Nothing But NESCAC’s Christmas Vacation

As I sit, curled up in my new Red Sox snuggie with a cup of hot cocoa and Star Wars on the TV, a feeling of deep contentment washes over

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Fun fact: The NBA logo is not Jerry West, as many people believe. It’s actually two 10 year old boys dressing up as Jerry West to sneak into an R-Rated movie.

me. But soon I am disturbed by a thought, which gnaws and picks at my brain like a cockroach in a wall: Who are the frontrunners for the NESCAC Basketball awards, and who are their NBA counterparts?  Such is the life of a sports blogger. So here I am, I haven’t showered in three days, and I’m presenting you with this article. It may still be too early for awards considerations, as league play has a tendency to change statistics a great deal, but I DON’T CARE. I have included the top three contenders for each award, as well as the NBA player whom I see as the closest comparison to the NESCAC player, based both style of play, role on their team and spot within the framework of the league. And by the way, I should be leading the NbN writer Power Rankings at this point. I don’t see Rory or Colby putting anything out here while on vacation.

Player of the Year

Bowdoin Guard Jack Simonds ‘19: Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves)

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

Just as there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, there must always be a NESCAC leading scorer in Brunswick. Simonds has picked up right where Lucas Hausman left off, leading the league in scoring at 23.6 points per game. Despite having the green light from pretty much anywhere on the court, he has gotten his buckets very efficiently, putting up a 47/37/89 shooting line and leading the league in free throws made per game. The Wiggins comparison stems largely from their style of play. The key to mini-leap Wiggins has made this season has been adding an outside shot to his arsenal, something that Simonds utilizes with extreme precision. However, both players are also at their best when going to the basket, as evidenced by the high amount of free throws that both players shoot. Simonds and Wiggins also both play alongside excellent distributors who are shooting liabilities, in Tim Ahn ‘19 and Ricky Rubio. And finally, both players will see their award recognition be largely dependent on where their teams finish, as they both carry teams that have struggled thus far.

Amherst Guard Jayde Dawson ‘18: DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

Jayde Dawson
Jayde Dawson ’18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Dawson has catapulted himself into Player of the Year consideration on the strength of several strong performances in the last couple weeks. The junior guard has averaged nearly 27 PPG over his last four, including 32 points (and a game winner) in Amherst’s double overtime win over #2 Babson. Dawson has risen to the top of a very deep Amherst team, and has even become something of a volume scorer, taking 72 shots over the last three games. This is where the comparison to DeRozan becomes appropriate. DeRozan is in the top 5 in the league in scoring due to a relentless style that necessitates a lot of shots. Dawson, like DeRozan, subscribes to the “shoot your way out of it” approach to scoring. Additionally, both high scoring two guards play on very deep teams, with a point guard who is considerably more efficient in Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and Kyle Lowry. Dawson and DeRozan both keep their teams in games with their scoring ability, but also run the risk of shooting their teams out of games.

Williams Forward Daniel Aronowitz ‘17: Paul George (Pacers)

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Daniel Aronowitz ’17 (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

One of the most versatile players in the league, Aronowitz has been the key to Williams’ strong start to 2016-2017. At 6’5”, Aronowitz is longer than many of the other guards in the league, which allows him to crash the boards and shoot over smaller defenders in the post. For all their perimeter depth, Williams has serious weaknesses inside. They lack a real interior scoring threat, and Wesleyan exposed their lack of rebounding toughness in their ten point win earlier in December. Aronowitz may well be the player who is most important to their team in the league, due to his rebounding and interior scoring responsibilities as well as holding down the perimeter. Aronowitz’s combination of post scoring, shooting and defense remind me of Paul George. George plays on a team (the Pacers) who lack a dominant inside scorer, as Myles Turner is only in his second year and is something of stretch-five anyway, and therefore he absorbs much of the rebounding burden. Like George, Aronowitz carries a very heavy load for his team. We will see if that is sustainable come league play.

Connecticut College Forward Zuri Pavlin ‘17: Nikola Vucevic (Magic)

Zuri Pavlin
Zuri Pavlin ’17 (Courtesy of Connecticut College Athletics)

Pavlin has been an excellent player for four years, averaging a double-double over his 20 year (it seems like) career at Connecticut College. But his senior season has seen him raise his game to a new level. Pavlin is again near the top of the league in rebounding, as he has been for his whole career, but his offensive game has taken a major step forward. He is averaging 14.6 PPG on 54% shooting, both career highs. Connecticut College leads the league in scoring despite being eighth in three pointers. Pavlin anchors this interior-focused offense. While the Orlando Magic’s offense is considerably less effective than Connecticut College’s (in relation to the rest of their league,) they share an offense that is highly focused on the paint, contrary to the direction that the game is going. Vucevic is an excellent rebounder despite being undersized, and is also a versatile offensive weapon. He and Pavlin share a tenacity on the boards and a versatile offensive game in the paint, although Pavin is far more crucial to his team’s success than Vucevic.

Defensive Player of the Year

Bates Forward Malcolm Delpeche ‘17: John Henson (Bucks)

Malcolm Delpeche
Malcolm Delpeche ’17 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

While Delpeche’s offensive game has been a work in progress throughout his career, defensively he has always been a stud. He has averaged over 1.5 blocks per game three out of his four seasons, and has forced countless more missed shots due to his presence. This season he has been even better than his first three seasons, leading the league in blocks with 3 per game. He has paired with his brother Marcus to give Bates one of the most formidable defenses in the league (third in the league in opponents points and second in blocks.) And with Bates sitting dead last in the league in points per game themselves, their defense is critical to any success they may have. Delpeche’s shot-blocking ability stems mostly from his quick feet and tremendous wingspan, making him very reminiscient of former UNC and current Milwaukee Bucks big man John Henson. Henson uses his tremendous wingspan and footwork to anchor an elite defense that keeps his team in games even when they struggle to score, just as Delpeche does for Bates.

Hamilton Forward Peter Hoffmann ‘19: Paul Millsap (Hawks)

Peter Hoffmann
Peter Hoffman ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

Former ESPN writer and current head of The Ringer (and chief role model of yours truly) Bill Simmons invented the statistic “stocks” in order to measure how destructive a player is defensively. The formula is kind of complicated, but see if you can keep up: blocks plus steals equals stocks. Hoffmann is dominating the NESCAC stocks race, averaging 4.3 stocks per game. Hoffmann is the only player in the league in the top five in both steals and blocks, and has been crucial in keeping Hamilton in the middle of the pack defensively. At 6’5,” Hoffmann has the size to outmuscle guards on the perimeter. And despite being undersized for a forward, he is long and athletic enough make an impact in the paint as well. This is where the Paul Millsap comparison comes to fruition. Millsap has made his mark in the NBA by being an undersized forward whose remarkably quick hands and feet allow him to guard perimeter players and get steals. He can also move down to the post and block shots, making him the centerpiece of an excellent Hawks defense. Hoffmann has been a dominating defensive force this season, and could vault into Player of the Year consideration if he can keep it up in league play.

Middlebury Guard Jack Daly ‘18: Marcus Smart (Celtics)

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

Middlebury’s greatest strength is their guard trio of Matt St. Amour ‘17, Jake Brown ‘17 and Daly. The three guards are fourth, seventh and second in the league in steals, and are also three of the top four scorers on the team. But with St. Amour’s recent shooting struggles and Brown’s responsibilities to run the offense, Daly has emerged as arguably Middlebury’s best player so far this season. He and Brown share defensive responsibilities on point guards, but Daly’s sneaky-long arms and and strong upper body allow him to body larger shooting guards and forwards. He is also possibly Middlebury’s best rebounder, averaging nearly 6 per game despite being only 6’2”. Daly is not an outside threat in any sense of the word, and yet averages 11 points per game due to pure tenacity and strength in the paint. Daly fills a similar role for Middlebury that Marcus Smart does for the Celtics. Both are devastating perimeter defenders who can guard nearly any position on the court, and also carry a great deal of rebounding responsibility on teams that struggle on the glass. They also both have the horribly cliche “nose for the ball.” If there’s a big play on defense for Middlebury or the Celtics, you can bet that Daly or Smart was involved.

Rookie of the Year

Hamilton Guard Kena Gilmour ‘20: Jaylen Brown (Celtics)

Kena Gilmour
Kena Gilmour ’20 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

Hamilton is enjoying a youth movement in 2016-2017, and Gilmore looks like the freshman centerpiece. A 26 point outing against Clarkson has skewed his numbers towards the high side a bit, but he has been a consistent contributor all season for the Continentals. Here are his numbers if you project them out over 30 minutes (approximately, since I can’t find a calculator and can’t do math): 21 PPG, 6.0 REB/G, 1.2 A/G, 55.8% shooting. He has shown confidence, if not success, in his jump shot, taking 3 threes per 30 minutes. But his real skill is in the paint, where he gets to often due to his size and athleticism. Gilmore, as is the case with all freshman, has been turnover and defensive-lapse prone, but his offensive contributions speak for themselves. Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown plays a similar style. Despite being far from a threat from three, Brown is a very effective slasher, and has already had two or three monster dunks this season. Brown and Gilmore are both important contributors early in their careers, and Gilmore could be an x factor come league play.

Middlebury Forward Matt Folger ‘20: Domantas Sabonis (Oklahoma City)

Matt Folger
Matt Folger ’20 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

The skill that stands out most about Matt Folger if you watch him in warm-ups is his feather soft jump shot. At the beginning of the season, Folger projected as a prototypical stretch four. However, this season has seen him struggle from three, shooting only 18%. But his struggles from outside have allowed him to showcase his other skills. Despite only playing around 12 minutes, Folger averages 1.1 blocks and .6 steals per game. He is also shooting a ridiculous 80% on two point shots, showing good hands and a soft touch around the rim, as well as from mid-range. Sabonis of the Thunder shows a similar skill-set. He entered the league as little more than a stretch four, but has shown already this season that he can be dangerous in the paint on offense and defense. Middlebury and Oklahoma City have problems at the five right now, but if Folger and Sabonis continue developing, they may not in the future.

It’s probably obvious, but there are A LOT of opinions in this article. I changed my mind on both the awards and the comparisons roughly a thousand times, and even now I’m not sure I like any of them. So I welcome any argument about either the NESCAC players in the running for the awards or their NBA counterparts. Arguing about NESCAC basketball is my second favorite thing in the world to do, and arguing about the NBA is first. So come at me on Twitter, on the blog post, on Facebook, or the blog email. I welcome it.

It’s Way Too Early For Power Rankings: Power Rankings 12/14

By popular demand (Pete’s note: pretty sure I’m the only one who even requested this,) here are the first NBN power rankings of the 2016-2017 basketball season. I have finals to study for, so I’m not going to spend time on a long-winded intro. NESCAC basketball has been great so far, but I just can’t wait for January so that we can see where everyone actually stacks up. Now, here are the rankings at a point in the season that is far too early to make rankings.

1.) Amherst (8-0, 0-0)

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I feel like Joey Flannery is basically a NESCAC player at this point with the amount of love that we’re giving him lately, but the kid can ball.

They’re the number one team in the country, and they’re obviously the number one team in NESCAC as well. Amherst has been dominant so far this year against mostly far inferior competition, but they have also picked up the most impressive win in the country so far in a double-overtime thriller against #2 Babson last week. While Babson’s Joey Flannery ‘17 dropped 42 to put away Tufts just a few weeks prior, Amherst was able to withstand Flannery’s 41 thanks to some late-game heroics from Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and Jayde Dawson ‘17. Though it wasn’t the most efficient 32 (13-30 from the field), Dawson showed that he could put the ball in the basket when it counted. He’s now third in the league with 18.3 PPG, the leading scorer for Coach Hixon’s team. Amherst relies on Dawson and McCarthy primarily on offense, but the rest of their scoring is spread pretty evenly between the seven other players averaging 12+ minutes per game. Balance, balance, balance – that is what Amherst is about at this point in the year

2.) Wesleyan (9-0, 0-0)

Speaking of balance, Wesleyan is displaying just that through their first nine games. The Cardinals have four players averaging double-digits so far (Jordan Bonner, Salim Green, Harry Rafferty, and Joseph Kuo), and three others averaging over 7.0 PPG (Nathan Krill, Andrew Gardiner, and Kevin O’Brien). This widespread attack has given opposing defenses headaches, and these headaches have even carried over to the other end of the court. Wesleyan is allowing the fewest points per game so far this season. They’re not blocking an ungodly amount of shots, they’re not forcing a ridiculous amount of turnovers, the Cardinals are just baiting their opponents into tough shots, leading to league-bests in opponent’s FG% (34%) and opponent’s three-point FG% (28.5%). They also took down a strong Williams team at home on December 3rd, showing that the Cardinals are far from rebuilding, as we thought they might this year.

3.) Middlebury (7-1, 0-0)

If you’ve been keeping up with our sparsely posted articles, you know a lot about the Panthers since the Middlebury section takes up half of every one of Pete’s articles. Like Pete noted on Monday, the Panthers are a very solid 7-1 right now, with their lone loss coming to Endicott, who only just dropped out of the Top 25. What concerns me in the long run for Middlebury is that they allow opponents to shoot 42.5% from the field, the worst mark in the league. However, Middlebury’s own shooting percentage, 49.7%, goes for the best shooting efficiency in the league, so the Panthers will probably be alright. One reason they shoot so well is because they lead the league in assists.  They are the only team in the NESCAC who can boast 20+ AST/G. If Jake Brown ‘17 and Jack Daly ‘18 remain among the ranks of the top 5 dime-droppers in the conference, Middlebury will be pretty tough to shut down offensively.

4.) Tufts (8-2, 0-0)

I’m not saying I jinxed the Jumbos in my most recent post, but I’m not not saying it. As soon as I posted about how Tufts and Amherst deserved more credit for their play, Tufts nearly gave away a game to Brandeis, they got worked by Joey Flannery and the Babson Beavers, and then lost on a buzzer beater to a far less talented UMass-Boston team. Nonetheless, Tufts bounced back against Wentworth on Saturday with a nice 15-point victory led by a four-pronged attack of Vinny Pace ‘18, Tarik Smith ‘17, Everett Dayton ‘18, and Tom Palleschi ‘17. One of the  issues in their slide last week was that they relied far too heavily on Pace to bail them out, an issue that started all the way back against WPI. Well, Dayton must have realized this as well, because in the last two games he has gone for 16 and 14 points while shooting 50% from the field. If the Jumbos want to stop dropping in the rankings, Tufts is going to need Dayton to keep playing well, because so far they have lacked the consistent offensive punch in the interior that they possessed last winter.

5.) Williams (8-1, 0-0)

I feel bad putting the Ephs in the five spot since their only loss came against #22 Wesleyan, but for a very young Williams team, things are looking good so far. Dan Aronowitz ‘17 is leading the way once again for Coach App’s squad with 18.6 PPG, 2.2 AST/G, and 4.3 REB/G, and he has positioned himself nicely in the Player of the Year race as we head into winter break. Aronowitz is aided primarily by Cole Teal ‘18 and Kyle Scadlock ‘19 on the offensive end, while Bobby Casey ‘19 and James Heskett ‘19 have also chipped in quite a bit. The post is what we figured would be the weak spot for the Ephs, and in their lone loss to Wesleyan, they were outscored 34-18 in the paint. Now I know that not all points in the paint come via post players, but lack of an imposing defensive presence down low begs questions about whether Williams will be able to maintain their current success. If they can figure it out, however, the Ephs will be alright.

6.) Hamilton (6-2, 0-0)

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OH you didn’t mean this “Hamilton cast?”

I’ll be honest, Hamilton has been the biggest surprise for me so far this season. I know they have not been too competitive in NESCAC play in recent years, but I truly believe this is a different Continentals team than we’ve seen in awhile. The Hamilton offense is led by a very young cast: Tim Doyle ‘19 (20.0 PPG, note that Doyle has only played in three of Hamilton’s eight games), Peter Hoffman ‘19 (16.3 PPG), and Michael Grassey ‘19 (16.0 PPG) do the bulk of the damage, while Kena Gilmour ‘20 also chips in with 10.0 PPG. The Continentals are a pretty solid rebounding team, led by Grassey and Andrew Groll ‘19, who are 7th and 9th in the NESCAC respectively. Hamilton is one of the youngest teams in the league, but they were last year as well, which allowed the class of 2019 to gain valuable on-court experience. I think that Hamilton will have at least one big upset this year, but I don’t think they’re quite mature enough to topple some of the beasts at the top of the conference. I suppose we’ll see when league action begins.

7.) Conn College (7-1, 0-0)

Conn College looked pretty good at this point last season, but they fell off when NESCAC play rolled around as they were unable to finish some games the way they wanted to. However, Conn looks to be a much more cohesive unit thus far, and they’ve been scoring in bunches this year. The Camels lead the league with 86.8 PPG, and it has a full team effort on the offensive end as six (!!) different Conn players are averaging at least 11 PPG through their first eight contests. However, one cause of concern, and maybe where the challenges of NESCAC play will catch up to Conn, is that their bench is not very deep. It’s more or less a seven man rotation for Conn, which will be thin when conference action begins in January. Additionally, the Camels are fully reliant on their ability to score the ball – they are last in the league in points allowed, and as we saw against Wesleyan, when Conn doesn’t score well, they don’t play as well (Pete’s Note: Pretty sure this is how it works for most teams.) Conn looks to be a potential threat as of now, but unless they figure out their defense they will struggle in NESCAC play.

8.) Trinity (5-4, 0-0)

Very classic Trinity allowing just 64.8 PPG so far, but what’s a bit uncharacteristic is that they have not had the scoring to reward their defense. I will admit, their losses have not been the worst defeats in the history of Division III hoops – Southern Vermont was an NCAA tournament team last winter and Susquehanna is currently ranked 18th in the country, but regardless, I think the Bantams are scarily dependent on Ed Ogundeko ‘17. Trinity plays 9-10 deep, but Ogundeko is the only consistent scorer, and when he struggles, so does the team. In two of his three lowest scoring games, Trinity has lost. Their biggest issue offensively is without a doubt ball control. The Bantams are committing a dreadful 19.8 TO/G,and if this type of sloppy ball security continues, it would be hard-pressed to envision Trinity in the playoffs.

9.) Bowdoin (5-3, 0-0)

Jack Simonds
Jack Simonds ’19 is a serious contender for both Player of the Year and Best Hair in the League.

Though Bowdoin looked very pretty solid early on, it has become clear after eight games that this team is completely reliant on Jack Simonds ‘19. To a certain extent, this is fine – Simonds does lead the NESCAC in scoring after all, with 23.6 PPG – but it is to the point where Bowdoin refuses to even take him off the court. Simonds plays 35.1 minutes on average…I believe that that’s simply an unsustainable amount of playing time. What’s worse, Bowdoin doesn’t really have anyone else who can take over the scoring duties if he has an off day, and in the one game the sophomore scored less than 19 points (he scored 12), Bates handed Bowdoin their biggest loss of the season. The Polar Bears are just not that deep, and while Simonds has explosive potential on the offensive end, relying on one player is generally not the formula for success in the NESCAC.

10.) Bates (5-3, 0-0)

Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche are currently leading the Bobcats with 15.0 and 13.3 PPG respectively. Marcus is also second in the conference in rebounding (10.5 REB/G) while Malcolm is tied for fourth (9.4 REB/G), and Malcolm leads the NESCAC with 3.3 BLK/G. With all these positive signs, I can’t help but think back to previous years where the Delpeche twins have been solid during the non-conference portion of their schedules and then fallen off once January rolled around, but I’m hoping that this is the year that the two finally get over the hump and lead Bates back to the playoffs. The Bobcats did trounce Bowdoin by 14 last week, but they then suffered a devastating loss to Colby on Saturday after the Mules’ Patrick Stewart ‘17 converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 0.2 seconds left in regulation. Bates is a decent defensive team, but they rank last in points scored, so expect Bates to show off their Lewiston toughness come conference play.

11.) Colby (5-4, 0-0)

After losing what feels like a million seniors that graduated in May, the Mules are young. Really young. They only have two seniors and two juniors. They have eight (yes, eight) freshmen. So as not to leave out the class of 2019, I’ll note that there are three sophomore Mules on their roster, but I think my point is clear – this team lacks maturity, and that is one of the most important features for a NESCAC basketball team. Patrick Stewart ‘17, however, has captain(Kirk)ed Colby this season to the tune of 16.2 PPG. Unfortunately, he’s really been the only consistent threat for Colby, leading to some pretty inconsistent play. When the Mules took on Bowdoin in a nonconference matchup (who obviously know each other pretty well), Stewart was just 2-18 from the field with 7 points. Conference opponents are going to be able to shut down Stewart, so someone else is going to need to pull some of the scoring load. In each of their four losses, Colby has been outscored in the paint. That’s only happened one time when Colby has won, so they’re either going to need to figure out how to keep teams out of the paint, or they are going to have to start shooting higher than 32.8% from three-point land.

Playing Catch-Up: Highlights from Our Time Off

Everyone knows that the hardest thing about sports blogging is fighting off all the people trying to date you because of your articles (ladies, ladies, please, one at a time.) But the second hardest thing is balancing the rest of your college life with blogging responsibilities. It’s a delicate balance that we writers strike between writing and other college activities, and

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Hope is a good thing, and we HOPE that finals don’t kill us so we can keep writing about sports.

finals season (as well as a play in which I had to dress like a bear) has that balance considerably out of whack. But we’re almost to the end of the tunnel of ****-smelling foulness that is finals, and ready to reach the Zihuatentejo that is NESCAC basketball.

Annoyingly for our purposes, the league did not stop during our break. In fact, there were several huge matchups, including a non-league tilt between Williams and Wesleyan, and two matchups featuring Babson and the class of NESCAC, namely Tufts and Amherst. Wesleyan continued to dominate, Hamilton and Conn College continued to make their leaps forward, and Middlebury struggled at times but ultimately came out with two quality wins. Here are the highlights from the last week and a half or so of NESCAC basketball.

Tufts/Amherst vs Babson

Tufts and Amherst both played Babson (#2 in the country). At the time of their games, Tufts was #3 in the country, and Amherst has been #1 all season, so both games were marquee matchups. Tufts took on Babson on December 3rd in the final of the Big Four Challenge in Waltham, MA. Babson dominated the game throughout, winning 91-78 and holding Tufts to 40.5% shooting. Tufts was particularly weak on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 49-39 despite their reputation as one of the bigger, tougher teams in the league. The loss appears to have triggered a mini-slide for the Jumbos, who dropped their next game 76-74 to UMASS-Boston (definitively NOT the #2 team in the country.) They were out-rebounded again in that game 49-42, but this was a much more embarrassing disparity according to Rory, who attended the game. UMASS-Boston has nobody over 6’4″ on their roster, and Rory told me that the Beacons really took advantage of Tufts overlooking them. Tufts, a generally aggressive team, definitely looked more tentative, and as a result they only got to the line nine times, making just five. Tufts has “dropped” to #5 in the country (champagne problems, am I right), and they need to regain some of their toughness to avoid falling further.

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Joey Flannery ’17 averaged 41.5 points in their games against Tufts and Amherst.


The Amherst/Babson game, on the other hand, was an all-time classic. I was lucky enough to turn it on for the last five minutes of regulation and both overtimes, so I saw many of the big plays leading up to Amherst’s 99-97 win. Babson’s leading scorer Joey Flannery ‘17 had 41, after having 42 against Tufts. But the real star of the game was Amherst senior guard Jayde Dawson, who had 32 points, including the game tying layup at the end of the first overtime and the game winner in the second. Johnny McCarthy ‘18 also had two huge threes, including the game tying shot at the end of regulation. Babson appeared to have the game won four or five times, but, like the show Two Broke Girls, Amherst simply would not die.

The Maine Schools come back to Earth

On paper, the Maine schools (Bowdoin, Bates and Colby) look to be the three weakest teams in the league. But early in the season they looked poised to surprise. Jack Simonds ‘18 leads NESCAC in scoring, and the Delpeche twins had Bates looking scary. However, the last week or so has seen the league become more and more stratified. Colby in particular has returned to earth, with a terrible loss to perennial power Maine-Presque Isle on Wednesday being the lowlight.

Because of the lack of colleges or civilization in general in Maine, these schools have played games against each other in order to fill out their non-conference schedules. Bates took care of Bowdoin 74-60 on Wednesday, holding Simonds to just 12 points. And on Saturday, Colby beat Bates 55-54 in a game that middle schoolers would have watched and said “this seems sloppy.” Neither team shot over 40% from the field, and the teams combined for an abysmal 14-50 from three. Of course, official league-play doesn’t start until after the holidays, but it seems that the Maine schools will be towards the bottom once it gets started.

Wesleyan and Williams Need Some Love

To be clear, when I say they “need love” I’m saying both from NbN and the shadowy listmasters over at D3Hoops. Williams has flown under the radar largely due to their unsexy style of play. The Ephs are towards the middle of the league in points per game, and towards the bottom in rebounding, blocks and quality of nickname. And yet, thanks to an efficient offense and stout defense, Williams sits at 8-1. The Ephs average just 11.9 TO/G (third in the league) and have the second highest shooting percentage, despite taking a league leading 27 threes per game. And on defense, they allow the fourth fewest points per game despite their tremendous struggles on the boards. Williams has real struggles defending the paint, but their strong perimeter players, led by POY candidate Daniel Aronowitz ‘17, place them in strong position to continue succeeding in the guard-heavy NESCAC.

Wesleyan has also had great success this season at 9-0, but they have done it in a much different fashion than Williams. The Cardinals are very deep, with ten players averaging over 10 minutes per game. This talent off the bench allows them to play a fast, exciting style. Sophomore guard Salim Green started off the season as the sixth man, but has moved into the starting lineup and uses his tremendous speed to kickstart the Wesleyan offense. He leads the team in scoring at 12.0 PPG. He is joined by several other talented perimeter players, including fellow sophomore Jordan Bonner and senior Harry Rafferty. Senior forward Joseph Kuo holds down the middle, along with junior forward Nathan Krill. The Cardinals really excel on defense, where they lead the league in rebounding margin and are second in opponent points per game.

Men's Basketball Remains Undefeated with 72-62 Win Over Williams
PJ Reed ’17 drives the lane against Williams.

Williams and Wesleyan met in Middletown for a non-league tilt on Saturday the 3rd, and to put it simply, the Cardinals beat the Ephs up. Wesleyan outshot Williams 53.2% to 37.5%, and outrebounded them 41-23. However, this impressive performance hasn’t translated to any recognition for Wesleyan in the national rankings. D3Hoops has them outside the top 25 by a considerable margin. Wesleyan should post these rankings all over their locker room, because they are being disrespected by the powers that be.

Middlebury Struggles (Kind Of), Succeeds (Kind Of)

Let me speak now to my fellow Middlebury fans who read this blog:

Guys, calm down. We do not get to complain, nor should we panic, about being 7-1 and leading the league in field goal percentage. A tough loss against #20 Endicott is not a bad loss, and a close win over maybe-should-be-ranked Skidmore is a good win. Relax, have a beer, everything is gonna be okay.

Jake Brown poured in a career-high 22 points during Saturday's thrilling win.
Jake Brown ’17 has been playing like a First Team All League Candidate lately.

Alright, now that we took care of that, let’s get serious. Middlebury has come through a difficult non-conference stretch in which they played Endicott (#20), Southern Vermont on the road (beat Trinity) and Skidmore (was ranked for a time). The Panthers came out of this stretch 2-1, dropping a 93-89 heartbreaker to Endicott before beating Southern Vermont on the road and Skidmore at home in a thriller. There were many bright spots for Middlebury in these games. The play of point guard (or Point “God” if you want to go by his instagram handle) Jake Brown ‘17 is chief among them. Brown had a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists against Southern VT, and then put the team on his back Greg Jennings-style against Skidmore, with 22 points, 9 rebounds and the game winner on a putback after an offensive rebound. Matt St Amour ‘17 struggled mightily against Southern Vermont and Skidmore, going 5-25 from the field in the two games. However, it must be noted that he did block the potential game winner for Skidmore, putting to rest any rumors of defense being his weakness. The play of Brown, along with bench mob members Matt Folger ‘20, Nick Tarantino ‘18 and Bryan Jones ‘17, helped the Panthers weather St. Amour’s inconsistencies.

Now for the bad. Of course, St Amour’s struggles are worrying, although he may simply be tired from carrying a heavy load early in the year. Break will be a good time for him to reset himself a bit and come back strong for league play (said the biased Middlebury fan, hopefully.) Additionally, against both Endicott and Skidmore, the Panthers blew double digit leads in the second half. After crisp, high scoring first halves, Middlebury looked discombobulated at times on offense in both games, and let opponents back into the game with defensive lapses. Both those opponents are very good teams who would be expected to make runs, but Middlebury shows signs of being able to crush even teams of that quality. Therein lies the frustration with Middlebury’s play of late: they are winning, but they could be winning more solidly. A neutral site matchup with #16 Illinois-Wesleyan will be a good test for Middlebury coming out of break. If they can tweak some of their issues with second half play, and St Amour returns to his early season form, Middlebury is every bit as good as Amherst, Tufts and Wesleyan.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Tufts guard Ben Engvall '18 lays the ball in as Amherst's David George '17 tries for a swat from behind (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).
Tufts guard Ben Engvall ’18 lays the ball in as Amherst’s David George ’17 tries for a swat from behind (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

So there I was – it was Tuesday and I was just sitting around trying to put together a plan of attack to become an academic weapon in between now and finals. Just minding my own business when Pete sends me his list of talking points to edit. I finally got around to reading it Wednesday night in the midst of my increasingly building workload, and when I finished, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that something was off. I took a quick read through and didn’t notice any grammar mistakes, a pleasant surprise for Pete’s work. So I reread the talking points he put together, and then it struck me. There was no mention of the #1 or the #3 teams in the nation, Amherst and Tufts. Seems a bit odd, no? Well, congratulations Pete, because if this was your strategy to motivate me to write a blog, it worked. Maybe I just have a soft spot for these two because I grew up an Amherst fan and am now a Tufts superfan, but I’m sick and tired of the lack of credit being given to these two. The fact is, omitting these two teams is inexcusable at this point in the season, so I’ll do the honors. Here’s how two of the top three teams in the nation are doing so far this fall.

Amherst, 4-0

Coach Dave Hixon has quite the squad this year, and he hopes to lead them back to the Final Four like last year (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).
Coach Dave Hixon has quite the squad this year, and he hopes to lead them back to the Final Four like last year (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).

Amherst is 4-0 after Tuesday night’s solid win against Westfield State, and has done nothing that indicates their number one national ranking is undeserved. Their closest game has been an 11 point victory on the road against Anna Maria, which is also their only away game at this point. In their home contests, however, Amherst has been nothing short of dominant, outscoring their opponents by a total of 89 points in those three matchups, or just under 30 PPG. Obviously, Amherst hasn’t been faced with the strongest competition so far, but they also haven’t shown any signs of weakness. The Purple and White are playing the best defense in the league by far (just 58.0 OPPG), allowing 9 points less than the next closest NESCAC defense (Williams). They’re not necessarily forcing the most turnovers in the world (13.5 TO/G, 7th in the league), but they are forcing opponents into taking difficult shots. I mean really tough shots. Opponents are shooting just 34.7% from the field and 26.3% from three-point land against Coach Hixon’s squad…. That second percentage is absolutely miserable.

One reason Amherst is able to force this poor offensive play is that they are so versatile on defense. Jayde Dawson ‘17 can guard pretty much any opposing point guard, Johnny McCarthy ‘18 flashes such length that Kevin Durant looks like he has t-rex arms in comparison, and both Michael Riopel ‘18 and Jeff Racy ‘17 more than hold their own. Amherst switches pretty much everything on the perimeter, something they can do because of their athleticism, size, and most of all, because they have David George ‘17 manning the paint – not a bad little safety net behind you as a perimeter defender.

“Oh, but Rory, Amherst doesn’t have anyone who can score! McCarthy is their top scorer with just 13.0 PPG – that’s 18th in the NESCAC!!!” So what. Amherst never has anyone that scores significantly more than the rest of the team, that’s why they’re always so good. Coach Hixon currently has four players averaging double digits: McCarthy, Dawson (11.0), Riopel (10.5), and Eric Conklin ‘17 (10.3). That’s not something too many NESCAC teams can say. They are also so deep that they don’t play their starters the entire game, they just simply don’t need to. Of the top 10 scorers, only the 10th highest scorer (Vinny Pace, who I will get to), that is averaging under 20 minutes per game. Pace is actually the only one averaging under 24 MIN/G. Well, McCarthy is the only one on Amherst averaging over 24 MIN/G, and the next highest is Riopel, who is playing 20.5 minutes on average. My point is this: Amherst scores the ball extremely efficiently, and while it’s certainly impressive that Jack Simonds is scoring 25.2 PPG, he is also playing 36.2 MIN/G. I’m not picking on Jack, I’m just saying that there is a strong correlation between minutes played and points scored. This is a pretty consistent trend through the top 10 scorers, which is why Amherst’s wide array of scoring threats should be more highly regarded than it seems like it is. Amherst is really, really good, and they deserve that recognition.

Tufts, 5-0

Tarik Smith '17 has been the most consistent threat for the Jumbos so far this year (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).
Tarik Smith ’17 has been the most consistent threat for the Jumbos so far this year (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

A lot of people have been wondering all year – why is Tufts ranked #3? I just simply don’t get that question. Tufts started at #5 because of their Elite Eight finish last year, but they have also proved that they still deserve to be up there. Really? Ab-so-lute-ly. Tufts is currently out to a perfect 5-0 start. Spanning back through the 1999-2000 season, Tufts has not done this once. Frankly, I don’t know what happened in the 1998-1999 season or any season before that – Tufts archives don’t go back that far – but let’s just leave at this, it has been a VERY LONG TIME since Tufts had such a good start. Additionally, Tufts consistently has one of the hardest non-conference schedules in the NESCAC, and this year is no different. On Tuesday night, Tufts won an absolute battle against #23 WPI at home by score of 75-71. They also beat an Emerson squad that has been rising in recent years, and MIT, who is always at least in the Top 25 discussion. Fact is, Tufts has some solid wins on their resume already, and it’s only December 2nd. So how are they doing it?

This is the interesting part – Tufts is not really dominating in any categories. Let’s look at their defense first. The Jumbos are 5th in points allowed, they foul the 4th most, and they only force the 6th most turnovers. Tufts opponents shoot 39.3% from the field and just 33% from deep (3rd and 5th best respectively). They do have Tom Palleschi ‘17, who was second in the nation in blocked shots last season, and is continuing his dominance down low with an average of 4.2 BLK/G. He’s currently tied with Bates’ Malcolm Delpeche ‘17 at first in the conference, but realistically, I don’t see any way that Delpeche (or anyone else) takes the blocked shots crown from Palleschi at the end of the season. Still, however, blocked shots does not necessarily mean good team defense. Statistically, Tufts looks like an above average defensive team, but not the most dominant in the league. So how about the Tufts offense then?

Tufts, who led the rest of the league in scoring last year by a pretty comfortable margin, is currently 7th in the league in scoring. They’re shooting the 7th highest percentage at 45.6%, and they are hitting just 68.3% of their free throws, 3rd worst in the league. They also only tally the 8th most AST/G in the NESCAC, and turn the ball over the 2nd most. So how are the Jumbos doing it?

Well, the fact is, they just know how to win. Their primary gameplan has two-parts: get to the foul line and hit threes. Tufts has shot and made the 2nd most free-throws in the ‘CAC behind Wesleyan, and they have shot and made the 4th most three-pointers. They’ve got five guys knocking down shots from beyond the arc: Ben Engvall ‘18 (7-16), Tarik Smith ‘17 (6-14), Ethan Feldman ‘19 (10-25), Vinny Pace ‘18 (7-18), and Eric Savage ‘20 (5-13). When you have that many guys that can hit shots from deep, it’s pretty difficult for opposing defenses. So, just chase shooters off the arc, right?

Wrong. If you don’t sag, then Palleschi will eat down low. Defenses have been aware of this so far, and they’ve sagged into the paint, doubled team, and have fronted Palleschi. Basically, they’ve said, “if we’re going to lose, someone besides Palleschi is going to have to beat us.” The tough part is, Tufts has other guys! A lot of them. It seems like they’ve taken a page out of Amherst’s playbook in that no one guy is going to run the show, but rather, the whole squad is going to chip in. Opening night, it was Feldman and Everett Dayton ‘18 who carried the ‘Bos. Game 2 – Smith, Palleschi and Feldman. Game 3 – Pace, Smith, and KJ Garrett ‘18. Game 4….okay you get my point. It’s someone different every night, and that right there is why Tufts is so good. Whatever you take away, the Jumbos have a Plan B, C, and D. This team is very, very good, and if we are lucky, we could see an incredible #2 vs. #3 matchup tomorrow night: Babson vs. Tufts. Just pray that Babson and Tufts both handle business like they should tonight in the Big Four Tournament and maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be electric.

Johnny McCarthy '18 is the leader on the court for Amherst this year (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Johnny McCarthy ’18 is the leader on the court for Amherst this year (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

In summary, Amherst and Tufts are two of the best teams in the country, and as of now, seem to be the two best teams in the conference. I know that our job is to cover everyone in the NESCAC, but having two ‘CAC teams in the top three is not the most common thing in the world. The best teams in the NESCAC generally spread out their scoring and play nearly impenetrable defense. Amherst is doing this, and they’re playing phenomenal defense. Tufts is really spreading out the scoring, and playing solid D. These two are the best two teams in the conference right now, but unfortunately we’re going to have to wait until January to see how they stack up against the rest of the conference. I’m looking forward to Amherst-Tufts once NESCAC play begins, but for now I just hope we get to see a Babson-Tufts matchup tomorrow.

Can The Bantams Follow In Their Football Team’s Footsteps?: Trinity Basketball Season Preview

Jeremy Arthur has had a hot start for the Bantams so far, and they will need him to keep it up in order to challenge for the top spot in the NESCAC this year (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).
Jeremy Arthur has had a hot start for the Bantams so far, and they will need him to keep it up in order to challenge for the top spot in the NESCAC this year (Courtesy of Trinity 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.

Trinity suffered a heartbreaking loss to Middlebury in the NESCAC finals. After a nearly perfect regular season in conference, only losing to Amherst on January 30th, the Bantams, hampered by injuries, fell in the final 70-58. They were pretty much the best team in the conference all year, completing the 1-2 NESCAC punch with Amherst at the top, but didn’t perform quite as well at the tail end of the season. They were an experienced, well seasoned, and dynamic team. However, four out of the five of Trinity’s starters graduated and moved on to the real world. Their only returner is Ed Ogundeko ’17. For most teams this would leave a bleak outlook for the year and a plan for rebuilding, however, Coach James Cosgrove and the Bantams have other plans. Ogundeko is no ordinary player. He led the league in boards and is plenty to build a team and a season around.

The Bantams still stare down several holes in their lineup left by the class of 2016 at the guard and forward positions. Shay Ajayi, Rick Naylor, Jaquann Starks, and Andrew Hurd combined to average 37.3 PPG and 9.5 assists/game, making up most of the Bantams’ production. However, the four only averaged 13 REB/G combined, which barely bests Ogundeko’s 10.6 REB/G, leaving less of a hole down low. Trinity’s Coach Cosgrove clearly planned out the transition from one era to the next as he brought in six first year players to aid in adding depth and production that will help the returners cope for the holes in the lineup. Joe Bell, Kyle Padmore, and Nick Seretta should be the major contributors from the class of 2020, offering help to returners Jeremy Arthur ’19, Eric Gendron ’18, Langdon Neal ’17, and Chris Turnbull ’17 who are likely starters for the Bantams. These inexperienced players have struggled so far, as Trinity has struggled to a 1-3 start. The Bantams need some production outside of Ogundeko in order to continue to be a top tier NESCAC team.

Projected Record: 7-3

2015-2016 Record: 19-8, 9-1, Lost in NESCAC finals, Lost in first round of NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: James Cosgrove, 7th year, 90-67

Returning Starters:

Center Ed Ogundeko ‘17 (19.5 PPG, 5.2 REB/G, 2.3 A/G, 40.1% 3PT)

Key Losses:

Forward Shay Ajayi ’16 (13.9 PPG, 7.3 REB/G, 48.3% FG)

Guard Rick Naylor ‘16 (5.6 PPG, 1.2 AST/G, 30.1% FG)

Guard Jaquann Starks ‘16 (11.7 PPG, 2.2 REB/G, 2.4 AST/G)

Guard Andrew Hurd ’16 (6.1 PPG, 4.8 AST/G, 2.1 REB/G)

Projected Starting Lineup:

Guard Langdon Neal ‘17

Langdon Neal (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Langdon Neal (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Neal enters his senior season as the clear replacement for Andrew Hurd ’16 as he played in all of the Bantams’ 27 contests and averaged 14.1 minutes/game in 2016. He shot 39% from the field last year en route to a modest 3.7 PPG, 1.6 REB/G, and 1.6 A/G. Neal, a former walk-on player at American University, transferred to Trinity last year and should find his groove after one year in Cosgrove’s system. His D1 talent should translate over well to a starting position after sitting behind Hurd last year and one of four major contributors off of the bench a year ago. The Bantams will look for him to improve from beyond the arc as he shot just 1 of 4 from three-point range in 2016. Hurd had incredible 3-point efficiency as he shot 46.9% from deep and was a threat, whereas Neal’s range was limited. If Neal can become more of a shooting threat, it should open up the court for Ogundeko, who should be the clear target for opposing defenses.

Guard/Forward Eric Gendron ’18

Eric Gendron (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Eric Gendron (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Gendron enters as pretty much a lock to start this year after finishing fourth on the team last year with 8.2 PPG. He led the team in free-throw percentage and 42.2% from 3-point range last season, good for 7th in the NESCAC. He will likely play at the 2 position after Jaquann Starks’ departure (three guards in total graduated last year) leaving Trinity with a bigger lineup than most teams. At 6’4’’ Gendron should be one of the bigger shooting guards in the league, but has the ability and touch from deep range to back it up. The junior averaged 20.2 minutes a game last year and was a clear sixth man on a team that was dominated by upperclassmen. His 92.7% clip from the charity stripe led the team, and his eight double-digit point performances suggest that he could easily become the second leading scorer behind Ogundeko.

Forward Chris Turnbull ’17

Chris Turnbull (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Chris Turnbull (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Senior captain, leader, and four year player Turnbull looks to transition into the starting lineup as he was another major contributor off of the bench a season ago, averaging 16.5 minutes per game. His 3.8 REB/G and 5.7 PPG were solid for the time he got, especially considering Ogundeko’s ability to grab nearly every rebound in a game. The 6’4’’ player should fit well into the small forward position as he is backed up by plenty of bigger players down low. This should give him some opportunity to shoot as he showed flashes of big game capabilities after raining down 14 points twice last season. His veteran and experienced presence should offer the generally young Bantam team some guidance and an example of how to stick out the bench for a few years and earn a captainship and a spot in the starting five. Turnbull isn’t going to make or break the Trinity season, but he should still play as a staple and consistent contributor in the lineup, offering reliability and a solid amount of rebounds, probably coming in right behind Ogundeko on the team’s leaderboard, in a lineup that is filled with questions and intrigue heading into 2017.

Forward Jeremy Arthur ‘19

Jeremy Arthur (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Jeremy Arthur (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Arthur is one of the aforementioned question marks headed into this winter. Arthur transferred to Trinity last year from Westchester Community College and because of his late arrival didn’t make his debut until January 7th against Elms College. Coach Cosgrove played Arthur sparingly, averaging just 10.3 minutes in the games he played, but he performed well towards the end of the year and scored nine points against Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinal game. He is a big 6’4’’/210lb. and should be able to handle himself well down low with the help of Ogundeko. Arthur’s consistency will be a major factor in how much he helps out the Trinity offense, but he should be able to rack up the boards with the big men. Someone needs to replace Ajayi, who grabbed 7.3 boards per contests last season, creating a big gap in the Bantams defense. Arthur might just be that guy.

Center Ed Ogundeko ‘17

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

This guy is a beast. There’s nobody in the league who is even close to as good as him down low. His ability to get rebounds outperformed all other competitors by over 2 REB/G, an incredible difference. I’ve already mentioned him in most of the other blurbs and that’s because the team is going to rely on him to have any chance to compete this year. Sure, there are some solid newcomers and pretty good returners from the bench last year, but Ogundeko is the clear shining star on this squad. Without him, the Bantams just don’t have much of a chance. Lucky for them, he should be able to carry the team as much as one player can – Ogundeko will likely lead Trinity in points and rebounds, getting close to the NESCAC league lead in both too. His double double capabilities will be nightmarish to opposing centers who have to deal with the 6-6 230 pound beast down in the front court. This preseason All-American, captain, and center was the NESCAC defensive player of the year and should increase his rebound totals without a major defensive presence in the lineup with Ajayi gone. His season high of 22 points last year against UMASS-Boston should be eclipsed in nearly every contest and he should also score well over 50% of the time from FG range. Opponents’ game plans will center around how to stop Ogundeko, and for good reason. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t at least 1st team All-‘CAC at the end of the year.

Diamond in the Rough: Guard Nick Seretta ‘20

Nick Seretta (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Nick Seretta (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

I’m not going to lie here, I’ve been pretty lazy about writing this article. It took me a while to find a time to interview Coach Cosgrove and I kind of put the preview on hold for a while with football season wrapping up. On top of that, as many college students could agree, going home for Thanksgiving had me feeling some type of way [Editor’s note: and then I slacked pretty hard on the whole editing part of the process, pushing back the publishing date even further]. On the bright side though, this has allowed me to see what Trinity’s playing time distribution looks like after their first two games, and it’s evident that Seretta should be a major contributor from his contributions early in the young season. The 6’3’’ swingman from Middlesex, CT is averaging a huge 24 minutes per game and scored 11 points against Southern VT in his first collegiate contest. Since then, he is averaging 7.5 PPG and 3.3 rebounds per contest too. The high flying first year can dunk with the best of them too, and he should be a big playmaker and an exciting weapon down the road for the Bantams. Cosgrove highlighted how Seretta should be one of the major first year players to make an immediate impact at the college level, especially considering Trinity’s lack of guards. Youth is in quantity in Hartford, and Seretta is just one of many young guns Cosgrove looks to unveil in 2017.

Everything Else:

Between Neal, Gendron, Arthur, and Turnbull, Trinity looks to have a solid lineup as they will be led by senior sensation Ogundeko. However, the four replacements from last year’s NESCAC regular season winning team might not be up to the task. Yes, they have experience and great coaching, but none of them really standout as big playmakers and guys who can go off during a game the way that Ajayi or Starks could. Arthur in particular has had some big games, but other than Ogundeko, the Bantams have struggled to score during their 1-3 start.

This hole will hopefully lead to big impact seasons from several of the first years, including the aforementioned Seretta as well as Joe Bell ‘20 and Kyle Padmore ‘20. Bell has struggled thus far, only playing in 8.3 minutes per game and going 2-14 shooting, but his time will come as the season progresses. Padmore should have a bigger role at the guard spot evidenced by some early big minutes off of the bench. So far he is averaging 14.3 minutes per game. Padmore has shot efficiently, but only has 5 points so far this season, a number I suspect will rise as the season progresses. He has racked up a total of four boards in the first two contests though and should only increase his production as he finds his role and gets comfortable at the college level.

The 6’4’’ guard saw the opening in the lineup from a season ago and is hungry to take minutes away from the returners, as any competitive player should be, but drastic improvement throughout the course of the season is not out of the question here. He drilled a three pointer against Southern Vermont in a tough overtime loss, and should only drain more as the season goes on. Guards for the Bantams will be flying in and out of the game as they don’t have any clear stars taking the ball up the court, but they might be fine with a dribble-by-committee approach.

There are a lot of things up in the air for Trinity in this young season as they look to repeat as NESCAC regular season champs and overcome upset losses last year to win some rings. They have a long road ahead of them with ample transition into what is a new era in Hartford. Ogundeko is going to do everything he can to end his college career with a bang, and the seasoned Coach Cosgrove shouldn’t roll over easily either. Regardless of how they stack up, Trinity won’t go down easily; they are always a player in the title race, and if the young Bantams  can adjust to the college level and complement the elderly Trinity ballplayers, they will be dangerous.

The Return of the ‘CAC (Sports Blog): Five Talking Points Regarding NESCAC Basketball

Zach Baines helped Middlebury hold on to beat RPI 79-72 on Tuesday.
 Thanksgiving break was an exciting time for a lot of people. Rory got weirdly competitive with his mom, I watched 3 seasons of VEEP in four days, and there were also a couple NESCAC basketball games that we should mention. The upper crust of the league continued to play well for the most part (although Middlebury had a wakeup call that we will get to momentarily), while Bowdoin and Connecticut College continued to rise from the lower ranks. There are star performances to be discussed, questions to be raised, predictions to get wrong, and it’s just really good to be back. We’re rested, refreshed and 10 to 15 pounds heavier, so let’s get down to it with this week’s talking points.
Connecticut College
Terrible nickname, good team? Connecticut College has appeared ready to make a leap for several years now. A win over eventual champion Middlebury last season marked the Camels as a potential Cinderella team, but they never again reached that point, missing the tournament entirely. But so far they have looked very much like the team that shocked the Panthers in 2016. Senior forward (and charter member of the ‘How Long Has He Been in College’ All Star Team) Zuri Pavlin has held down the boards and provided a strong post presence with averages of 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. Indeed, the Camels have done much of their damage in the paint, averaging 84 points per game despite only making 7 threes per game (third to last in the league) and shooting 65% from the line. It is very possible that Connecticut College’s success is unsustainable once league play begins, as their poor shooting could cost them in close games. But it is also possible that the Camels are over the hump (I’m so sorry) and will contend for the rest of the year.


The Delpeches

Image result for mary kate ashley olsen full house
Which is Malcolm and which is Marcus?

A brilliant and handsome basketball analyst predicted before the season began that, if Bates had any hopes of contending in the league this season, the Delpeche twins would have to combine to carry the team on their shoulders. Alright fine, not exactly a brilliant insight. “Oh really Pete? For a team to be good, the two best players have to be good? You’re a genius!” But the fact remains Malcolm and Marcus are putting up the best twin performance since Mary Kate and Ashley Olson in Full House. The Brothers Delpeche have combined to average 31 points and 22 rebounds per game, and Malcolm is the early leader for Defensive Player of the Year thanks to his 4 blocks per night average. The joint success of Malcolm and Marcus has Parent-Trapped (because they’re twins!) opponents on both ends, and if they keep it up, Bates could turn some heads come league play.

Wesleyan’s Bench

Salim Green
Salim Green ’19 (Courtesy Wesleyan Athletics)

To use an understatement. the Cardinals appear to be weathering the departures of Rashid Epps and BJ Davis fairly well. Wesleyan has jumped out to a 5-0 start, using a balanced attack led by senior forward Joseph Kuo. However, what sets Wesleyan apart from some of the other top teams in the league is their deadly second unit. Sophomore guard Salim Green is the most explosive sixth man in the league, average 12.4 in 24 minutes. Fellow guard Jordan Sears ‘18 and forward PJ Reed ‘17 follow Green and give coach Joe Reilly maybe the most versatile second unit in the league, along with Amherst. Green in particular will clearly push for starters’ minutes as the season goes on, but keeping him on the bench could be a lethal weapon for the Cardinals.


The Panthers have hit a bump in their road to a second consecutive league title. On Sunday they blew a 17 point lead and dropped a heartbreaker at home to an excellent Endicott team 93-89, and on Tuesday night they again threatened to lose a double digit lead at home before big plays by Matt St. Amour ‘17, Zach Baines ‘19 and Adisa Majors ‘18 led them to a 79-72 win over RPI. The main problems for the Panthers have been defensive, as a lack of communication and poor rebounding led to many easy looks and second chances in both games. Middlebury has also had virtually no bench production. The second unit has only scored 15 points total in the last two games. This is partially due to the loss of Hilal Dahleh ‘19 with a back injury, but Middlebury desperately needs some life off the bench. It is of course beneficial in the long run for the Panthers to work out these kinks by playing good teams before league play begins, but Middlebury has some real problems to solve before Amherst and Tufts come calling.

Peter Hoffmann ‘19

Peter Hoffmann
Peter Hoffmann ’19 (Courtesy Hamilton Athletics)

Hamilton has been another team off to a surprisingly hot start in 2016, and that is thanks in large part to the play of sophomore Peter Hoffmann. After missing the first two games, Hoffmann has come in and dropped 20 points and 5 rebounds per game, as well as 3.3 steals. A versatile forward, Hoffmann does most of his damage in the paint and from the mid-range. Interestingly, he has struggled tremendously from the line, shooting only 45% despite attempting nearly 8 per game. That number will have to improve, or else he may have the ignomious status of being both Hamilton’s best player and biggest liability come league play.