nicely.

Williams Team Preview: The Leftovers Still Ooze with Talent

gowi-a16-williams-defense

Williams Ephs

2013-2014 Season: 28-5 (9-1 NESCAC),  Reached NESCAC Championship game and National Championship game

Head Coach: Kevin App, 1st year

Starters Returning: 2

Dan Wohl ’15

Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15

Breakout player: Edward Flynn ’16

Flynn is a 6’10” lefty center who has good post moves. This year’s team has less height than in the past, especially with the loss of Center Mike Mayer so look for him to get quality minutes down low. Ryan Kilcullen ’15 is more of a faceup player than someone who can go down in the post so Flynn will be an important piece off the bench. He did not play last year because of injury but is healthy now and should contribute.

Projected Starting Five:

Dan Wohl '15
Dan Wohl ’15

G Dan Wohl ’15 – The senior averaged 12.9 points per game and 6 rebounds per game even though he was often the fourth option for Williams on offense. He is also a good defender making him one of the best two way players in the league. Wohl needs to be a force on both ends as he is the best player the Ephs have right now.

 

 

Hayden Rooke-Ley '15
Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15

G Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 – After struggling with injuries for a good portion of his Williams career, Rooke-Ley settled in and had a very productive junior hear. He averaged 10.7 points per game and established himself as a very good perimeter shooter who as the ability to drive the lane.

 

 

 

Mike Greenman '17
Mike Greenman ’17

G Mike Greenman ’17 – The first thing everybody notices about Greenman is that he does not have the normal height for a basketball player.  Very quickly afterward they realize that he is a dynamic point guard. Greenman played more as the season went on and averaged 5.6 points per game. He is a good floor general and spot up shooter,

 

 

Ryan Kilcullen '15
Ryan Kilcullen ’15

F Ryan Kilcullen ’15 – The former Boston College transfer is a skilled big man who can pass and shoot very well but struggled to get time because of the presence of All-American center Mike Mayer ’14 in front of him. Now Mayer is playing in Spain and Kilcullen will have to play major minutes his senior year.

 

 

Dan Aronowitz '17
Dan Aronowitz ’17

F Dan Aronowitz ’17 –The sophomore did not play for much of the year before injuries forced him to make three starts late in conference and acquitted himself well. He proved that he is an athletic wing who can drive the lane and post up on smaller defenders. He will have to grab a lot of rebounds from the power forward position.

 

 

Everything else:

The Ephs suffer major losses on the court due to graduation of Mayer and Taylor Epley ’14 and Division 3 Freshman of the year, Duncan Robinson ’17, transferring to play at the University of Michigan. Coach Kevin App takes over the helm of the program for Mike Maker who decided to accept the head coaching position at Marist. Coach App began his coaching career as an assistant at Williams for the ‘08-‘09 season. Even though, they lost a tremendous amount of talent both on and off the court, the Ephs come in at #5 in the preseason national poll.

Look for the three freshmen, Adam Kroot ’18, Chris Galvin ’18, and Cole Teal ’18, to have larger impacts later in the season as they mentally develop.  Coach App already says that they are physically ready to play. All three are perimeter oriented players who are a little behind on offense. Each one played on Saturday and did not score a point.Front court depth is a major concern. Kilcullen played 38 minutes while Aronowitz was forced to play 35 as well.

If this team is going to make another final 4 run like last year, they are going to need Wohl to have a monster season and be their anchor. Then the guys around him like Rooke-Ley will have to show they are comfortable as primary scorers. Last year Williams was content to score with any team in the country, but it is more likely this year that they will have to defend more consistently if they want to contend. It won’t be an easy first year for App especially early, but this team still has the potential to win the league.

Basketball Season Predictions

The season is upon us today, and our season predictions get you ready for it. We run down the order we think teams will finish and which ones will make the NCAA tournaments. Then we make our predictions for Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

A special thanks to Ethan Drigotas, a Bowdoin student, for doing the editing on the last couple of videos. Hope you have enjoyed the videos and we will have the rest of our previews out today. Here is to the NESCAC teams opening the season by going 10-0 today.

Colby Team Preview: Baby Mules Ready for Primetime

Courtesy of Colby Basketball
Courtesy of Colby Basketball

Colby Mules

2013-2014 Season: 14-11 (4-6), tied seventh in the NESCAC, reached quarterfinals of NESCAC tournament

Head Coach: Damien Strahorn (Colby ’02), 28-45 (.384)

Starters Returning: 5

G Luke Westman ’16

G Ryan Jann ’16

G/F Connor O’Neil ’15

F Patrick Stewart ’16

F/C Chris Hudnut ’16

Breakout Player: Luke Westman ’16

The entire Colby rotation returns so it’s a little misleading to say that one player will breakout. A lot of players should see their numbers see a subtle uptick, but Westman gets the nod because he might be uniquely capable of taking Colby to the next level. The point guard was loathe to look for his own shot and averaged 9.5 points on 5.3 shots per game. He did not make a three pointer all season but hit 78 percent of his foul shots.He was incredibly efficient for a guard, and in fact the only non-big man to shoot over 60 percent from the field in the NESCAC. If Westman can score more points without sacrificing a lot of his efficiency the Colby offense will be hard to stop.

Projected Starting Five:

PG Luke Westman

The junior is a quiet leader on and off the court (and will join the senior, O’Neil, as captain this season), but when he steps on the court he is always in control. His defense is an underrated part of his game. He led the team in steals and tied with Hudnut for second in blocks. His blocking ability is similar to Dwyane Wade as a guard that can go up and get.

SG Ryan Jann ’16

The smooth shooting guard enjoyed a quality sophomore campaign and finished the season second in scoring on the team. He shot a low percentage from the field in large part because he takes difficult shots most of the time. Some of that is because the shot clock is running down and Jann is the best Mule at creating his own shot, but he will have to improve his shooting percentage this year.

G/F Connor O’Neil ’15

A player who has been an integral part of the program since the day he stepped onto campus will be a senior leader on a team made up mostly of juniors. His improvement was a big reason why the team saw an uptick in wins last year. He is also the best perimeter defender in the starting five and will be tasked with taking on the top scorer on most teams.

F Patrick Stewart ’16

He works greatly next to Hudnut down low as a more athletic and dynamic defender. He is no slouch on the offensive end as he was third on the team in scoring. He actually made the most threes and shot the highest percentage from deep. An underrated part of the starting five, Stewart is a big part of what makes the Mules so difficult to guard on offense.

F/C Chris Hudnut ’16

Nobody would describe Hudnut’s game as flashy, but the results are impossible to ignore. The big man expanded his range all the way out to the three point line giving Colby four players who can shoot from deep on the floor at once. Still the most impressive part of his game is down in the post where he has a polished offensive game and made strides on defense. Though he is not a big shot blocker, he fights hard for positioning and rebounds the ball well averaging 8.4 boards per game.

Everything Else:

Last year the Mules managed to sneak up on teams a little bit, but this year teams will go into games ready for a battle. The bench remains the same with Shane Rogers ’15 a vital cog off the bench. He is a solid two way player who hit over 40 percent of his threes in 2013-14. Sam Willson ’16 is the main front court player off of the bench. He brings a similar skill set to Stewart in that he can put the ball on the floor and make threes from the power forward position.

The big area where Colby has to improve is on the defensive side of the ball. Opponents in NESCAC play had some of their best games against Colby. Defending the three point line in particular is of importance given that teams shot 37 percent last year. Look for the Mules to amp up their ball pressure on the perimeter as well.

With an energetic young coach and a core that has had another year to grow together, the potential is there for Colby to jump into the top echelon. Their improvement as the year went along was clear even though they lost a couple of tough games at the end of the year.

As for the bench mob? Some of the integral parts have graduated so it is unclear whether the end of the bench will again engage in such elaborate shenanigans . The idea for the celebrations originated with the players and the coaching staff is content with allowing the team to decide whether to continue or not.

 

One-on-One with Middlebury Senior Dylan Sinnickson

What did we learn from this discussion? The Panthers feel really good about 2014-15. The main contributors are as healthy as ever and a couple of talented freshmen will add a few more weapons to coach Jeff Brown’s arsenal. Middlebury is poised to once again compete with the best for a NESCAC title.

Thanks to Ethan Drigotas for editing and The Road to Salem for footage.

Bowdoin Team Preview: Health is Everything for Polar Bears

Bowdoin Polar Bears

2013 Record: 19-6 (6-4 NESCAC), fourth in NESCAC, reached NESCAC quarterfinals and NCAA tournament first round.

Head Coach: Tim Gilbride, 30th season (414-296, .583)

Starters Returning: 2

F Keegan Pieri ’15

C John Swords ’15

Breakout Player: G Lucas Hausman ’16

Bowdoin’s top reserve from a year ago steps into a starting role that will require him to supply plenty of scoring from the shooting guard position. After only playing 17.2 minutes per game, the lanky junior should see upwards of 30 this year. His strength is getting to the rim, something Bowdoin has not had much of recently, and it is crucial that he again average over 80 percent on his foul shots. Hausman is the all-time leading scorer from his high school with 1750 points so he is no stranger to being a primary option. Yet he also has to be a creator for Bowdoin and improve on his assist/turnover ratio which was less than one last year.

Projected Starting Five:

Bryan Hurley '15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Bryan Hurley ’15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

G Bryan Hurley ’15

Hurley is essentially a returning starter even though we can’t list him as one because he was injured for most of last year. He has now had more than a year and a half to recover from his knee injury and should be good to go, but his minutes might have to be managed over the course of the season. He averaged 9.4 points per game and 8.3 assists per game his sophomore year, and he will need to be the primary creator once again.

 

Lucas Hausman '16 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Lucas Hausman ’16 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

G Lucas Hausman ’16

Already covered him in the breakout player section, but another thing to keep in mind is Hausman’s shooting ability. Though he was efficient from the free point line, he struggled from deep, only hitting 31 percent of his threes. Spacing was crucial for Bowdoin last year so it would hurt the Bowdoin offense if opponents can cheat off him just a step and clog up lanes.

 

 

Keegan Pieri '15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Keegan Pieri ’15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

F Keegan Pieri ’15

Sometimes overshadowed last year because of how others played, Pieri was his usual consistent self last year, but this year will see him in a bigger role. The past two years Pieri was the primary power forward offering range out to the three point line. Because of the roster makeup of this team, he will now play at the small forward position primarily and shoot a lot more threes.

 

 

Neil Fuller '17 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Neil Fuller ’17 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

F Neil Fuller ’17

The sophomore only played 12.1 minutes last year and will have to become a big two way player this year. He offers good size and can surprise you with his athleticism and playmaking abilities on both ends of the floor. He only shot 12 threes last year, but if Bowdoin wants to space the floor around Swords then he will have to get more comfortable shooting from deep.

 

 

John Swords '15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
John Swords ’15 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

C John Swords ’15

He was a revelation last year, anchoring Bowdoin on both ends of the floor but especially on the defensive end where he played well enough to merit Defensive Player of the Year honors. Health will be a concern for him as well. He has been fighting through pain in practice in a couple of places in his lower half, never a good sign for a seven footer. If healthy, there is nobody who teams have to game plan more for in the NESCAC.

 

Everything Else:

Last year was a great season for Bowdoin that saw them compete in close game after close game. Fourteen of Bowdoin’s 25 games were decided by 10 points or less, and all of their losses were by six points or less with Bowdoin having a chance to tie or win the game in the final minute of all but one of those games.

The losses of Matt Mathias ’14, Andrew Madlinger ’14 and Grant White ’14 are big ones, but Hurley and Hausman are both very capable players. Jake Donnelly ’16 will be the third guard, and depending on matchups Coach Tim Gilbride could play three guards at once like he did for much of last year. Donnelly saw last year cut short because of injury and has played very little in his first two seasons.

Last year Bowdoin leaned heavily on their starting five, and the same will be true this year. Forward Matt Palecki ’16 will fight with Fuller for that power forward spot, but it is likely he comes of the bench more often than not in order to supply energy and rebounding. After Donnelly and Palecki the bench is somewhat of a question mark. Forward Jack Hewitt ’17 will get some minutes but there just is not a lot of space in the frontcourt. Guard Blake Gordon ’18 and small forward Liam Farley ’18 look like the two freshmen most likely to see playing time early.

Expect Bowdoin to be behind on defense but ahead on offense when compared to last year. White in particular was a player who allowed the Polar Bears flexibility in its lineups and defensive matchups as he could guard every position from point guard to power forward. Bowdoin wants to play man whenever possible, but expect them to go zone like they did last year for long stretches because Swords is an eraser in the middle. The zone makes it easier for him to stay out of foul trouble but leaves Bowdoin susceptible to teams that can move the ball well.

If last year is any indication, the difference between wins and losses will be trifling in many games. An injury that sidelines Hurley or Swords for a significant portion of the season would be almost impossible to overcome. If those two stay healthy then Bowdoin is fully capable of returning to the NCAA tournament.