How Badly Will the Polar Bears Miss Hausman?: Bowdoin Basketball Season Preview


Tim Ahn '19 is going to need to step it up for Bowdoin this year in the absence of Lucas Hausman (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Tim Ahn ’19 is going to need to step it up for Bowdoin this year in the absence of Lucas Hausman (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Editor’s Note: While 99% of the work on these previews is done by the writers, the projected records for all NESCAC Men’s Basketball teams were decided upon by the editors collectively,  not decisions of the writers themselves. So, if you want to be mad at someone about the record projections, be mad at us. Also, now that the season is under way, treat this as our thoughts on what we’ve seen so far, not just a regular preview.

Projected Record: 3-7

2015-16 Record: 12-11, 4-6; Fell to #2 seed Amherst in NESCAC quarterfinals.

Last year the Polar Bears had to find a way to win without John Swords. This year they’re going to find a way to win without Lucas Hausman. Both of those players have gone on to play professionally in Spain, so they were probably pretty good. Jack Simonds growth will play a large role in the team’s success this year, and with the loss of three key starters, we’ll have to see how the new starters handle the uptick in minutes.

Head Coach: Tim Gilbride, 31 seasons, 444-315 (.593)

Captains: Neil Fuller, Jack Hewitt

Key Losses: Lucas…Hausman

Lucas Hausman was arguably the best player in the NESCAC last year. But now he’s gone. So that sucks.

Jack Donnelly and Matt Palecki were both senior starters last season. Their loss makes Bowdoin a very young team, with just one junior and one senior starter. Palecki led the team in rebounds, and was also good for about 9 PPG on offense.

Those guys started every game when they were healthy.


Guard Tim Ahn ‘19

Tim Ahn '19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Tim Ahn ’19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Ahn’s a sophomore guard from San Diego. He’s quick, and he led the Bears in steals, despite coming off the bench, and averaging 17 minutes per. Ahn and Simmonds will be the assist specialists on the team. The shifty sophomore will have to step up his production this season in the absence of Hausman, especially now that opposing defenses will be able to hone in on Simonds when the Polar Bears have possession.

Guard Liam Farley ‘18

Liam Farley '18 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Liam Farley ’18 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Farley’s a 6’5” junior guard from the Windy City. He’s appeared in just about every game since he got to Bowdoin, but he’ll see a big increase in minutes this year. I wouldn’t say Farley is an elite shooter, but he has the ability to knock down shots from outside when he’s left open. At 6’5”, that is certainly a useful skill for a Bowdoin team in need of some firepower. The squad is definitely going to need Farley to get to the hoop, however, as this will force defenses to sag into the paint, opening things up for Bowdoin’s other shooters.

Forward Jack Simonds ‘19

Jack Simonds '19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Jack Simonds ’19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

The Mainer. Don’t need to say much about Simonds. He can do it all. He shoots, he drives, he plays solid defense – Simonds is a great basketball player. The sophomore has good size, which makes him a difficult matchup for forwards when you mix that size with his athleticism.  Simonds is the reigning NESCAC rookie of the year for a reason, but the Polar Bears need him to avoid a sophomore slump if they’re going to be competitive. While Simonds definitely benefited from being the second option behind Hausman, this leaves room for question: can Simonds be “the guy” in his 2016-2017 campaign? So far, it looks like the answer is yes. Through four games Simonds is dropping 26.8 PPG, highlighted by his 31 points in the season opener against Southern Vermont, a team that made an NCAA appearance last year. He also went for 28 in a close loss to #2 ranked Babson on Sunday. Simonds is the real deal, and definitely a guy to keep an eye on this season.

Forward Hugh O’Neil ‘19

Hugh O'Neil '19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Hugh O’Neil ’19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

O’Neil hails from historic Lexington Mass, and will be counted on for strong defense this year. He’s tall, and he can rebound with the best of ‘em. In just 16 minutes per game, he averaged 5 boards per, so in a starting role, he could be a beast on the glass. Bowdoin lacks size, so O’Neil is going to need to be tough down low for the Polar Bears. He will often be smaller than his matchup, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be a bad matchup. O’Neil just needs to use his quickness to his advantage. We’ll find out more about his offensive game as he gains experience, but look for O’Neil to be a solid player down low for Bowdoin.

Forward Neil Fuller ‘17

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

A senior captain from the Peach state, Fuller will be the elder statesman among the starting five. Jimmy Naismith used a peach basket as the first ever hoop when he invented the game of basketball (I grew up 15 minutes from the Basketball Hall of Fame), so it makes lots of sense that Fuller plays basketball. He’ll bring the leadership. Crazy statistic about Fuller: I once ran into a girl while on a tour of the Jameson Distillery in Dublin who went to highschool with him. Mind bottling. He increased his FG% by 13% last year – hopefully he can shoot above .500 again in 2016-17. Like O’Neil, Fuller is going to need to assert his authority down low on this small Bowdoin team. Their success likely rides on the shoulders of these two forwards, because if they can’t stop opposing post players, Bowdoin is going to have a heck of time against the Trinity/Tufts/Amherst’s of the league.

Breakout Player: Guard Tim Ahn ’19

There’s 25 PPG to replace from Lucas Hausman, 9 PPG from Matt Palecki, and 4 PPG Jack Donnelly, adding up to a total of about 40 points that need to be found somewhere. Ahn is going to play a big role in finding those points, in one way or another. While he was able to gain some good experience last year, Ahn is going to see an enormous boost to his minutes this season, and his ability to handle the pressure of starting in the NESCAC is certainly a question. Bowdoin is relying on Ahn, so hopefully he can find a way to get the job done. He’s currently the third leading scorer on a team that spreads the wealth pretty evenly outside of Simonds, which definitely Bowd(oin)s well for the Polar Bears. 

Everything Else

Simonds was the NESCAC rookie of the year. He’s dirty. The question is, will he be able to repeat, or improve on his 16 PPG season? Did he benefit from Lucas Hausman receiving so much attention from opposing defenses? We’ll see. The big lefty is going to need to figure out how to score on the best defenders in the league, because he is definitely going to get those matchups. Bowdoin needs a strong year out of Simonds. So far, he looks capable, but we’re only four games in remember – it’s too early to ride anyone too high or too low at this point in the year.

The loss of Swords was certainly felt last year, and Hausman’s loss is going to hurt this year as well. Think about this: Hausman holds the single season NESCAC scoring record after his 2015-16 campaign. He averaged 25 PPG. He averaged 6 PPG more than the scoring runner up. That’s kind of insane. Where is Bowdoin going to get the production to make up for Hausman’s absence? The fact is, Bowdoin has not really needed many other scorers for the last few years, and while it certainly would have helped them to, they definitely relied on Hausman to make them a competitive team. Ahn, Simonds, Fuller, O’Neil, Farley…who is it going to be? I think Bowdoin’s best chance at competing for a NESCAC title is if they can roll out a lineup that spreads out the scoring pretty evenly. If the Polar Bears fall into the trap of just getting the ball to Simonds and watching him go to work, they simply will not find themselves in the top of the standings as NESCAC action plays outs.

Blake Gordon ‘18, Jack Bors ‘19, Charles DiPasquale ‘18, Jack Hewitt ‘17 and Richard “Swiss Rick” McCallister ‘18 (Rory was on his high school team and apparently everyone called him this) …. who is going to step up for the Polar Bears and take on the approximately 80 minutes per game lost to graduated seniors? It looks like freshman guard David Reynolds is the first one off the bench for Bowdoin so far, and Gordon has also mixed in with Hewitt and Bors. We’ll see how deep the Bowdoin bench goes as the season wears on.

NESCAC Counseling: Five Talking Points to Diffuse Family Tensions This Thanksgiving

Image result for fighting thanksgiving family
Don’t fight at Thanksgiving, talk about NESCAC sports instead.

Thanksgiving has long been a major danger zone for family arguments, as alcohol, football and repressed anger combine to create the potential for lasting damage. And the current political climate will only exacerbate that danger. No matter which side of the aisle your family members sit on, there will be fights around the table this year. When those fights spring up, you’ll need something to diffuse the tension. That’s where we come in. NESCAC basketball has been helping my dad and I resolve arguments for the last five or six years, and we here at NbN want to help you do the same. Here are five NESCAC basketball storylines from the opening weekend to help distract the table from the inevitable political conflict that will come along with Thanksgiving 2016.


1: Zach Baines’ Jumpshot

Zach Baines
Zach Baines ’19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

The fact that Baines is an important player for Middlebury this year is no surprise. He had an impressive freshman season, and many extremely well-informed figures in the NESCAC basketball analyst community (such as myself) had him as a dark horse All-League candidate. However, the three pointer was not the weapon that we expected him to be wielding so early in the year. In his MVP performance in the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Tournament, Baines averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per game on 60 % shooting. He also took four threes and made three of them, including the dagger in a hotly contested final against host Eastern Connecticut. Jump shooting was identified early in the season as the key to Baines making a sophomore leap, and it looks like he is ready and willing to take over games from the perimeter, as well as defensively.

2: Jack Simonds’ Lucas Hausman Impression

Jack Simonds
Jack Simonds ’19 doing his best Iceman from Top Gun impression here (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Star guard Lucas Hausman got Bowdoin used to having the best all around scorer in the league. But once he graduated, it seemed likely that Bowdoin would take a break from watching people light it up every night. However, sophomore Jack Simonds seems to have other ideas. Simonds put up 60 points in Bowdoin’s opening tournament, on 51% shooting and 38.5% from three. As the only big time scoring threat on his team, Simonds should have his pick of shots throughout the year and has a real chance to lead the league in scoring, picking right up where his illustrious teammate left off.

3: Amherst’s Depth

At my dinner table, this would be almost as distressing a conversation as any political talk, but I guess people in Amherst may enjoy talking about this. National preseason number one, the Purple and White enjoyed their usual easy opening weekend tournament, beating up on Green Mountain and St. Lawrence 83-41 and 90-68 respectively. What stands out about these games though is the balance and depth exhibited in Amherst’s lineup. The leading scorer for the weekend was Michael Riopel, a junior guard who only played 17 minutes per game. Amherst’s starting lineup is experienced and dynamic, led by guards Jayde Dawson ‘17 and Johnny McCarthy ‘18, as well as center David George ‘17. But Riopel, Reid Berman ’17 and Eric Conklin ‘17 give Coach David Hixon many options off the bench. Amherst could concievably run 8 or 9 deep all season, something that is rare among NESCAC teams.

4: Trinity…Yikes

Ed Ogundeko
Ed Ogundeko ’17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

First of all, thank you so much to the Trinity website for not yet updating their statistics from the weekend. I had to do the stats for this column myself, and i’m an English Major! Math is not my strong suit. Anyway, I can excuse them for being slow on that becuase they had a rough weekend in other regards. Trinity went 0-2 in their opening weekend, losing in overtime to UMass-Dartmouth and Southern Vermont. This was not the fault of senior center Ed Ogundeko, who ripped those two teams apart to the tune of 25 points and 16 rebounds per game. Ogundeko was the Defensive Player of the Year last season, but it looks like his offensive game has caught up to his defense in a big way. It was finding him help that the Bantams struggled with over the weekend, as the rest of the team shot roughly 35% from the field, compared to Ogundeko’s 70%. Trinity struggled to score at times last season, and two of their leading scorers, Jaquaan Starks and Player of the Year Shay Ajayi, graduated. They will need more production from players other than Ogundeko if they want to stay in contention with deep teams like Amherst and Middlebury.

5: Colby!

If I gave you three guesses as to which NESCAC team had the most impressive offensive performance of the weekend, I’m willing to bet that Colby wouldn’t have been in the mix. But the Mules kicked and brayed, and averaged 89 points over their two game opening weekend, winning both games. Colby was lights out from three point range at 44% as a team.

Image result for patrick stewart
As if he wasn’t versatile enough, he averaged seven rebounds per game last weekend!

Senior forward and wheelchair-bound leader of a superhero team Patrick Stewart was particularly impressive, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game on 53% shooting from 3. It seemed possible at the beginning of the year that the bottom three teams in the league would be the three Maine schools, but Colby might have more fight in them than we thought.

And That’s a Wrap!: The Final 2016 NESCAC Football Power Rankings

Devon Carrillo '17 was a force for Wesleyan all year long (Courtesy of Steve McLaughlin/Wesleyan Athletics)
Devon Carrillo ’17 was a force for Wesleyan all year long (Courtesy of Steve McLaughlin/Wesleyan Athletics)

1.) Trinity

Well, there weren’t any ‘fluke’ losses this year for Trinity. For those of you NESCAC old timers, yes, I am referring to Bob Smith’s Middlebury football shirts he made in 1992 after Midd went 7-1 to win the league and deemed their only loss to Trinity a ‘fluke.’ There’s simply no argument that can be made against the mighty Bantams here. They are the kings of the ‘CAC and had the success all year to back it up. Spencer Donahue ’17 had a monster year and could easily win Defensive POY as a part of the secondary that terrified opposing QB’s all season. Sonny Puzzo ’18 improved drastically from his 2015 campaign, decimating the TD:INT ratio of last year that was below 1:1 to improve to 16:4. He also made a great case for First Team All-‘CAC. Max Chipouras ran over everybody in his path for the Bantams all year, finding holes and blasting through defenders en route to 910 yards, 5.8 yds/carry, and 7 TDs, only second to Tufts’ Chance Brady. You want to know what their secret formula to winning the league was? Just dominate offense, defense, and special teams. Undefeated.

2.) Tufts

Chance Brady is in the history books. According to Babe Ruth in The Sandlot, legends never die, and in every sense of the word, Brady’s 17 rushing TD season (19 total) is legendary. He won two more Gold Helmets and managed to lead his team to a 7-1 season just two years after breaking a preposterous 31 game losing streak. Despite their resurgent season that only Rory could’ve predicted, they did lose to Trinity and the Bantams showed they had the better team. But last week in Middlebury, VT, Brady couldn’t be stopped, and the Tufts secondary gave Lebowitz all he could handle. They battered him all day and tallied 2 fumbles, 3 INTS, and three painful looking sacks. The Jumbos will still have Ryan McDonald ’19 next year who played well when he started, tallying a 5:1 TD:INT ratio and a crazy 602 yards rushing, good for 5 TDs and 6.2 yds/carry. The Jumbos won’t stop here and the Bantams better watch out, there’s a stampede on the way in 2017.

3.) Wesleyan

In mutual games, Wesleyan largely played better than Middlebury. These two teams were the closest in talent level this season, both losing to Trinity and Tufts for their only losses, knocking off Amherst, and all the other teams that we expected them too. However, the Cardinals blew the Purple and White out, and could’ve easily beaten Tufts in Week 1, and frankly the fact that they went 6-1 in their final games shows that even without any assurance that they could get back into the championship run, they still put a great season together. Puzzo, Lebowitz, and Piccirillo are the top 3 QB’s in the conference and Piccirillo is arguably the best of the bunch. His 10:2 TD:INT ratio and 62.3% completion rate led the league, and he was second in passing yds/game to Lebowitz who benefitted from a system conducive to more passing attempts. Their defense also allowed the least yds/game and put them in a position to win a share of the league championship in the final game. They earned this ranking and nearly earned a ring.

4.) Middlebury

It’s tough for me to put Midd below Wesleyan here as I rooted for them all year and still thought they could win up until the final minutes against the Jumbos. However, the box scores don’t lie—the Panthers barely knocked off Amherst and Trinity rolled right over them. Lebowitz had a great season, especially considering that it was his first season starting in the NESCAC, but slowed down at the end of the year. A big loss to Trinity after a 5-0 start proved to be somewhat of a reality check, and pretty much crushed the Panthers’ hope of going to titletown. However, this team still had a great season, putting up a 6-2 record, and was hurt big time by injuries in the final weeks heading into their two biggest games against Trinity and Tufts. The fire in the hearts of this Midd team showed up in the final minutes against the Jumbos when they frantically put a rally together, sparking hope in the parents and fan section. Diego Meritus ’19 improved on his first season and looks like he could step up to another level next year; Conrado Banky ’19 proved me right in that he is a fast twitched receiving animal; and Lebowitz broke out in a big way. The good news for Panthers fans is that these three guys will be back, and they will be hungry for the ‘ship.

5.) Amherst

Nobody expected Amherst to be fifth on this list at the end of the year, but not even Amherst’s fans could argue for a better ranking. A tough 27-26 loss to Middlebury in week three would spiral the Purple and White’s season out of control, leading to a 2-4 finish. Granted they struggled with injuries all year as both their first and second string QB’s Reece Foy and Alex Berluti were out, Foy for the entirety of the season and Berluti for a large part of it. Some highlights were that they extended their winning streak to a historic 21 games, WR David Boehm had a fantastic senior campaign good for 660 receiving yards and 6 TDs, and the defense held opponents to a league best 79 rushing yards per game. On the positive side, Reece Foy will be back next year, and when he is on the field, he is always a candidate for POY. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but this is the first year Amherst didn’t have a mascot during football season and was also the year that their winning streak ended. Is this the new curse of the Billy Goat?

6.) Bates

This is where the rankings start to get a little trickier. The margins between Bates, Hamilton, and Colby are fairly narrow, as they all played pretty evenly against each other. Bates showed flashes of what is to come with their Sophomore QB Sandy Plashkes who broke off some big rushes despite a lack of passing consistency. Bates took the CBB crown, beat Colby and Bowdoin, and while that isn’t saying too much, they put up a good game against Tufts (12-7 loss) and jumped up to a 9-0 lead against Middlebury. And if they managed to beat Hamilton, they would’ve been tied with Amherst! Throughout the season, I put a lot more faith in the Bobcats than their success warranted, and maybe their season doesn’t deserve this ranking considering they did lose to Hamilton, but based on their games against some of the tougher teams, they are the best of the bottom tier of NESCAC teams.

7.) Hamilton

Continental fans might not be too happy with this ranking since they beat Bates by a considerable margin in week 8. However, that’s not a great selling point when you lose to the other 3-5 team, Colby. Once again, the distance between these 6-8 ranked teams is minimal, and if Hamilton put up a solid performance against any of the top NESCAC teams they would be ranked higher. But there isn’t a great argument to be bumped up when they got absolutely blown out against Middlebury, Amherst, Trinity, and Wesleyan. Mickey Keating ’18 was arguably Hamilton’s best defender with two picks and 72 total tackles to lead his squad, while Colby Jones ’19 also added two INTs, showing what the NY squad’s defense could showcase next year. QB Kenny Gray ’20 had a tough rookie season, but his experience this year should give him a lot to work on and a bunch of improvements going into his sophomore year. This is obvious but if their defense can allow less than 26.9 ppg next year, they’ll have a much better chance.

8.) Colby

Similar to Hamilton, nothing really stands out with the Mules’ season in terms of wins and losses. 3-5 is respectable, sure, but they only competed against Bowdoin, Williams, Hamilton, and Bates. They beat the Continentals but lost to Bates in a close game, and won against the Ephs in what was a poorly played Week 1 game. They did show some real offensive pieces unlike Bates and Hamilton, as Jabari Hurdle-Price ’18 rushed for 91 yds/game and six scores while roping in the most catches (30) on the team. Sebastian Ferrell ‘19 and Christian Sparacio ‘18 looked like Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison at times, especially towards the end of the season. Good news for the Mules is that their QB, top RBs, and top WRs are all staying put for next year, so if Gabe Harrington ’18 or another signal caller can figure it out, they might actually compete against some of the big dawgs.

9.) Williams

I tried to spin off the Ephs as a better team than their record after they played well against Middlebury, but a winless season doesn’t leave a whole lot of positives. Jansen Durham could be a legit QB in the ‘CAC the next few years if he makes a Puzzo-esque transition into 2017; the two are definitely show some similarities in their career trajectory. Do-it-all playmaker Adam Regensburg showed off his athleticism time and time again as he led the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (319), field goals, punts, and points (he also put in time as a DB and a kick returner). CB Ben Anthony also had a promising first season with 44 tackles and 2 picks, showing that he will be a threat to opposing QBs in the years to come, but overall, this team has some work to do. They lost three games by less than two possessions, so if they bring in some more playmakers, they could get over the hump into the win column.

10.) Bowdoin

Well, not a lot to say here. Bowdoin went 0-2 in the CBB series and 0-8 overall, so they pretty much put themselves in this position. Their closest game was against Hamilton in a one point heartbreaker, and other than that, it was a pretty ugly season. The lone bright spots for the Polar Bears, who must be feeling pretty cold right about now, were Joe Gowetski ’20 and Nate Richam ‘20. Gowetski represented the future of NESCAC linebackers with a ludicrous 92 tackles to open up his career, and Richam displayed some promising work out of the backfield. These two will both solid for the winless squad going forward. Better luck next year.

No More Boornazian, How Will the Bobcats Respond?: Bates Basketball Season Preview

Marcus Delpeche '17 is hoping to turn Bates around after their struggles during the 2015-2016 season (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Marcus Delpeche ’17 is hoping to turn Bates around after their struggles during the 2015-2016 season (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

Editor’s Note: While 99% of the work on these previews is done by the writers, the projected records for all NESCAC Men’s Basketball teams were decided upon by the editors collectively,  not decisions of the writers themselves. So, if you want to be mad at someone about the record projections, be mad at us.

The Bobcats were destined to struggle from the start in 2015-2016, as the graduation of point guard and team engine Graham Safford ‘15 was a difficult storm to weather. Despite a stellar season from forward Mike Boornazian, Bates was unable to make waves in an especially deep NESCAC talent pool, finishing at 2-8 in the league and missing the postseason tournament. And unfortunately, 2016-2017 doesn’t look any easier for the Bobcats, as Boornazian has also moved on to greener pastures. Combined with the marked improvements of Hamilton and Connecticut College, Bates is in danger of again finishing towards the bottom of the league.

However, Bates has two tall beacons of hope in the persons of senior twins Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche. Two of the most athletically gifted big men in the league, neither Marcus nor Malcolm has ever quite dominated like they seem to have the ability to. But this season is their last chance. Marcus has consistently shown a wider array of offensive skills, while Malcolm has proved to be more of a defensive and rebounding force. For Bates to have any chance at success this year, both big men will have to become threats on both ends of the court.

Projected Record: 1-9

2015-2016 Record: 10-14, 2-8, did not make NESCAC tournament

Coach: Jon Furbush, 6th year, 104-99 (.512)

Returning Starters:

Forward Marcus Delpeche ‘17 (11.1 PPG, 6.2 REB/G, 55.8% FG)

Forward Malcolm Delpeche ‘17 (8.4 PPG, 6.4 REB/G, 1.1 BLK/G)

Guard Shawn Strickland ‘18 (8.4 PPG, 3.5 A/G, 33.9% 3FG)

Key Losses:

Forward Mike Boornazian ‘16 (15.0 PPG, 5.8 REB/G, 2.9 A/G)

Guard Josh Britten ‘16 (7.5 PPG, 1.1 STL/G, 38.2% 3FG)

Projected Starters:

Guard Shawn Strickland ‘18

Shawn Strickland
Shawn Strickland ’18 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Standing at 5’9” with his high tops on, Strickland is not the most imposing figure on the court. But in an impressive sophomore season, he showcased a variety of skills that make him a key member of the Bates team this season, and next season as well. He averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 assists per game last season after only appearing in five games as a freshman. He even flashed a solid outside shot, hitting 33.9% of his three pointers. In a team that is low on both outside shooting and experience at the guard position, the keys to the offense should be in Strickland’s hands.

Guard Justin Zukowski ‘18

Justin Zukowski
Justin Zukowski (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Bates still has a lot of uncertainty at the guard position leading up to the first weekend of games, but Zukowski is a serious contender for one of the starting spots. Zukowski appeared in 23 games as a sophomore, earning two starts and an increase in playing time as the season went on. The high point of his season came when he scored 19 points (on 5/9 shooting from three) against Trinity on February 6. As I mentioned earlier, Bates has a severe lack of outside shooting, so Zukowski has a major role to play if he can hit shots like he did that day against Trinity.


Forward Malcolm Delpeche ‘17

Malcolm Delpeche
Malcolm Delpeche ’18 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

It can be really tough to be a twin, especially when your brother gains the reputation as “the better twin.” For his whole career, Delpeche has been a step behind his brother Marcus in terms of offensive development. Last season was no different, as he averaged only 8.4 PPG to Marcus’ 11.1, and shot only 46.3% from the field. Both those numbers are lower than Bates would like to see them given his talent. Bates’ offense this season should largely run through the two brothers down low, giving Malcolm more opportunities on offense. His biggest role for the Bobcats is on the defensive end, where he averaged 0.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He is a smarter, more versatile defender than his brother, and is Bates’ truest rim protector.

Forward Marcus Delpeche ‘17


Breakout Player: Forward Marcus Delpeche ‘18

Bates will most likely run their offense largely through the Delpeche twins. And as the more offensively polished of the pair, Marcus should get tremendous offensive opportunities. At times last season he showed excellent footwork on the block, and has had the athleticism and touch to be an elite finisher at the basket. One area in which he needs to improve if he wants to make a first team run (which is within reason) is passing out of double teams. It was too easy last year to force him into turnovers by applying pressure. His defense and rebounding numbers will also need to go up. His brother takes some blocks and rebounds away of course, but Marcus is too often slow on help defense. If he can average 1.5 blocks and 8 rebounds, very reasonable numbers for a player of his skills, he could be a legit first team candidate. And more importantly, Bates could be considerably better than we predict.

Everything Else:

Bates has a very unconventional team for the current structure of the NESCAC. They are short on guards, and led by two big men in Malcolm and Marcus Delpeche. This obviously gives them some advantages, as there aren’t many teams in the league that can match up athletically with that frontcourt. However, even if both those guys become scoring threats inside, teams that have three point shooters will probably outscore Bates pretty consistently. You can’t shoot threes from the low block (Editor’s Note: Fact).

The fifth starting spot for Bates is still up for grabs. It will probably have to be a guard, as neither Delpeche brother is skilled enough to play on the perimeter as a 3. In that case, the starter will most likely be a freshman. Bates has a strong class of guards, all of whom will compete for minutes and possibly that starting spot. Nick Gilpin ‘20 may have the edge given his good size for a guard (6’3”, 185.) There are also several returning candidates to fill out the starting lineup. Quin Leary ‘17 (who I won a Hoop Camp championship with in 2008, no big deal) and Jerome Darling ‘17 would both provide experience at that spot. It may honestly come down to a game time decision between the freshman, Leary and Darling for the final starting spot. Given Bates’s need for perimeter scoring, the decision will probably be based mostly on whoever shows the most offensive firepower over the next couple days of practice.

I want to close this article with a love note to Bates’ Alumni Gym. It is, quite simply, the best gym in the league. Not in terms of quality (in fact, there are several weird dead spots on the court where the ball bounces half as high) but in terms of character and viewing experience. There’s something about Alumni Gymnasium that makes basketball seem purer than other gyms around the league. Maybe it’s the way that a miss off the back rim makes every pipe in the building vibrate, or the brick walls that seem straight out of Hoosiers, but Alumni Gym is in tune with the natural rhythms of the game. That feeling is only exacerbated during the season, when Bates’ loyal fans pack the bleachers, creating the most aggressive fan environment in the league. The insanely close proximity of the bleachers to the court increases the intensity. It’s an incredible experience to watch a game there, and I highly recommend it. Bates has a tough road to climb this year, but improvements from the Delpeche brothers and the unwavering support of their fans could make for some surprises out of the Bobcats.

A Look Back at the 2016 NESCAC Football Season

The Trinity Bantams - your 2016 NESCAC football champs (Courtesy of Trinity athletics)
The Trinity Bantams – your 2016 NESCAC football champs (Courtesy of Trinity athletics)

What. A. Year. Seriously, NESCAC football was absolutely outstanding this year, and an enormous part of that was the competitiveness at the top of the league. We saw plenty of blowouts, but we also saw last second comebacks, epic defensive stands, and back and forth shootouts throughout the past eight weeks. The range of outcomes kept us on our toes throughout the year, and while some teams were much better than others, every team had at least one game that came down the wire, which definitely made things interesting as a fan.

I want to first congratulate Tufts on their first 7-1 season, their best season since 1998. While it’s true that I’m a fan of the Jumbos, objectively, I think that it’s just amazing how far this team has come since my freshman year. I will never forget my first Parent’s Weekend game as a Tufts student. Down by 3 with under a minute to go, Tufts had the ball on the 2 yard line for First and Goal. Deep into their eventual 31-game losing streak, I stood in a crowd of baseball players that were all trying to figure out what to do in the case of what looked to be the first Tufts victory any of us had seen. Well, fate was not on the side of the Jumbos that day, and an interception in the end zone ended their chances of finally adding a tally to the win column. I never imagined that just three years later, Tufts would be 7-1 and the lone team in 2nd place in the NESCAC. Congrats to the Jumbos on a great year.

Middlebury and Wesleyan, two more successful programs of late, kept up their winning ways. After a tough defeat at the hands of Tufts in the night-opener, Wesleyan rolled through the rest of the league, destroying everybody in their path from Weeks 2-7. By the numbers, Wesleyan was right up there with Trinity, and they put themselves in a position to be crowned NESCAC champs with a Week 8 win. Middlebury was also in the running for NESCAC champs in Week 8, but they took a very different path to get there. After blowing out their first two opponents in a display of aerial expertise, Jared Lebowitz and company faced a daunting task in taking on the dreaded Amherst, who were riding into Vermont on their 21-game win streak. Well, the game was an absolute classic, and Middlebury prevailed. Unfortunately, Middlebury was later dominated by Trinity and in a must win game, Chance Brady absolutely dismembered the Panthers, putting Middlebury in a tie for 3rd place with the Cardinals.

That streak-ending loss to Middlebury in Week 3 was the start of a fall from grace for Amherst, who had a disappointing .500 season. I don’t know if it was their lack of mascot or what, but Amherst just couldn’t find an identity this year, and their inconsistent play, especially on the offensive side of the ball, left them with a number of questions heading into the offseason. Luckily for Amherst, Reece Foy will be back next year to retake the reigns under center, a position that proved to be a weak spot for the Purple and White due to injuries and inconsistent personnel.

Bates, Colby and Hamilton were the next three in order. While 3-5 is improvement from 2015 for each of these squads, none of them beat a team with a better record from them. Until one or more of these teams can demonstrate the ability to beat a better team, we will continue to see a league of two tiers. At the bottom of this tier is Bowdoin and Williams, both of whom had disappointing seasons. Neither could ever string together a game where both the offense and the defense played well, it was always one or the other…or neither. Hopefully this year teaches these two squads what they need to do to compete next year.

Am I forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, the juggernauts from Hartford, CT of course! The Bantams were an unstoppable force this year, and there was no immovable rock in the league to counter the multi-faceted attack that Coach Devanney was able to roll out there on offense. Max Chipouras will benefited greatly from the effectiveness of the Trinity passing attack, and Sonny Puzzo reaped the benefits of the sophomore back’s effectiveness on the ground. Darrien Myers and Bryan Vieira proved that they are two of the best wide receivers in the league, and they lit up opposing defenses week in and week out. The Bantams averaged 38.1 PPG this year and it’s absolutely because of how ridiculously talented their offensive weapons were.

However, the scoring numbers for Trinity would not have been as high as they were without the incredible defense they had. Coach Devanney’s defense consistently set up Puzzo and company with terrific field position, and the Bantams frequently capitalized on the short field. Yet it wasn’t just field position that the Bantams provided the offense, Trinity also scored four defensive touchdowns – FOUR!! No other team scored more than one this year. Spencer Donahue, Archi Jerome, Paul McCArthy, Liam Kenneally, Yosa Nosamiefan…the list goes on. This defense was incredible, and they deserve all the credit in the world for their contributions to this powerhouse’s undefeated season.

Finally (and much less importantly), let me apologize for failing to post the writers’ predictions for this weekend. Frankly, I just dropped the ball on it. I’m not an excuse guy but I’ve never had more work in my life than I did last week. Schoolwork, job apps, baseball and blog life ate me up, plain and simple. However, everyone did get their predictions in before Saturday, and here is what they were (the final standings are below):

Trinity @ Wesleyan

Rory: Trinity 30, Wesleyan 24 W

Pete: Trinity 45, Wesleyan 14 W

Liam: Trinity 22, Wesleyan 17 W

Colin: Trinity 33, Wesleyan 30 W

Colby: Trinity 28 Wesleyan 20 W

Sid: Trinity 42 Wesleyan 38 W

Nick: Trinity 38, Wesleyan 14 W

Hamilton @ Bates

Rory: Hamilton 14, Bates 28 L

Pete: Hamilton 7, Bates 10 L

Liam: Hamilton 14, Bates 26 L

Colin: Hamilton 21, Bates 14 W

Colby: Hamilton 10, Bates 17 L

Sid: Hamilton 14, Bates 28 L

Nick: Hamilton 14, Bates 27 L

Williams @ Amherst

Rory: Williams 10, Amherst 21 W

Pete: Williams 13, Amherst 17 W

Liam: Williams 10, Amherst 28 W

Colin: Williams 10, Amherst 35 W

Colby: Williams 10, Amherst 35 W

Sid: Williams 16, Amherst 35 W

Nick: Williams 10, Amherst 31 W

Bowdoin @ Colby

Rory: Bowdoin 7, Colby 21 W

Pete: Bowdoin 0, Colby 30 W

Liam: Bowdoin 13, Colby 17 W

Colin: Bowdoin 17, Colby 14 L

Colby: Bowdoin 14, Colby 17 W

Sid: Bowdoin 12, Colby 16 W

Nick: Bowdoin 19, Colby 20 W

Tufts @ Middlebury

Rory: Tufts 28, Middlebury 21 W

Pete: Tufts 24, Middlebury 30 L

Liam: Tufts 27 Middlebury 24 W

Colin: Tufts 20, Middlebury 27 L

Colby: Tufts 21, Middlebury 24 L

Sid: Tufts 28, Middlebury 27 W

Nick: Tufts 25,  Middlebury 30 L


That leaves the final standings as follows:

1.) Liam (31-4)

2.) Rory (29-6)

3.) Nick (28-7)

3.) Sid (28-7)

5.) Pete (27-8)

6.) Colby (26-9)

6.) Colin (26-9)

Though I’m bitter about my loss, I was taught not to be a sore loser. Congrats to Liam on a great season – a well deserved championship title after 7 weeks of picking games (if we had picked in week 1 I would have beat you).

Coming Back for More: Amherst College Hoops Preview

Amherst took home the sectional championship last year, but fell short to Benedictine in Final Four (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Amherst took home the sectional championship last year, but fell short to Benedictine in Final Four (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Editor’s Note: While 99% of the work on these previews is done by the writers, the projected records for all NESCAC Men’s Basketball teams were decided upon by the editors collectively,  not decisions of the writers themselves. So, if you want to be mad at someone about the record projections, be mad at us.

Projected Record: 8-2

The 2015-2016 season saw the continued maturation of a young Amherst squad from the year before. Buoyed by a pre-season trip to Italy, the team jumped out to a 13-1 start. They rode the hot start through the NESCAC season going 8-2, both losses coming on the road. After taking down Tufts by three points in the semifinal, the Purple and White fell to Middlebury in an epic NESCAC championship, 81-79. Yet Amherst still earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament where they proceeded to win their first two games at home by a combined three points. The third and fourth rounds saw Amherst take down budding rivals Babson and Tufts in a more comfortable fashion. Then, the team traveled down to Salem, Virginia for Coach David Hixon’s 7th Final Four appearance. Much like the NESCAC final, Amherst fell to Benedictine (Ill.) by a bucket.

The only player not returning this year for Amherst is Connor Green ’16. A pure scorer, Green led the Purple and White with 15 PPG. But, as with any volume shooter, there are days where shots are not falling and it can throw the offense out of rhythm. Expect a more balanced scoring distribution this year as virtually anyone Amherst throws out there can score the rock. Defensively, the team is anchored by senior, two-time captain, David George ’17. George is arguably the best rim protector in the NESCAC and continues to polish his offensive game. Sharpshooter Jeff Racy returns along with junior Swiss Army knives Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and Michael Riopel ‘18. Jayde Dawson ’18 is also back with Reid Berman ’17 to split minutes at the point. The depth and talent on this team makes a NESCAC championship and another deep NCAA tournament run strong possibilities. reinforced this notion by ranking Amherst the preseason #1.

Head Coach: David Hixon, 40th year, 767-271 (.738)

Asst. Coaches: Aaron Toomey ’14, Kevin Hopkins ’08, J.D. Ey, Al Wolejko 

Returning Starters:

Guard Jayde Dawson ’18 (11.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.3 APG)

Guard Jeff Racy ’17 (11.2 PPG, 3 RPG, 49% 3PFG)

Guard/Forward Johnny McCarthy ’18 (13 PPG, 6 RPG, 2 APG)

Forward David George ’17 (8.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 60% FG)

Projected Starting Lineup

Qualifier: Given the depth of this year’s Amherst team, they could easily go 8-9 deep with little to no talent drop-off. But, you can only open the game with 5 on the court, so here it is:


Guard Jayde Dawson ‘18

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

A returning starter from last year, Dawson is an explosive player that can both score it, and hound opposing guards in the backcourt. I often liken Jayde Dawson to Russell Westbrook in that he can be by the far the best player on the court, but also, on occasion, the worst. A strong, energetic player he often toes the line between aggressive and reckless. Consistency will be the key for Dawson entering this season, but even a minor improvement from last year is a scary thought for opposing coaches. His size and strength allow him to get to, and finish at the rim. Dawson is also a streaky shooter who can stretch the floor at times but also garner the Rondo treatment when he’s off. A score-first guard, Dawson’s mercurial play can get him in trouble, but his ceiling might very well be the highest on the team. Defensively, he was second on the team a year ago averaging a steal per game. As previously noted, Dawson can make it very difficult for opposing guards to even get the ball past half court let alone get the team into an offense. The experience of last year should help, and a big year could be on the horizon for him.

Guard Jeff Racy ‘17

Jeff Racy '17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Jeff Racy ’17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

When Joel Embiid told the world how he learned to shoot, Jeff Racy may have been in some of the video clips he watched. The senior captain is a classic sharpshooter. He averaged 11.2 PPG a year ago, almost all of which came from behind the 3 point line. He shot it at 48.7% from downtown for the season and was even better in NESCAC play, with a 57% 3-point percentage. Racy added a little strength from the year prior, which allowed him to not only get it done offensively, but defensively as well. He was second on the team in minutes at 30.5 per game. His length allows him to defend multiple positions making it easier to leave him in the game no matter the matchup. Racy’s ability to stretch the floor creates space for other guys to get to the rim or post players to go to work. He figures to be the premier shooter for Amherst, and possibly the NESCAC, again this year. Few things were more entertaining last year than watching Racy get hot and teams frantically trying to take away his air space. While his form is slightly unorthodox, the results speak for themselves. Jeff’s shot is like many things in sports; it’s only weird if it doesn’t work and trust me, it works. Expect much of the same from Racy this year. Also, don’t sleep on Racy going off on February 4th when Amherst hosts Tufts – his younger brother Pat is a freshman Jumbo, and I’m sure Jeff would like nothing more than to bury his little bro’s team.


Small forward Johnny McCarthy ‘18

Johnny McCarthy '18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Johnny McCarthy ’18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Coming off a Freshman of the Year award, Johnny showed virtually no signs of a sophomore slump.  A factor on both ends of the floor, McCarthy averaged 13 points a game to go along with 6 boards.  The 6′ 6″ swingman does a little bit of everything for the Purple and White.  He can score it inside and out, and is often tasked with checking the opposing team’s best player.  Deceptively quick, McCarthy always seems to get his hands on passes and break up the other team’s offensive rhythm.  He has the speed to stay with smaller players and the length to lock up taller players as well.  A common theme among this Amherst squad, Johnny offers versatility both defensively and offensively.  One area of improvement would be jump shooting consistency.  McCarthy can be a streaky scorer with bouts of icy shooting. He’s often able to offset this by getting to the rim and free throw line, but another player to stretch the floor never hurts.  A tireless worker, McCarthy has improved every year.  The decent high school player’s relentless work ethic has turned him into a bonafide NESCAC star.  Do not be surprised if McCarthy shows up on multiple post season award lists.

Forward Jacob Nabatoff ’17

Jacob Nabatoff '17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Jacob Nabatoff ’17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

The only member of the projected starting five that did not start last year, Nabatoff looks to have an expanded role this coming season.  He did start a lone game last year, but averaged only 2.5 PPG in 10.5 MPG.  A potential stretch 4, he has range that extends to the three point line.  It will be interesting to see how Nabatoff’s game develops with more minutes.  He started 29 games his sophomore season and averaged a serviceable 6.3 PPG.  The senior had a 38% 3-point field goal percentage last year, demonstrating his ability to knock down the three ball.  Nabatoff is probably the biggest question mark in the starting line-up, but definitely has the talent and skill set to be a contributor.  There’s something to be said too about being a senior.  I’ve seen it a number of times where players finally hit their stride in the final year.  Look for Nabatoff to be an improved player this season, adding some ever-present depth to Amherst’s front line.

Forward David George ’17

David George '17 (Courtesy of Amherst College Athletics)
David George ’17 (Courtesy of Amherst College Athletics)

A two-year captain, George is in many ways the heart and soul of the team.  The 6’8″ forward anchors the defense and offers a back-to-the-basket threat on the offensive end.  He shot it at just around 60% from the floor last year and looks to expand on his offensive game even more in his final year.  George’s length and athleticism make him an elite defensive presence.  He averaged over 2 blocks a game last year and can be heard barking out commands to fellow teammates when he quarterbacks the defense.  George is also capable of providing an emotional spark, whether it be a big block or thunderous dunk.  Both the literal and figurative backbone of the team, George looks to close out his stellar career with another successful season.  As a strong voice in the locker room, he will also be tasked with fighting the complacency that can follow a successful season.  David George is an established player and you can depend on him to provide much of the same this year.

Breakout Player: Guard Michael Riopel ’18

Michael Riopel '18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Michael Riopel ’18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

I don’t know if you can really consider it a breakout year considering the season that Riopel had a year ago, but he has the chance to elevate his game to another level.  A long, athletic wing, he spent 6 weeks out of his summer working with former Amherst standout and 2013 national champion, Willy Workman ’13.  His goal was to add strength and continue to round out his game, especially on offense.  The 6′ 5″ guard did a little bit of everything last year averaging a tick over 7 PPG, pulling down close to 4 rebounds, and even dishing out 1.3 APG.  Like many other players on this Amherst team, Riopel has the versatility to guard multiple positions.  Offensively, he did not shoot a ton of threes, but was effective when he did, connecting on 41% of his attempts.  Along with the PG Jayde Dawson, the junior swingman adds a slashing element to the offense and displayed the ability to get to the rim.  Coming off the bench, he made the second most free throw attempts on the team.  The added strength should allow the trend of Riopel getting to the charity stripe to continue.  While I think he’ll still come off the bench, that fact has more to do with matchups than ability.  The role also allows the freedom for Riopel to bring added defensive intensity along with instant offense.  If the NESCAC had a 6th man award I would put him at the top of the short list of potential winners, a la ’07-’08 Manu Ginobli.  Fiercely competitive, Riopel, through his hard work, has put himself in a prime position to have a career year.

Amherst hopes to cut the nets down in Salem, VA this year, a feat they haven't accomplished since 2013 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Amherst hopes to cut the nets down in Salem, VA this year, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2013 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Everything Else:

Past performance is not always an indicator of future success, but last year’s tournament run has expectations for this year’s team running high. The team loses only one player from their rotation that ran up to 9 players deep a year ago, and as a result, they received the #1 ranking on  While the team will certainly miss the presence of Connor Green ’16, the offense may find more continuity now that they don’t necessarily have a pure scorer.  In talking with Coach Hixon, some of the challenges this year’s team will face are an expanded roster and contentedness.  The positives however, greatly outweigh the negatives.  I think that even though the team made the NESCAC final and Final Four there is still a sour taste left in their mouths from not bringing home any championships.  Coach Hixon also lauded the leadership on this team both by the seniors and the younger guys as well.  One element about having an expanded roster that can be a bonus is the ability to have competitive practices.  When guys push each other in practice, it makes it that much easier come gametime.

Reid Berman '17 brings some invaluable grit and attitude off the bench for Amherst (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Reid Berman ’17 brings some invaluable grit and attitude off the bench for Amherst (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

The level and depth of talent on this team should make for an exciting season.  Seniors Reid Berman and Eric Conklin round out the rotation from a  year ago.  Berman provides a steady hand off the bench to run the point and lead the team in assists per game in limited action last year.  He provides both leadership and grit while doing all the little things a basketball team needs to be done.  Conklin is an undersized big at 6’6″ but uses his 235 lb frame, excellent footwork, and a soft touch to be an effective inside scorer for Amherst.  Additionally, he is  an excellent screener which allows other guys to get open looks.

The Purple and White open up the season with their annual Ken Wright tournament that should have stronger competition than in years past.  Babson also visits Amherst in December and Coach Hixon said that would be a good test considering the games the two teams have played in the past.  Last year featured a double overtime thriller before a competitive sweet sixteen matchup that saw Amherst win both.  The league should be as competitive as ever, helping weed out pretenders and prepare contenders for postseason play.  One of the benefits of having such a tough league schedule is that it will force Amherst to bring it every night.  Additional home games should also play to the Purple and White’s advantage given their unbeaten record in Lefrak Gymnasium a year ago.  The preseason #1 ranking is a place few coaches want to be because it can lead to additional pressure and complacency.  I don’t think those issues will crop up for this team due to the leadership it possesses.  Ultimately, the team has the talent to be better than they were last year and hopes to take the final step.  A NESCAC championship appearance along with a Final Four run is nothing to sneeze at, but the end goal this season is to close the deal and finish out with even more hardware.



Can the Camels Finally Get Over the Hump?: Conn College Basketball Season Preview

Isaiah Robinson '18 and company are looking to continue the Camels' progression towards the top of the league this season (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics)
Isaiah Robinson ’18 and company are looking to continue the Camels’ progression towards the top of the league this season (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics)

Projected Record: 6-4

While a 3-7 conference record in 2015-2016 wasn’t what the Camels envisioned, they still were just one game out of the NESCAC playoffs and if it weren’t for a couple of late season losses, would’ve made it to the postseason. Conn was 12-12 overall last year, and while there were plenty of more experienced and/or more talented teams in the league, the Camels were able to beat Middlebury 82-81 on January 9th and lost to Amherst a week later on January 16th, 88-86, showing their ability to play up with the best in the league. With that being said, two late losses to Colby and Bowdoin showed the second face of this young team, and just like that they got bounced from the NESCAC playoff race. Conn only graduated one senior, Bo McKinley ‘16, a centerpiece of their team as a leader, and therefore they retain their other four starters, 6th man, and brought in four new freshmen. The Camels need to make great strides from last year in order to have a shot at winning the league championship, but their team chemistry from last year and experience will be a big help.

While McKinley was a starter, he only averaged 7.1 PPG in just over 18 minutes per game, showing the potential for the rest of this Connecticut College squad. Additional minutes should open up for junior guard Lee Messier who impressed in nine starts last year, averaging nearly 14 points in just over 24 minutes per game. He will likely take over the two-spot as the smaller Tyler Rowe ’19 at 5’10’’ should stay as the primary ball handler. Small forward David Labossiere ’19 will return as a second year starter, showing real talent last year after gaining more consistent minutes a few weeks into the season. Labossiere has some shooting ability beyond the arc. Captain Zuri Pavlin ’17 is another returning starter who will play as a small four for the Camels, and was arguably their strongest player last year averaging 8.6 rebounds and 10.1 points per game. Rounding out the big contributing returners is fellow captain Daniel Janel who is a bigger forward than Pavlin, but will likely play as a small center as Conn lacks a true elite big man, and averaged 6 boards and 9.5 PPG a year ago. While they missed out on the playoffs a year ago, they clearly gained valuable experience and should start the year in the middle of the pack as dark horses to rise up in what is shaping up to be a dominant conference.

2015-2016 Record: 12-12, 3-7, 9th place in the NESCAC, one spot from the NESCAC playoffs

Coach: Tom Satran, 15th season, 136-197 (.408)

Returning Starters:

Guard Tyler Rowe ‘19 (12.8 PPG, 3.3 REB/G, 3.9 A/G)

Forward David Labossiere ’19 (11.3 PPG, 3.6 REB/G, 51.0% FG)

Forward Zuri Pavlin ’17 (10.1 PPG, 8.6 REB/G, 47.9% FG)

Forward Daniel Janel ‘17 (9.5 PPG, 6.0 REB/G, 53.3 % FG)

Key Losses:

Guard Bo McKinley ‘16 (7.1 PPG, 1.2 REB/G, 1.3 A/G)

Projected Starting Lineup:

Guard Tyler Rowe ‘19

Tyler Rowe '19
Tyler Rowe ’19 (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics)

Rowe graced the ‘Faces in the Crowd’ section of Sports Illustrated last January after hitting back to back game winning shots against Middlebury and City College of New York, no small feat for any athlete. This shot him into the hearts of all Camel fans and fans of undersized basketball players. The 5’10” Rowe started as a freshman and certainly held his own against what has to be the best D3 competition in the nation. After all, four NESCAC teams went to the NCAA tourney last year. Four! While the point guard’s competition isn’t going to be getting easier this year, as a smaller player, he is less reliant on dominant physical ability and more on skill, so knowing the competition, the league, and individual opponents should help his game. Look for his assist numbers and shooting percentage to go up as he should begin to take smarter shots. He clocked in 27.8 minutes per game and started 22/24 contests during the 2015-2016 season; Rowe should take big strides towards the upper echelon of pg’s in the NESCAC this year.

Guard Lee Messier ‘18

Lee Messier '18 (Courtesy of Conn College)
Lee Messier ’18 (Courtesy of Conn College)

Messier was in and out of the starting lineup last year, starting 9/18 games that he played in, right behind the aforementioned McKinley. With McKinley gone, Messier should be a big part of what the Camels do this season. There is currently still competition for the 5th starting spot as Coach Satran wouldn’t reveal his replacement for the graduated captain, but with four new players coming on the Camels’ roster and Messier likely gaining additional minutes with the hole in the lineup, Conn looks pretty well-off right now. Messier didn’t start over Bo last year, but he averaged nearly six more minutes per game than him in the games both played in. Messier showed flashes of dominance against two of the best teams the ‘CAC had to offer last season. Against Middlebury and Amherst, Messier put up 19 and 17 points respectively, shooting 66.7% and adding on several three pointers. He is a big X-Factor from the shooting guard position, and enters his junior season with similar numbers both of his first two years, showing that he will likely put up 13-15 PPG and inch closer to a 50% FG% as he matures as a player.

Forward David Labossiere ‘19

David Labossiere '19 (Courtesy of Conn College)
David Labossiere ’19 (Courtesy of Conn College)

Similar to Rowe, Labossiere took on the league as a freshman starter and held his own. He emerged as one of the top newcomers in the conference at the two, registering 11.3 points and 3.6 boards a game. His athleticism isn’t to be questioned as the high flying small forward can jump out of the gym. Early on last season Fox Sports put him down as a contender for dunk of the year with a nasty and-one finish on an alley-oop against Roger Williams last November. The 6’4’’ forward should throw down some sick dunks, pin jobs, and other exciting plays for the Camels, transforming into a big playmaker in his sophomore season. If I went to Conn I’d go to the games just to watch this guy play.

Forward Zuri Pavlin ‘17

Zuri Pavlin '17 (Courtesy of Conn College)
Zuri Pavlin ’17 (Courtesy of Conn College)

As stated earlier, Pavlin had the best year by the numbers on a young team a year ago. His 8.6 rebounds per game led the team and were good for second place in the conference behind Trinity’s Ed Ogundeko ’17. Pavlin has a career total of a whopping 719 rebounds and lies just 112 boards behind the program leader, Peter Dorfman ’84, to become the program’s all-time leader. The captain power forward had even better defensive and offensive numbers his first two seasons and played nearly five less minutes per game last year. If he gets back to where he was sophomore year, he would push for the league lead in boards per game, and should average nearly a double double. A down year for him numbers-wise was still beastly, however, and there is more potential here for Pavlin heading into his senior season. Look for him to build on his past experience and dominate in the paint this season.

Forward Daniel Janel ‘17

Daniel Janel '17 (Courtesy of Conn College)
Daniel Janel ’17 (Courtesy of Conn College)

First year captain Daniel Janel finished his second season last year after leaving Adelphi in the Northeast-10 conference in Division II. Janel averaged 9.5 PPG and 6.0 REB/G last year after only putting up 4.1 PPG and 3.1 boards per contest his first year at Conn. These two very different slash lines are indicative of hard work, improvement, and familiarization at the D3 level. He posted the seventh highest field goal percentage in the NESCAC at 53% from the field and should be a force in the paint again this season. The 6’5’’ senior is definitely undersized as big men go, but the help from Pavlin underneath should provide ample distribution of boards to both, making it tough on opposing teams. The third year of play between these captains should contribute to more improvement in communication down low, and each could be in the running for All-NESCAC accolades come the season’s end.

Breakout Player: Forward David Labossiere ‘19

As mentioned before, this guy is really athletic. He seems similar to Middlebury’s Zach Baines in that each is a big threat to dunk, and both put up great freshmen seasons as small forwards. Labossiere should make strides to find more opportunities to shoot. His performances against Middlebury and Amherst were big keys for me as they show what he can do against the best in this league. He led his team in the first half against the Final Four team from Western Mass, going 5-5 from the field. Shooting percentage wasn’t a problem for him last year as anything above 50% is pretty solid, so if he finds more openings (which usually comes with experience), he should put up some (La)boss(iere) numbers. When researching Conn’s team, I couldn’t help but watch Labossiere’s highlight tape and it was pretty impressive to say the least. Yeah a lot of basketball players can dunk, but Labossiere has style and ease when he plays, and I think he’s about to take it to a whole ‘nother level.

Everything Else:

Coach Satran mentioned how the Camels need to adjust to the little things more than last year, and will need somebody else to step up as the 6th man with Messier likely entering the starting lineup. Conn should have depth with their already solid bench and four new recruits, and I suspect they will start the year in a much better place than 2015. The NESCAC is tough in terms of competition and the key for this developing team is “consistency.” Satran’s team knows that they can do it—they came within two points of upsetting Amherst in what was one of the best games of all of last year, and beat Middlebury. They also lost narrowly to Tufts at home in January, which would have been a huge momentum builder for the Camels. On the flip side, as I mentioned earlier, they lost to Colby and Bowdoin consecutively to end their season.

The high ceiling for the young Conn guards leaves a lot of room for growth, and they are anchored by Pavlin and Jalen down low. What helped the Camels last season was Messier’s presence right behind McKinley, acting as a great sixth man. This is going to be another essential for Conn going into the season—finding strong players deeper in their lineup to supplement their starting five. Satran will likely look to his youth for the backup as his squad starts to come into their own in the NESCAC. 6’5’’ Isaiah Robinson played in 20 games last year, averaged just over 15 minutes per contest, and has experience as a starter from his freshman year. He should be a valuable piece off of the bench for the Camels, bolstering their already strong big men. The Camels showed flashes of what was great basketball last season, but clearly couldn’t bring their A-game every night. They should improve in their consistency as they have nearly the same team as last year, but only time will tell if they will play down to weaker opponents. The top of the league should keep their eyes on the Camels as they push from the bottom up this year. The talent is there, but the question will be: can the Camels play to their full potential consistently?

Put It Over the Fireplace: The Postseason Awards Blog

Darrien Myers and Trinity ran away with the title this weekend in Hartford (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Darrien Myers and Trinity ran away with the title this weekend in Hartford (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

First of all, congratulations to Trinity on an amazing season. In a league that featured four real threats to win the NESCAC title this year, Trinity was dominant from start to finish. The Bantams had the most consistency of any team, and it was this consistency that brought the championship trophy back to Hartford. This marks Trinity’s 7th 8-0 season in the current format, with Amherst and Williams being the only two other schools to put together perfect seasons. Congrats Trinity on another phenomenal season. We’ll discuss your accomplishments in greater depth tomorrow, but for now, let’s get to the awards.

The actual awards will be coming out presently, so these are less of a blog necessity and more of an excuse for Rory and I to talk about NESCAC football all day on a Sunday instead of doing homework. The main evidence that we used to make our decisions was statistics, as our biggest weakness as bloggers is our inability to watch every game at once. However, we also tried to spread the wealth fairly evenly throughout the league. There is of course a natural bias towards more successful teams (better teams tend to have better players), but we looked to get every school represented. The toughest call was probably QB, as Middlebury’s high volume passing attack led to Jared Lebowitz having by far the highest numbers. But we couldn’t overlook Puzzo’s consistency and performances in big games.  As always, any complaints can be directed to our “Suggestion Box.”

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We recycle our suggestions here at Nothing But NESCAC.

First Team Offense:

QB: Sonny Puzzo (Trinity)

(16 TD, 4 INT, 186.5 YD/G, 60.1)

RB: Chance Brady (Tufts)

(17 TD, 1099 YD, 137.5 YD/G, 5.4 Y/A, 0 fumbles lost)

RB: Max Chipouras (Trinity)

(7 TD, 910 YD, 113 YD/G, 5.8 Y/A)

WR: Conrado Banky (Middlebury)

(925 YDS, 115.6 YDS/G, 12 TD)

WR: Darrien Myers (Trinity)

(485 YD, 69.8 YD, 8 TD)

WR: Bo Berluti (Amherst)

(498 YD, 62.3 YD/G, 8 TD)

WR: Devon Carrillo (Wesleyan)

(349 YD, 49.3 YD/G, 13 TD *twelve rushing*)

TE: Bryan Porter (Bowdoin)

(310 YD, 14.1 Y/C, 2 TD)

OL: Chris Simmons (Trinity)

OL: Joe Wilson (Wesleyan)

OL: Beau Butler (Wesleyan)

OL: Joe Farrah (Trinity)

OL: Gian Calise (Tufts)

First Team Specialists

PK: Eric Sachse (Trinity)

(13-13 FG, 38-38 XP)

P: Justin Foley (Bates)

(81 P, 37.9 Y/P, 20 IN20)

RET: Darrien Myers (Trinity)

(9 KR, 22.7 Y/KR, 1 TD, 17 PR, 14.6 Y/PR)

First Team Defense

DL: Tyler Harrington (Bates)

(34 TKL, 6.5 SCK, 9 TFL)

DL: Micah Adickes (Tufts)

(32 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 5.5 TFL)

DL: Robert Wood (Middlebury)

(28 TKL, 5 SCK, 9.5 TFL)

DL: Patrick Fabrizio (Bowdoin)

(19 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 7.5 TFL)

DL: Jordan Stone (Wesleyan)

(26 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 7 TFL)

DL: Niyi Odewade (Amherst)

(32 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 9.5)

LB: Mark Upton (Bates)

(87 TKL, 7 SCK, 14 TFL, 1 INT)

LB: Greg Holt (Tufts)

(98 TKL, .5 SCK, 6 TFL)

LB: Parker Chapman (Amherst)

(66 TKL, 2 SCK, 2 FF, 1 INT)

LB: John Jackson (Middlebury)

(61 TKL, 7.5 SCK, 11.5 TFL, 2 FF, 1 INT)

DB: Spencer Donahue (Trinity)

(46 TKL, 3 SCK, 3 FF, 2 INT, 5 Break-ups)

DB: Tim Preston (Tufts)

(28 TKL, 5 INT, 6 Break-ups)

DB: Ian Dickey (Colby)

(52 TKL, 1 FF, 3 INT)

DB: Kevin Hopsicker (Middlebury)

(37 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 INT)

DB: Nate Taylor (Wesleyan)

(19 TKL, 1 TFL, 3 INT)

DB: Joe Frake (Bates)

(43 TKL, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT)

Offensive POY: Running Back Chance Brady ‘17  (Tufts)

Chance Brady
Chance Brady ’17 (Courtesy Tufts Athletics)

If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of picking Brady for this award, just ask any of the corpses he left strewn all over Middlebury’s field on Saturday. Middlebury and Tufts’ matchup had tremendous championship implications, but it also effectively decided the Offensive POY race. Brady and Jared Lebowitz were the two front runners heading into the game. Lebowitz struggled in the first half before mounting an impressive comeback in the second, and Brady absolutely buried the Panthers throughout afternoon. He had five total touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving), including three in the decisive second quarter that saw Tufts take a 34-7 lead into halftime. Brady eviscerated the entire league this season, and his work put him in the NESCAC history books – on Saturday, Brady set the record of most rushing touchdowns in a single season with 17. What a stud.

Defensive POY: Defensive Back Spencer Donahue ‘17 (Trinity)

Spencer Donahue
Spencer Donahue ’17 (Courtesy Trinity Athletics)

It is the mark of a truly great defensive back when they can have an impact on the activity in the backfield as well as in coverage, effectively putting their finger on the pulse of the game in all areas on the field. At times this season it seemed like there were three or four Spencer Donahues running around all over the field; that’s how dominant he was from the safety position. He was particularly effective at getting into the backfield, recording three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Donahue wraps up a tremendous career with an 8-0 season, and we think he should take home some personal hardware as well.

Rookie of the Year: Greg Holt ‘20 (Tufts)

Greg Holt
Greg Holt ’20 (Courtesy Tufts Athletics)

As one great defensive player leaves in Donahue, another one rises up in Greg Holt. Holt led the entire league in tackles with 98, and was the centerpiece of a defense that helped the Jumbos surprise many in the league and finish at 7-1. Early in the season Holt didn’t really get into the backfield, recording no sacks or forced fumbles in the first four games of the season despite 14 and 20 tackles in his first two college games. However, something clicked in the second half of the year, and Holt tallied .5 sacks and six tackles for loss over the final four games. Holt gives the Jumbos a player to build a defensive dynasty around.

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There is no relation between Greg Holt and Steve Holt…that we know of.

Coach of the Year: Jeff Devanney (Trinity)

Not a very tough call here. If your team finishes 8-0 with an average margin of victory of over 24 points, your status as coach of the year is pretty hard to argue. Trinity was the best team wire to wire this season (even though it took a couple weeks for the geniuses over at NbN to put them at #1 in the power rankings), and look poised to continue their run next year.

An Ungodly Amalgamation of Styles: Week Eight Weekend Preview

Trinity Vs. Wesleyan Football
This picture is from several years ago, but Trinity and Wesleyan meet again tomorrow in the game that decides most of the championship scenarios. Also, this is a really fly picture. (Courtesy Hartford Courant)

Here we are, the final weekend preview of the season. It’s been a lot of fun tag-teaming these posts with Rory; he does a nice job of making my writing look better by forcing terrible puns. We did it one last time this weekend, with Rory analyzing the championship scenarios for each of the top teams, while I handled the games in the bottom of the league in a more traditional weekend preview style. Think of this as a “Post-Modern Preview,” a pastiche of different styles that ultimately reflects the chaos and unreliability of NESCAC football and the insane lack of a head-to-head playoff system.

Championship Scenarios:

Trinity – I think it’s pretty clear that the Bantams need to win to take home a solo championship belt. No one else has a 7-0 record, and only 3 other teams have the potential to end the season with a 7-1 record, so Trinity will be NESCAC champs no matter what. But that right there is the trap for Trin. If they play this game to not lose instead of playing it to win, Trinity will be in trouble. And guess what, Wesleyan is waiting for just that. The Bantams have an opportunity to finish out another undefeated season tomorrow, but they have to come out flying if they want to be the lone champions of the NESCAC this year

Wesleyan – also pretty obvious, Wesleyan needs to win in order to become NESCAC champs. The Cardinals’ last win against Trinity came in a 20-19 battle back in 2014 when Wesleyan finished in a 3-way tie for first place. If Mark Piccirillo can will his team to a win this weekend, they will once again prompt a 3-team tie for first place. I’m going add in my two cents here: the fact that head-to-head is irrelevant in the NESCAC football standings is bananas. Mix in some common sense over there at NESCAC HQ so we don’t have 3 champions every other year.

Middlebury – while the Panthers need to win in order to be in consideration for a championship, they will need a bit more help than that on Saturday. Midd also needs a Wesleyan W. Not too crazy, right? But Middlebury needs to take on the Jumbos, and Wesleyan needs to beat Trinity, so Middlebury winning a championship is a little easier said than done. They’ll surely try to beat Tufts via aerial attack, but Jared Lebowitz better be careful if he throws to his man Conrado Banky, as he will likely be matched up with Jumbo ball-hawk Tim Preston. This should be a thriller.

Tufts – same thing here for the ‘Bos, they need a Wesleyan win and a win of their own. No easy task, Middlebury is a solid squad, but the Panthers also struggled defending the run against Trinity a couple weeks ago. Maybe Chance Brady can take Tufts to the promised land? Regardless, a 7-1 season for a Tufts team that had lost 31 games in a row just two years ago would be pretty unbelievable. You can bet Brady and crew will be fired up for this matchup

The Best of the Rest: Lower Tier Games in Week Eight

Hamilton at Bates, 12:00 PM, Lewiston, Maine

Bates has quietly been on a real tear to end the season, overcoming a slow start to be within one win of finishing .500. Sure, they haven’t exactly been playing the Dillon Panthers lately (their wins are over Williams,

Matt Golden
Matt Golden ’20 gives the Bobcats a weapon out of the backfield. (Courtesy Bates Athletics)

Bowdoin and Colby) but they also only lost 12-7 to Tufts, who has a chance now to finish tied for the league championship. Bates may have discovered a new offensive weapon last weekend in Matt Golden ‘20, who passed for 50 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown. Golden offers a valuable change of style from starter Sandy Plashkes ‘19, whose penchant for big plays is often overshadowed by a lack of accuracy. It will be interesting to see how much Golden plays this weekend. If he has another strong week, Bates will have a fascinating quarterback battle brewing next season.

Hamilton, on the other hand, has been something of a disappointment this season. At the beginning of the season they seemed primed for a big step forward this season, and they have had some impressive performances. But the Continentals have ultimately been unable to shake the stink of the last few seasons. A road win here would be nice way for Hamilton to close the season, but Bates has all the momentum. I see Bates finishing this season off strong at home.

Williams at Amherst, 12:00 PM, Amherst, Massachusetts

It’s strange to write about NESCAC’s fiercest rivalry when neither team is in contention for the league title. However, this may well make for an even more exciting game. Both these teams are playing for nothing but the glory and bragging rights that come from winning this historic match-up. To me, that’s thrilling. These teams will be unhinged, with nothing but animal intensity to guide them. Amherst should have the edge in this game on paper, despite all their injuries. But games are not played on paper, and Amherst has been reeling, losing three in a row including a crushing loss last weekend to Trinity in which they blew a 14-3 lead in the second half. Williams, of course, comes in on a seven game losing streak. But if they can perform like the did for the first three quarters against Middlebury earlier this season, when they were only trailing 28-23, they have a chance to turn this from a disappointing season for Amherst to a truly disastrous one. And one can only imagine how gratifying that would be for the Ephs during this difficult year of transition.

Bowdoin at Colby, 12:30 PM, Waterville, Maine

Sebastian Ferrell
Sebastian Farrell ’19 has been burning secondaries all year, and should do the same to the Polar Bears on Saturday. (Courtesy Colby Athletics)

The final game of the CBB series features two teams who are looking for their first CBB win. Colby comes in having lost two in a row, including a demoralizing 21-19 defeat to Bates. However, the last two games have seen a rise in the star of wide receiver Sebastian Farrell ‘19, who has put up over 285 yards in the last two weeks. Bowdoin, of course, has been consistently the worst team in the league, especially on defense, where they give up over 450 yards and 35 points per game. This is not the sexiest game on paper, but we have a chance to see a real explosion out of Farrell, possibly catapulting him into All League team consideration.

Home is Where the Heart Is: Middlebury Basketball Season Preview

Image result for middlebury basketball
Middlebury will look to recreate this picture in the 2016-2017 season.

Editor’s Note: While 99% of the work on these previews is done by the writers, the projected records for all NESCAC Men’s Basketball teams were decided upon by the editors collectively,  not decisions of the writers themselves. So, if you want to be mad at someone about the record projections, be mad at us.

Writer’s’ Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I love Middlebury Basketball more than I do several of my relatives. I try my best to write every article without bias, but I may slip up.  Feel free to let me know if I do!

Projected Record: 8-2

Middlebury enjoyed a return to glory in 2015-2016, winning the league championship just a year after failing to make the tournament. The Panthers overcame a slow start in non-conference games (they were just 6-6 entering NESCAC play) and an insanely uneven home/road split.  The Panthers only played eight home games all of last season.  Eight!  They were home less than Lucas’ parents in Stranger Things. Anyway, the Panthers’ success was largely due to the stellar play of senior guards Matt St. Amour ‘17 and Jake Brown ‘17, as well as the emergence of junior forward Adisa Majors ‘18. Majors and St. Amour both mirrored the Panthers’ season: they struggled early in the year before turning it on in NESCAC play. St. Amour was honored with First Team All NESCAC and Second Team All Region hardware, while Majors was content to just get his job done with very little fanfare.

Luckily for the Panthers and unluckily for the rest of the league, the Panthers return nearly all of the team that came within two points of reaching the NCAA quarterfinals. Center Matt Daley was a force in the middle for the team when he was on the court, which was not extremely often, but his absence should open up minutes for talented young forwards Zach Baines ‘19 and Eric McCord ‘19, as well as freshman Matt Folger ‘20, who has impressed in training camp.  Middlebury’s strength is of course in their backcourt, where tri-captains St. Amour, Brown and Jack Daly ‘18 bring leadership, experience, defensive intensity, scoring and really any other buzzword you can think of that a basketball team needs. The Panthers are both experienced and youthful, stout defensively and explosive on offense, and should enter the season as strong candidates to repeat as league champions.

2015-2016 Record: 18-11, 6-4, won the NESCAC Championship, lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament

Coach: Jeff Brown, 20th year, 309-185

Returning Starters:

Guard Matt St. Amour ‘17 (19.5 PPG, 5.2 REB/G, 2.3 A/G, 40.1% 3PT)

Guard Jake Brown ‘17 (10.0 PPG, 5.1 A/G, 1.6 STL/G)

Guard Jack Daly ‘18 (7.1 PPG, 4.8 A/G, 1.6 STL/G)

Forward Adisa Majors ‘18 (7.2 PPG, 3.8 REB/G, 55.4% FG)

Key Losses:

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“Bruh, THOSE shoes with THAT uniform? C’mon now.” Middlebury will miss both Connor Huff’s contributions on the court and his keen and sassy fashion sense off of it.

Forward Matt Daley ‘16 (11.7 PPG, 7.4 REB/G, 57.8% FG)

Forward Connor Huff ‘16 (4.7 PPG, 3.4 REB/G, 0.4 BLK/G)


Projected Starting Lineup:

Guard Jake Brown ‘17

Jake Brown
Jake Brown ’17 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

For most of his career, Brown has been heavily underrated among NESCAC basketball analysts (us here at NbN included) due to his lack of scoring punch. An inconsistent jump shot kept Brown’s scoring numbers down, which often plays an unfortunately large role in determining postseason accolades in the NESCAC. But any observer of the Panthers over Brown’s career will know that his ferocious on ball defense and relentless pace have pushed the Panthers to become the explosive team they are today. There have been so many times where a team’s point guard has made a few nice plays, and Brown simply turns up the intensity and makes him look like Michael J Fox BEFORE he becomes the Wolf in Teen Wolf. Crucially, his fast pace and flashy style have not translated to an excessive amount of turnovers. His 2.6 A/TO ratio was among the best in the league, which is amazing considering the risks he takes with the ball. As you will learn from any five minute conversation with Brown, he needs to average 15 PPG and 6 assists to end the year with both 1000 points and the Middlebury assists record. If he can improve his jumpshot even further, driving lanes with open up for him as defense have to play him further out. Combine this with an increase in scoring chances due to the departure of Matt Daley, and those statistics are not out of the running. And neither is his long sought after NESCAC First Team Appearance.

Guard Matt St. Amour ‘17

Matt St. Amour
Matt St. Amour ’17 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Quick story about Matt St. Amour: His and my respective small Vermont high schools played each other twice a year during our careers. We weren’t exactly rivals on the court (he scored over 2,000 points and I think my grand total added up to somewhere in the 30-35 range) but I always secretly enjoyed watching him, even though he had a tendency to light us up. During our senior years, my high school was enjoying a pretty solid season, while Matt’s team was riding entirely on his shoulders. We entered our game against them with total confidence that we would win. Matt tossed up a triple double with a stat line of 43-12-15 and 6 steals. And those numbers don’t even do justice to how well he shot in that game: he was throwing up shot from the top row of the bleachers and finding nothing but the net. We did not win, but we did all leave with tremendous respect for Matt St. Amour. NESCAC teams probably left last season with a similar feeling, as St. Amour averaged nearly 20 points per game, to go along with five rebounds, three assists and a league leading 2.1 steals per game. He gained a reputation as something of a streaky shooter from inside the arc, shooting only 40% from the field, but from three he was deadly at 41%. And to go beyond those numbers, he was very rarely open as the only true outside threat on the court for Middlebury. Many of his shots were heavily contested, and he showed a definite knack for making the play that turns out to win the game (or literally does, as his buzzer beater against Skidmore shows.) St. Amour belongs on a very short list for POY contenders, and I like to think that he warmed up for it by lighting up the Middlebury Tigers. You’re welcome, Matt.

Guard Jack Daly ‘18

Jack Daly
Jack Daly ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Rounding out the trio of guards is Jack Daly. This is going to sound like I’m plagiarizing Dick Vitale when he talks about any Duke players, but Daly is truly one of the toughest, smartest guards in the league, and one of the strongest with the ball as well. Armed with an ugly (but more effective than it looks) jumpshot and a variety of tricky change-of-pace moves with the ball, Daly proved himself towards the end of the season to be effective at getting into the paint and drawing fouls or dishing out assists. He also drastically improved his finishing at the rim over the course of last season, shooting 44.5% from the field, pretty good for a guard who struggled to hit outside shots. Daly’s greatest asset to Middlebury, however, is his rebounding. He averaged 5.8 rebounds per game during the regular season, and ten per game during Middlebury’s final four playoff games (the two NESCAC tournament games and then the two in the NCAA’s.) Daly’s prowess on the boards is what allows the Panthers to get away with starting three guards, two of whom are not tremendous outside threats. Daly can play much larger than his size on defense and run the offense to perfection, making him possibly the most valuable player on the team.

Forward Zach Baines ‘19

Zach Baines
Zach Baines ’19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

I’m going to talk more about Baines in the next session of this preview, but here’s the lowdown: Baines has the potential this season to be one of the most destructive defensive forces in the league. Middlebury plays frantic defense that is predicated on the three guards pressuring intensely on the perimeter. A side effect of this style is that it can lead to guards breaking the pressure and getting to the basket. That’s where Baines comes in. His wingspan, athleticism and timing make him a deadly rim protector for the Panthers, which is an area that they have struggled in ever since the graduation of Ryan Sharry in 2011. He is also quick enough to switch onto guards on the pick and roll, making him a deadly defensive weapon. He is no slouch offensively either, but I will discuss that more below.

Forward Adisa Majors ‘18

Adisa Majors
Adisa Majors ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

At the beginning of last season, Majors was solidly glued to the to back end of the rotation. By the end of the season he was throwing up 15-10 in NESCAC playoff games and basically just bullying smaller chumps in the post a la Boogie Cousins. What happened in that space in between? Firstly, Majors quite literally worked his butt off. He didn’t lose any strength, which is the key to his game, but his physical condition improved to the point that he could chase every rebound with tremendous abandon. Secondly, he got a little lucky. Several of the forwards who began the season ahead of him on the depth chart, such as Nick Tarantino ‘18 and Eric McCord ‘20, played inconsistently enough that Majors simply ate up their playing time. Matt Daley also missed some time, giving Majors his original chance to start. Majors’s game can best described as “delicate chaos.” He careens around the paint like a bull sometimes, leaving bodies of his teammates and opponents alike in his wake. However, he also has a soft touch around the rim and from the line, shooting foul shots at a 75% clip. The center position may be something of a revolving door for the Panthers, as McCord, Tarantino and talented freshman Matt Folger will all push for minutes. But for now, Majors holds down the fort.

Breakout Player: Forward Zach Baines ‘18

As I mentioned above, Baines belongs high on the list of preseason contenders for Defensive Player of the Year. But all this hype about his defense shouldn’t have the effect of discounting his offensive potential. In addition to being a real threat to dunk on someone every time he gets in the paint, Baines has a very soft touch from about 15 feet and in. He shot 46.4 % from the floor last year, and his jumping ability allows him to get off shots in the paint that other players simply cannot. He also has good mechanics on his shooting stroke, suggesting that a more consistent jumpshot is in his future. If he can make steps in that direction this year, a stat line of 15/10/3 blocks and 50% shooting is a very real possibility for Baines, and that would put him squarely in the conversation for Player of the Year.

Everything Else:

Between St. Amour, Brown and Daly, Middlebury has the best backcourt we’ve seen in recent NESCAC memory. However, one thing they do not provide in spades is outside shooting. St. Amour is obviously deadly, but neither Brown nor Daly is much of a three point threat. This is what makes Middlebury’s second unit guards so important. Sophomore Hilal Dahleh ‘19 has a sweet left handed stroke and showed excellent composure off the bench last season. He will need to be a major offensive weapon off the bench, particularly from three, if the Panthers hope to repeat as champions and make a deep NCAA run. Senior Bryan Jones has shown himself to be capable of being a major offensive force, but he needs to be more conistant in order to really make a difference.  There are two intruiging freshmen who could also provide some spacing for the Panthers in Matt Folger and Perry Delorenzo ‘20. Folger is a prototypical NESCAC stretch four, except for his height. At 6’8”, he has the size to eventually be an interior force as well as a good shooter. Delorenzo is true local; his mother is legendary field hockey coach at Middlebury Katherine Delorenzo, and he has a sweet shooting stroke. Jones and Delorenzo will jockey for playing time all season, with outside shooting being the main factor that sets one above the other.

As I mentioned earlier, the “center” position is something of an unknown for Middlebury following the departure of Matt Daley. Adisa Majors played very well at the end of last season, but it is very possible that he reached his ceiling in terms of offensive production. If so, that ceiling is considerably lower than that of Nick Tarantino ‘18 or Matt Folger ‘20, both of whom are more athletic and can stretch the floor with jump shots. It is quite possible that Middlebury’s best lineup next season will be a hyper small, poor man’s version of the Golden State Warriors famed “Lineup of Death.” This would feature the starting backcourt of Brown, Daly and St. Amour, with Dahleh using his length to guard a four and Baines roaming the paint as a hyper quick five. This would obviously sacrifice a lot in terms of size, but Daly and St. Amour are both excellent rebounders as guards, as is Baines at a forward. Every position could switch adequately on pick and rolls, and the speed and ball movement on offense would be beautiful to watch. Look for the Panthers to break out this lineup in order to counteract a lack of size in comparison to Amherst and Tufts.

Middlebury’s highly uneven home/road split from last season evens out this season, as the Panthers play 13 home games and 11 road ones, rather than 9 and 15, like last season. This seems relevant, as Middlebury was 9-0 at home last season. The Panthers are a good team anywhere, but in front of the Pepin crowd they tend to reach another level. If they can play well enough during the regular season to host the NESCAC tournament, Middlebury fans could be in for a very long season, and I mean that in the best possible sense of that phrase.

The top 25 list was released last week, with Amherst opening the season at #1 and Tufts just behind them at number five. Middlebury is far down the list at #24, despite beating Amherst on the road in the NESCAC final last year. This is not an injustice per se. Amherst made the NCAA Final Four last season, and Tufts the Elite Eight. However, it does bring another example of Middlebury being slept on by the powers-that-be. Middlebury has the experience, drive and talent to end the season at number one on that poll, and no one should be surprised if they pull it off.