No Mascot, No Problem: Stock Report 2/1

Marcus Delpeche '17 and Tom Palleschi '17 share a moment Saturday. (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Marcus Delpeche ’17 and Tom Palleschi ’17 share a moment Saturday. (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Amherst cemented its status as the top dog in the NESCAC with Saturday’s commanding victory over Trinity 89-82. The Purple and White led comfortably 84-70 with 1:31 left to play before the Bantams made a late push to make things a little dicey at the end. Trinity didn’t have quite enough offense to stay with the shot-making Amherst team. The game was a very physical one, with the teams combining for more than 50 fouls by the end of the game. When they make their threes, Amherst is hard to beat, and they made nine against the Bantams. The win pushes Amherst to 5-1 in conference and 16-3 overall.

Leading the way were Jayde Dawson ’18 and Johnny McCarthy ’18 with 45 points combined, 26 of those in the 2nd half. The two also combined for nine turnovers versus six assists, reinforcing that as talented players as they are, they are equally capable of sinking the team with their play. Connor Green ’16 was quiet finishing with just seven points on six shots. In times past, when Green was having a quiet game he would force the issue from three-point land, but on Saturday he let his younger teammates take the lead.

The win was a great one for Amherst, and the Purple and White now have the inside shot on hosting the NESCAC tournament. However, they are still a ways away from that happening, and the problems with this team are not going away. I think that Amherst drops another NESCAC in the coming weeks, and with Middlebury and Tufts still on the schedule, multiple losses would not be a huge surprise.

Stock Up

Point Guard Jack Bors ’19 (Bowdoin)

The Polar Bears survived in overtime against Colby in large part because of Bors coming out of nowhere to score 20 points. The 5’9″ lefty reminds Bowdoin fans of Bryan Hurley ’15 because of his toughness. Despite barely playing all season, Bors was not lacking in confidence the moment he entered into the game. Coming into Saturday, he had not scored more than four points in just one game. He wasn’t at all part of the rotation until Saturday, not playing in three of Bowdoin’s NESCAC games. Bors got time against the Mules in part because of a strong performance at the end of the blowout loss for Bowdoin against Trinity last Saturday. Coach Tim Gilbride wanted to shake things up, and with the early injury to Matt Palecki ’16, he rolled the dice with Bors. Bowdoin needed a spark to hold off the Mules in a battle that was big for both teams. Bors now will see if he can make Saturday’s performance carry over to the rest of the season.

Power Forward Rashid Epps ’16 (Wesleyan)

In a game where BJ Davis ’16 scored his 1,000 point, Epps led the way with 19 points as Wesleyan got past Conn College 87-79. Early in the season, Epps was fazed out of the offense, but he has come back in the past few weeks with very strong performances. In NESCAC games, Epps is averaging 12.3 ppg while making shots at an awesome 64.0 percent rate. A little undersized for a power forward at 6’4″, Epps is powerful enough to gain positioning against anybody. The Cardinals won again to make their NESCAC winning streak three games now. At 4-3 they are above .500 for the first time all season and suddenly are eyeing a home playoff game. Committing to getting Epps the ball is a big reason why.

Center Chris Hudnut ’16 (Colby)

One of the best players in the league, Hudnut’s past season and a half has been tough to watch because of various injuries knocking him out of games. Hudnut had not scored above 20 points in a game since December 28, missing three games since then and laboring through the rest. He looked like his usual self Saturday, dominating in the second half and scoring 33 points on just 17 shots. Twenty-four of his points came in the second half. The problem is that Colby still lost to drop to 1-5 in the NESCAC. Getting into the playoffs is not going to be easy. They lose the head-to-head tie breaker against Bates and Bowdoin, and their one win against Amherst does them no favors. The thing is, if Hudnut plays as well as he did Saturday, they have more than enough to win at least two of their final four games and give themselves a shot of making the NESCAC tournament. And if they do get in, they would scare the living heck out of whichever team would draw them in the first round.

Stock Down


The Bobcats have now lost four straight NESCAC games, all of them by double digits. Trying to figure out what is wrong with Bates is not easy, but I think it’s just a problem of the pieces not fitting well together. Mike Boornazian ’16 has struggled to find his footing as the lead man. He is averaging 15.1 ppg in NESCAC games, but he is shooting 35.2 percent from the field and 26.2 percent from three-point land. As a team the Bobcats have the worst three-point shooting percentage at 32.0 percent, and the number drops below 30 percent when you look just at NESCAC games. Obviously the loss of Graham Safford ’15 has hurt, but it is also the absence of key perimeter players Billy Selmon ’15 and Adam Philpott ’15 that is hurting this team. Those two averaged 13.1 ppg combined last year while also being two of the team’s better perimeter defenders. Without glue guys like that, Bates has not been able to do the little things to stay in games.

Conn College’s Second Half

At halftime, the Camels owned an eight-point lead over Wesleyan. However, the wheels fell off on defense as the Cardinals pounded the ball inside and shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half. Conn College is now 3-4 in the league, but they have led at halftime for three of their losses. Blowing a second half lead is a sign of the Camels youth most likely. Closing games out in the NESCAC is hard, and Wesleyan beat Conn College on Saturday because of their experience in important games. For example, in the second half playing at home, Conn College made just ONE free throw the entire second half, going 1-6 from the charity stripe. These games are learning experiences for Conn College, and that they have them this season with so many talented youngsters is a good thing.

Middlebury Scoring

The Panthers, playing without forward Zach Baines ’19, absolutely let one get away on Saturday. A Matt St. Amour ’17 layup with 6:04 left in the game made the score 62-58 in Middlebury’s favor. The Panthers didn’t score again! Hamilton scored with one second left to win 64-62. Middlebury blew a 15 point second half lead, and the lack of scoring was tough to watch. Going cold for that long down the stretch is a freaky thing, and it won’t happen again. Middlebury relies on a balanced and deep attack, and it is usual St. Amour who hits the bucket when the Panthers absolutely need one. However, it didn’t happen on Saturday. The issue is the damage is done for the young Panthers. They will have chances to make it up, but in this year’s NESCAC where no victory is an easy one, letting a win like this one slip away hurts.

Holiday Power Rankings

Connor Green '16 has had his ups and downs, but he's the leader of a 7-0 Amherst squad and coming off of a 39-point performance against Babson. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Connor Green ’16 has had his ups and downs, but he’s the leader of a 7-0 Amherst squad and coming off of a 39-point performance against Babson. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Our effort so far this basketball season has been a little bit lacking, I will admit. As happens with this stuff, school work is getting priority over NESCAC sports blogging (somehow my mom thinks one is more important than the other. Imagine that!). Luckily, I’ve got a little window to give a quick overview of where teams are right now before they take their holiday break. I haven’t seen every single team play yet but I’m getting there.

1. Amherst (7-0)

The only undefeated team left in the league, Amherst is playing more to the level of their talent this year than it did last. As hinted at in the beginning of the year, Coach Dave Hixon has decided to go to a lineup of four shooters surrounding one big man for long stretches, including the starting lineup. He has done this type of lineup in years past, and the Jeffs don’t actually give up a lot in size since Jeff Racy ’17, Michael Riopel ’18, and Johnny McCarthy ’18 all go 6’5″or 6’6″. They are outscoring teams by 24.7 ppg so far, but a lot of that is because when it is a blowout late, Amherst’s back of the bench is still better than the teams they have played so far. Don’t get too excited when the Jeffs blow out teams by 30 because of that depth factor.

2. Wesleyan (7-1)

As many expected, the two finalists from the NESCAC championship game a year ago are the class of the league, with the Cardinals showing that their late run last year was no fluke. Their only loss to Lyndon State is a puzzling one, but it was in the first game of the season and by just two points, 80-78, so we will let that one slide. The balanced attack of last year where anybody could be the leading scorer for a given game has yielded to an attack led by BJ Davis ’16 who is averaging 19.7 ppg on 52.4 percent shooting. Davis has also kept his assist and turnover rate at the exact same as last year, so the ball being in his hands a lot has been a good thing. He also was responsible on Saturday for the game winning shot against Williams.

3. Tufts (6-2)

Nobody plays a harder season opening schedule, and the Jumbos have walked the tightrope to get to 6-2. Three of their wins have come by three points or less, though one of their losses is also by only three points. At this point last year, against a similarly difficult schedule, Tufts was 2-6 (many of those losses were close, too). Turning those close losses into wins I think is a factor of the Jumbos’ perimeter players becoming the leaders scoring-wise. It is easier to get baskets at the end of games with guards than big men. Vincent Pace ’18 (18.3 ppg) is becoming that go-to guy on the perimeter, and other guys like Tarik Smith ’17, Ryan Spadaford ’16 and Stephen Haladyna ’16 give more scoring punch out there. That has made the lack of scoring from star center Tom Palleschi ’17 (11.0 ppg) not too much of an issue.

4. Colby (5-1)

The Mules might chafe at this spot since their only loss was in overtime in the first game of the year, but they also needed a Ryan Jann ’16 three to beat a 2-5 Regis team by a point. I got to see them play on Saturday against Bowdoin, and the skill on offense is there to play with anyone. All five starters are threats to score the ball, and they do a great job of moving the ball. They lead the league with 19.5 apg, and the return of forward Patrick Stewart ’16 as someone capable of filling it up from deep is a big help. I worry about their defense which is the third-worst in ppg with 76.3. Some of that is because Colby likes to play at a fast pace, but it is still frustrating that a team with five seniors can’t play better team defense.

5. Williams (5-2)

Only one member of the rotation is a senior, two of the three top scorers are freshmen, and two starting guards are injured. Yet the Ephs are 5-2 and had an early 16-point lead over Wesleyan before ultimately losing on that BJ Davis shot. Starting point guard Mike Greenman ’17 could be back for their next game, and shooting guard Chris Galvin ’18 is also supposed to be back after Christmas. I suppose it’s better for the Ephs to be injured early on, as it’s allowing more young players to get minutes. Their game tomorrow against Springfield, a team that beat Trinity, will be another good benchmark for the young team.

6. Trinity (4-2)

Maybe this is a little bit of a disappointing start for the Bantams, but they had some questionable non-conference losses last year also and then went 9-1 in the NESCAC. Neither of their losses are particularly bad, and Coach Jim Cosgrove is also playing a very deep rotation at this point of the season. At a glance, the statistics for their big three of Ed Ogundeko ’17, Jaquann Starks ’16, and Shay Ajayi ’16 aren’t great. Then you realize that none of them is averaging more than 25.0 mpg. So while Ogundeko’s 12.5 rpg is already fantastic, it becomes flat out ridiculous when converted to per 40 minutes: 21.0 with the next closest player at 15.7 rebounds per 40 minutes. The bottom line is the Bantams have the best scoring defense and second-best rebounding margin so far. They are going to be good come NESCAC games.

7. Bowdoin (4-3)

My dear Polar Bears could have really used that win over Colby Saturday, and even though seven feels low, this is a good team, albeit with some potentially killer faults. Two of their three losses are by a combined six points. Lucas Hausman ’16 is a menace, but he isn’t a superhero. Colby did a good job in their win over the Polar Bears of harassing him and not allowing him to get to his favorite spots. Hausman still had 22 points, but it took him 22 shots to get there. For me, I’m interested to see how the identity of the team evolves. Will they become run-and-gun, completely abandoning the ethos of last year, or will they try to still retain some of that defensive identity?

8. Bates (4-2)

Bobcats fans might be a little mad at me for putting Bowdoin over them, but the Bobcats don’t have as good a win as Bowdoin does over Babson, though that Babson loss looks worse and worse every time a NESCAC team wins in overtime against the Beavers. Anyways, the loss of Graham Safford ’15 has not hurt this team offensively at all. Bates is averaging 86.8 ppg, second best in the NESCAC. Mike Boornazian ’16 is the man leading the way with 15.5 ppg. Most encouraging is that the three-point production of not only Safford but also Billy Selmon ’15 and Adam Philpott ’15 has been replaced by guys like Shawn Strickland ’18  and Josh Britten ’16. Britten barely played at all last year, and his shooting is valuable to open up space inside for the Bobcats.

9. Conn College (5-2)

Guess what, the Camels are hot right now! They’ve won five games in a row, and they just had their best win of the season over a 6-3 Eastern Connecticut team that beat Trinity earlier this week. Point guard Tyler Rowe ’19, who had 22 vs. Eastern Connecticut, has very quickly become a starter and is providing a huge spark with 12.3 ppg and 3.1 apg. David Labossiere ’19 is playing so well that the coaching staff can’t keep him off the court, and he just started his first game of the season. Some players are taking smaller roles because of it, but the Camels are playing well together. And don’t look now, but they play vs. Hamilton and Middlebury, the two teams below them in our rankings, in the first weekend of NESCAC play. Could they really open 2-0 in the NESCAC?

10. Hamilton (5-3)

The Continentals are 5-3 even though they are essentially playing without their top three scorers from last year. I say essentially because Ajani Santos ’16 is actually still on the roster and playing, but he is averaging just 1.6 ppg. He has actually been playing more and even got the start last game against Hobart. However, he scored just two points and continues to be somewhat of a mystery. If he is able to get everything straightened out, he would join Peter Hoffmann ’19 and the others on this young nucleus to make a pretty intriguing team. As it is, without him Hamilton is reliant almost entirely on perimeter scoring.

11. Middlebury (4-5)

Do I think Middlebury is the worst team in the NESCAC … well maybe, actually. At this point I can’t put them above anybody. Two of their five wins are blowouts against an 0-8 Johnson State team, but there are a couple of close losses to RPI and Skidmore. The statistics say that Middlebury is 4-5, but again that is colored by those two games vs. Johnson State. Granted, I’ve only been able to watch them for stretches online, but what I’ve seen hasn’t looked great. They have nobody who can score inside besides Matt Daley ’16, and nobody besides Matt St. Amour ’17 looks to be an average or better three point shooter. And they’re young. Daley and Connor Huff ’16 are the only seniors making an impact. We’ll see. 

Next Year’s Cats Will Have Historic Shoes To Fill: Bates Basketball Season Wrap-up

The Bates faithful made Alumni Gym a tough place to play, and they travelled in droves to Babson College to watch their Cats face Trinity in the Sweet 16. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Babson College)
The Bates faithful often made Alumni Gym a tough place to play, and they travelled in droves to Babson College to watch their Cats face Trinity in the Sweet 16. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Babson College)

Season Record: 21-7 (7-3), lost in First Round of NESCAC Championship to Wesleyan, lost in Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament to Trinity

It really was a magical season for the Jon Furbush-led Bobcats in 2014-15. The team won 21 games, topping the program’s previous record; won seven NESCAC games, also a record; hosted Bates’ first home playoff game since 2010; made its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division-III Tournament; won the CBB by sweeping Colby and Bowdoin in early December; and two guards, Graham Safford ’15 and Mike Boornazian ’16 joined the 1,000 point club. Unfortunately, all of those good vibrations did not result in a NESCAC or an NCAA Championship.

The Wesleyan Cardinals came into Alumni Gym and upset the host Bobcats in the NESCAC Quarterfinals, and the Cats fell short against Trinity in the NCAA Sweet 16. Nevertheless, the season ought to be considered a success for Coach Furbush. The question now becomes how Furbush replaces Safford, number 10 on the all-time scoring list, pesky guard Billy Selmon ’15, valuable sixth man Adam Philpott ’15 and fellow captain Cam Kaubris ’15. Luckily for Bates, Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche ’17 will be back to cause havoc yet again, and expect them both to spend a lot of time on their offensive games this offseason. The addition of a 10-foot jumper to the twins’ repertoire that already features high-flying dunks and stout rim protection would be scary for opposing teams. There will be a significant void in the backcourt that begs for a rising star to emerge.

High point: NCAA Tournament victories March 6-7

For a team that was very close to being left out of the tournament field, to best St. Vincent, a team with NCAA Tourney experience, and #17 Stockton was a monumental statement. The Sweet 16 game against Trinity has to be among the most important games in program history. If the Bobcats’ season had ended with a loss in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament it still would have been a nice year, but not the type of campaign that gets remembered. With the pair of NCAA victories, basketball players at Bates will be discussing and looking up to the 2014-15 squad for the foreseeable future.

MVP: PG Graham Safford ’15

Graham Safford '15 in front of the list of 1,000 point scorers in Bates history, a club that he joined on Jan. 6, 2015 in a 60-55 win over Brandeis (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Graham Safford ’15 in front of the list of 1,000 point scorers in Bates history, a club that he joined on Jan. 6, 2015 in a 60-55 win over Brandeis (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The work that NbN All-NESCAC First Teamer Graham Safford did this season and in his career transcended the stat sheet. Safford was like a coach on the floor, making life a bit easier for Coach Furbush. And he was pretty good statistically, too: first in the NESCAC in steals per game, third in assists per game, sixth in scoring, and he tallied 5.0 rebounds per game. It’s hard to explain what a player like Safford means to a program, and like the great point guards in the NESCAC from the 2014 class like Aaron Toomey ’14 and Joey Kizel ’14, they really are irreplaceable.

Player to Watch in 2015-16: PG Shawn Strickland ’18

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

With Selmon and Safford departing, there is a significant need for someone to step up as the point guard for Coach Furbush next season. Expect there to be growing pains. Strickland didn’t play much this season, but neither did any underclassman guard not named Boornazian. Strickland doesn’t have the size that you’d like to see in a starting point guard at 5’8″ 160 lbs., so it might be too much to ask for him to replace Safford’s production from a scoring perspective, but Strickland displays top-notch quickness so he could be a problem for opponents’ point guards on both ends. He didn’t really take enough shots to put any stock in his percentages, but his 19.0 percent rate from the field and 20.0 percentage from deep does not inspire confidence. I’m not sold that Strickland is ready (or will be by next November) to run a NESCAC basketball team, but he very well could be forced into that role.

NCAA Sweet 16 Preview: Bates College vs. Trinity College

Game Information: Bates (21-6) vs. Trinity (22-6)

Friday, March 13, 5:30 PM

Staake Gymnasium, Babson Park, MA

Live Stats  Video

In other words, there is work to be done.

It’s not unheard of for two NESCAC teams to be meeting this late into the NCAA Tournament. As a matter of fact, it happened just one year ago when Amherst and Williams duked it out in the national semifinals. What is unusual, though, is to see Bates and Trinity, two schools not known for their basketball pedigree, still alive and starting to believe that a National Championship isn’t that far-fetched of an idea.

Let’s take a moment and think about where these two teams came from. You might have heard already, but Bates College is playing in its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament, which has brought Bates alums out of the woodwork to support the current team.

“I’ve heard from players from the 1950s right up to last season. You win a few games and people become very aware of your basketball program.” – Bates Coach Jon Furbush to the Portland Press Herald,

Also, consider this: Bates was 1-9 in the NESCAC last year, the worst record in the league. Now, just over a year later, they are one win away from being the last NESCAC team standing. And when they look back on this season, there will be plenty of highlights from their NCAA Tournament run to remember. Bates’ players hope to add a few more before it is all said and done.

On the other side, Trinity had some experience with NCAA Tourney basketball before the season began. The only problem was that none of that experience came from the players. Head Coach James Cosgrove led Adelphi University to the D-II Tournament four times and Endicott to the D-III Tournament once as head coach. Assistant Coach Tyler Simms played on back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams at Trinity in 2007 and 2008, but never advanced past the first round. Now, the Bantams’ players have almost as much NCAA Tournament experience as their coaching staff.

Last time they met: Jan. 16 at Trinity. Trinity 66 – Bates 59

From 1-5, including #21 Alex Conaway '15, Trinity can defend with the best of them. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
From 1-5, including #21 Alex Conaway ’15, Trinity can defend with the best of them. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

In a game that started a miniature two-game skid for the Bobcats that seems to have been the turning point for Bates, Trinity dominated the first half and held on for a six-point lead at home. It was an off shooting night for Bates’ two top scorers, Graham Safford ’15 and Mike Boornazian ’16 (6-21, 28.6 percent, combined). Meanwhile, Trinity spread the wealth, per usual, with three players in double figures, and played its patented shutdown defense.

“Trinity has proven all season long what a great defensive team they are and against us was no exception. They did a good job scouting us and identifying some of our tendencies, but we also didn’t shoot the ball anywhere near the level we’re capable of.” – Mike Boornazian

The game was incredibly evenly-matched statistically. The only differences came in the rebounding and free throw shooting departments, both of which Trinity dominated. The Bants outrebounded Bates 42-32, and hit 20-26 free throws, compared to 11-14 for the Bobcats.

A last bit of Trinity-Bates history to nibble on. Trinity leads the all-time series 31-13, dating back to 1947. The last Bobcat victory came in February 2013.

Storylines to Watch

1. Have student fan bus, will travel

Alumni Gym in Lewiston, ME gets pretty crazy sometimes for men’s basketball games. The Staake Gymnasium is going to feel a lot like Alumni on Friday night. The tiny Babson home court (650 seats, 1,000 capacity) will provide the ideal setting for the scores (dare I say, hundreds?) of Bobcats fans who will be traveling down via a school-organized fan bus. The bus seats 55 students, and the College sold an additional 50 for students who wanted to organize their own transportation. Trinity, meanwhile, goes on spring break starting on Friday, and many students have already taken off to enjoy better weather elsewhere.

Adding to the Bobcats’ home court advantage, potentially, is that Bates has already won two games at Staake, to open the season, at the Babson Invitational, including a three-point victory over the host Beavers.

“It’ll definitely be nice to get back on the court that got us off to a 2-0 start earlier this year. We all really liked the atmosphere that the gym provided, and we have a lot of Bates supporters in the area, as well as people who will be making the trip down.  It’s going to be a fun time and always nice knowing we have Bobcat Country supporting us.” – Mike Boornazian

Trinity center Georgios Papadeas ’15 doesn’t see Babson Park as presenting a home court advantage for Bates.

“I don’t believe playing in Babson gives Bates an advantage. They didn’t win against us at that court so I believe that those two wins are irrelevant to Friday’s game.” – Georgios Papadeas

2. Frontcourt physicality

There were 42 fouls committed the last time these two squads competed, 25 by Bates. Max Eaton ’17 even earned four in just 13 minutes! Bates alone has committed 40 fouls in their two NCAA Tournament games. Both Delpeche brothers fouled out late against St. Vincent in the first round. For Trinity, they’ve faced some foul trouble in the Tournament but have managed to keep everybody on the floor. The personal foul numbers will be important to monitor in this one, though, as both teams feature tough front courts.

“I think both teams are very talented in that department.  Trinity has an impressive front court, but I also think Malc and Marc [Delpeche] have consistently proven that they are two of the best big men in the conference. It’s going to be a great battle.” – Mike Boornazian

Statistically, both teams are similar in blocks per game (Trinity, 3.9; Bates, 3.3) and rebounds per game (Trinity 39.0; Bates, 38.4), but the Bantams had a significant margin in rebounding margin (7.3, compared to 4.9 for Bates). Nevertheless, Trinity recognizes the dangerousness of the Bates big men.

“The twins are a dynamic combo. I respect their toughness. From our part we will try to be physical and block them out. They are long and athletic and extremely dangerous. We can’t let them get going.” – Georgios Papadeas

Forward Mike Newton ’15 has a more aesthetic view of what makes the Delpeche duo so formidable.

“The best part is that  they aren’t scared to bang on anyone.” – Mike Newton

When you get this look from Marcus Delpeche '17, you know that you're in trouble. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
When you get this look from Marcus Delpeche ’17, you know that you’re in trouble. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

That kind of protection at the rim allows Billy Selmon ’15 to pressure ball handlers on the perimeter and changes the offensive attack.

3. The efficiency of Bates’ guards

Even though Safford was an NbN All-NESCAC First Teamer and both he and Boornazian are 1,000 point scorers, no one would mistake the pair for a couple of Luke Westmans. Of NESCAC players that attempted at least 12.5 field goals per game (Safford has attempted exactly 12.56 FG per game, Boornazian approximately 12.7), Safford was the only player under 40 percent from the field, and Boornazian ranks fourth out of sixth. They’re both great players and among my first choices if I need to take a shot to win the game, but I think their below average shooting percentages will be particularly hurtful in this game where I don’t anticipate the Delpeches, Newton and Eaton grabbing many O boards.

4. The Trinity offense with Andrew Hurd ’16 on the court

Jaquann Starks '15 is comfortable with the ball in his hands, but Trinity's O runs smoother with Starks at the two-guard. (Courtesy of Hartford Courant/Peter Casolino).
Jaquann Starks ’16 is comfortable with the ball in his hands, but Trinity’s O runs smoother with Starks at the two-guard. (Courtesy of Hartford Courant/Peter Casolino).

Point guard Jaquann Starks ’16 gets all the press, but the Trinity offense is actually better when Hurd handles the ball and Starks shifts to the two-guard. I wish I had the advanced statistics to back up that claim, but keep an eye on this backcourt combination tonight and see for yourself. Starks isn’t much of a distributor and is probably Trinity’s best three point shooter. Hurd also brings some underestimated pesky defense to the floor with him, and can frustrate the opposing team’s point man. He gives up quite a bit of size and strength to Safford, though, so Hurd may be better suited to keep Selmon from making an impact on offense.  For Selmon’s part, he will be blanketing Starks all day, which means that the pressure is on Hurd to make an impact offensively.

5. Late game execution

Bates is looking for a shot at redemption against Trinity. (Courtesy of Portland Press Herald/Gabe Souza)
The Bobcats are looking for a shot at redemption against Trinity. (Courtesy of Portland Press Herald/Gabe Souza)

I would be shocked if this game turned into a blowout. Therefore, it will come down to which team executes better in crunch time, and who makes their free throws. Neither team was fantastic hitting free throws this season, but Trinity held a slight edge. When it comes to closing out ball games, the general perception is that Bates has the advantage because of the heroics of Safford and Boornazian. Sometimes nerves get in the way when players are unsure of what to do as the seconds tick away. That doesn’t happen with Safford.

“It’s amazing. There are times when I want to make a call in the game, and he’s bringing the ball up and before I even say it, he calls it. … He’s absolutely another coach on the floor. … I think what he does from a sheer leadership standpoint is the reason why we’re successful.” – Bates Head Coach John Furbush to the Sun Journal.

However, of the Bantams’ 22 wins, 10 have come by six points or less. And I don’t think that is because Trinity isn’t dominant. I think it’s because they enjoy playing in close games. When the going gets tough, the defense gets tougher, and teams have a brutal time getting buckets. Additionally, if Bates wants to put its best free throw shooting team on the floor, they’d have to take off a lot of the starters. Safford, is the only starter for Bates that shot over 80 percent from the stripe. Meanwhile, Trinity can put Starks (89.5 percent), Hurd (88.9 percent), Chris Turnbull ’17 (85.7 percent), Papadeas (78.1 percent) and Rick Naylor ’16 (77.8 percent) or Shay Ajayi ’16 (71.3 percent) on the court and not give up too much defensively.

Trinity X-Factor: Ed Ogundeko ’17

It had to be a big guy, right? Ogundeko was playing like a grown man down the stretch this season, putting up huge rebounding numbers and a couple of nice offensive performances despite not playing much more than 20 minutes per game. In the NCAA Tournament Ogundeko has played 24 minutes total. Coach Cosgrove has basically relied on his starting five plus Hurd to win ball games. But, in a matchup where both front lines go deep and I could foresee a flurry of fouls on either side, I think the time is ripe for Ogundeko to step back up. I don’t need big scoring out of him, I just need him to stop whichever Delpeche is feeling it at the time.

Bates X-Factor: Adam Philpott ’15

For Bates, it’s no secret that the starting five does most of the heavy lifting, but Philpott does a lot of the little things that make a team go. He can do a little bit of everything offensively, and fits right in with Coach Jon Furbush’s feisty defense. Boornazian called Philpott the best sixth man in the NESCAC. He’ll have to play like it to best the Bantams on Friday.

“For me embracing the role of sixth man with the talent that we have was very easy. … [Graham Safford’s and Mike Boornazian’s] ability to beat their defender and get into the lane creates a lot of open opportunities for me on the perimeter and it’s my job to knock them down.” – Adam Philpott


Before we go any further, let me say a big congratulations to both teams for making this unexpected run to the Sweet 16. That being said, I don’t think either squad would be content with calling it quits now. Both squads believe that they can win a national title for the first time in school history. And these have to be two of the toughest, grittiest teams in all of Division-III, which should make for some must-watch TV.

How is this one going to play out? Expect it to be back-and-forth all day. If Bates can grab some offensive rebounds that will lead to some easy buckets and make up for some of the guards’ missed jumpers. I don’t expect Trinity to shoot much better, though. This one could be ugly.

Don’t expect the crowd noise to get into the Bantams’ heads too much.

“As athletes though we have trained to focus on the game and block  all other factors that don’t contribute to the game.” – Georgios Papadeas

I really don’t think, even down the stretch, that 100-plus screaming Bobcats fans will change the outcome of this game. Whether the crowd is cheering for or against you, there are bound to be jitters when you’re in a single possession game as the clock ticks down.

All right, enough preamble. I’ve gone back and forth on this game all day, so let me just make a pick and stick to it. I’m going with the Bantams, partly because they’ve beaten Bates before, partly because they’ve given up just 51.0 points per contest in the NCAA Tournament. Partly because, as Sean Meekins reported, Bates basketball wears seat belts on the bus. I jest, of course. Everyone should wear seat belts all the time.

So there it is. We’ve picked against Bates twice now, and gotten it wrong both times. We’ve also picked in favor of Trinity, and gotten it right both times. Something’s gotta give.

Final Line: Trinity 59 – Bates 52

Survive and Advance Is the Name of the Game: Stock Report 3/9

Though it doesn’t get the publicity that the D-I tournament does, the D-III hoops tourney is even more chaotic and wide-open than what is commonly called March Madness. The first two rounds of the tournament are played on back-to-back days. Keeping track of all the action is borderline impossible, but somehow the miracle workers at do it.

Luckily for us, we only worry about one conference, though with four NESCAC teams in the tournament it was still a little crazy. Wesleyan lost in the first round to Skidmore while Amherst fell in the second round to St. John Fisher. However, Bates and Trinity both won their Regionals and now will face against each other at Babson at 5:30 PM on Friday.

Stock Up

Shooting Guard Mike Boornazian ’16 (Bates)

Well let’s see, Boornazian averaged 20.0 PPG, helped Bates advance to the Sweet 16, and scored his 1,000 career point. Not a bad weekend. Friday night Boornazian played second banana as Graham Safford ’15 controlled the proceedings with 30 points and 10 assists. On Saturday against Stockton, Safford struggled a bit, and it was Boornazian who carried the load. He finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He scored 14 of his points in the first half before going cold for most of the second half. Boornazian did a good job of adjusting and handed out all three of his assists during the second half, including one very pretty layoff that led to an easy Adam Philpott ’15 layup. Combined with a big game from Malcolm Delpeche ’17 (17 points and 10 rebounds), Boornazian helped the Bobcats overcome a subpar game from Safford and advance. Guard play becomes magnified in the tournament, and Bates should feel confident knowing they have both Safford and Boornazian.

Trinity Defense

They call the NCAAs the Big Dance, and the Bantams made sure to dance with the one that got them there: their defensive effort. The Bantams had started clamping down already before their loss to Wesleyan in the NESCAC semifinals (the score was 55-52 after all), but something tells me that Coach Jim Cosgrove was able to really get the message through to his players because of that loss. Things looked bad for Trinity early as their first round opponent, Colby-Sawyer, came out firing and held a 24-8 lead with 10:27 left in the first half. Then Trinity regrouped during a 20-second timeout and allowed only SIX points for the rest of the half. After scoring 24 points in 9:33, it took Colby-Sawyer exactly 26 minutes to score their next 24 points. At that point the score was 53-48 in the Bantams’ favor, and the Bantams hung on for the victory. Then Trinity played even better defense on Saturday holding Salisbury to 47 points on 29.5 percent shooting.

Shay Ajayi '16 tallied 22 points and 12 boards in the Bantams' two victories this weekend. (Courtesy of Trinity Sports Information/
Shay Ajayi ’16 tallied 22 points and 12 boards in the Bantams’ two victories this weekend. (Courtesy of Trinity Sports Information/

Point Guard Andrew Hurd ’16 (Trinity)

Though he comes off the bench, Hurd was crucial for Trinity this weekend. Hurd, a transfer from Central Connecticut State this fall, has become a more integral part of Trinity’s success as the season has gone along. When he is in the game, he takes over the primary ball-handling duties and allows Jaquann Starks ’16 to work off the ball. Unlike Starks, Hurd looks to pass when he gets into the lane, and his two assists in the final minutes were the difference for Trinity against Colby-Sawyer. Though he is only 5’10” and 160 lbs (he looks like he weighs even less if that is possible), Hurd is a very good defender. He seems to have an innate sense of knowing what the opposing ball-handler is going to do. He combines that with great lateral movement and quick hands to get a lot of steals. He had seven alone this weekend. Hurd adds another wrinkle to Trinity that makes them tougher on both ends of the floor.

NESCAC Overall

I think this weekend demonstrated just how good of a league the NESCAC is. Williams, Amherst and Middlebury are all known and respected nationwide as great programs because of their success, and some people wrote off the NESCAC as simply not being very good this year because those teams weren’t on top. So for the league to go 5-2 this weekend and send two teams to the Sweet 16 is very impressive. Bates and Trinity are certainly not associated with basketball, even though Trinity has won in the not so distant past. Over the past three seasons, seven different teams from the NESCAC have made it into the tournament. That number could very well jump up even further next season if Colby or Tufts delivers on the promise we saw this season. But first, we have one final NESCAC match-up to dissect and predict.

Stock Down


Wesleyan was unquestionably the hottest team entering the tournament while Amherst was also playing well entering this weekend. However, it was Bates and Trinity, the two teams that struggled down the stretch, that ended up advancing. Now you might be saying, ‘What do you mean Trinity struggled down the stretch? They went 9-1 in the NESCAC and barely lost in the semifinals to Wesleyan?’ Well, Trinity had won five of their last six games by single digits (the other game was against Conn College) before losing to Wesleyan. Obviously the Bantams’ style means they play close games, but this was still a concerning trend. The time off seemed to help Bates a lot in terms of regaining their mojo while the loss for Trinity helped them to refocus. Obviously, Wesleyan winning the NESCAC tournament is the biggest accomplishment of any team this season unless the winner of Bates-Trinity ends up going to the Final Four. I just want to point out that counting out teams because they haven’t been playing well lately can make you look stupid. That is what Bates did to me as I picked against them twice.

Point Guards Jayde Dawson ’18 and Reid Berman ’17 (Amherst)

As good as Reid Berman '17 was on Friday, he struggled on Saturday and sat out for much of the second half with foul trouble. (Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information/
As good as Reid Berman ’17 was on Friday, he struggled on Saturday and sat out for much of the second half with foul trouble. (Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information/

If you have read us all season, you know how much we have focused on the point guard situation for Amherst since the graduation of Aaron Toomey ’14. First, we do need to acknowledge that Berman played a fantastic game on Friday finishing with a career high 28 points. Unfortunately on Saturday neither point guard had a very good game which was just part of the reason why Amherst lost. The Jeffs ran into a St. John Fisher team that shot the ball lights out from deep (22-23 from the line too), and they couldn’t keep up because their offense was too disjointed. Dawson and Berman combined for 13 points, five assists, and six turnovers.


Of course Bowdoin didn’t play this weekend, but it must have hurt the Polar Bears to watch Bates advance to the Sweet 16 and not just because Bates and Bowdoin are such bitter rivals. After all, it was only a few weeks ago that Bowdoin demolished Bates 98-70 in Brunswick in a game that showed just how good the Polar Bears were. However, they missed out on the tournament by a couple of spots and ended up at home this weekend. The Polar Bears still might have had to win the NESCAC tournament just to make it into the Dance though. Bowdoin will not enjoy watching Bates take on Trinity, a team they lost to by one point.


NCAA Second Round Preview: Bates College at No. 17 Stockton University

Game Information: Bates (20-6) at Stockton (23-5)

Saturday, March 7, 7:00 PM

Sports Center at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ

Live Stats   Video

The prize for winning in the first round is turning right around 24 hours later and doing it all over again. In Bates’ first NCAA tournament in more than 50 years, The Bobcats turned on the jets and shook off some late turnovers to win 92-80 over St. Vincent. In the late game Stockton, the host of the regional, took care of business easily against Endicott winning by 20. This will now be the second straight year that Stockton will take on a NESCAC team. Last season Stockton (then called Richard Stockton … that took us a while to figure out.) beat Bowdoin in the first round of the tournament before going on to shock a highly ranked Cabrini team and making the Sweet 16.

Josh Blamon '15 dropped 24 points and grabbed five boards in Stockton's opening round victory. (Courtesy of Stockton Athletics)
Josh Blamon ’15 dropped 24 points and grabbed five boards in Stockton’s opening round victory. (Courtesy of Stockton Athletics)

However, much more than just the university name has changed. Bates shouldn’t even bother asking Bowdoin Coach Tim Gilbride about the Ospreys because only two players who scored for Stockton last year are still on the roster. Most of the players from last years team either graduated or or no longer with the team for some reason or another. Yet, one of the two remaining players was Josh Blamon ’15 who just won the NJAC Player of the Year Award. The junior will likely receive All-American honors of some sort at the end of the year. He will be a challenge for Mike Boornazian ’16 and Billy Selmon ’15 to guard.

Three Storylines to Watch

1. Who Steps up for Stockton?

Stockton is pretty much a two-man show with Blamon and junior transfer Armin Cane ’16 being the only two consistent scoring threats. The third highest scorer is Marcus Harmon ’18 with only 7.3 PPG. The Ospreys have managed to deal with the loss of the starting point guard Nate Pacius ’16 for the year, but they will need others to step up. Cane and Blamon will score points, I am sure of that, but if Bates gets anywhere close to the 92 they put up yesterday, there is no way those two alone can carry the load. Whoever it is doesn’t need to go off, but they need to hit a couple of threes and maybe get to the line a couple of times just so that Bates can’t gear its defense at two guys.

 2. Does Bates shoot well again?

Nobody on the Bates roster is really a knockdown shooter. But it feels like when one player starts to see the ball go through the hoop, other Bobcats gain a little more confidence and hit more shots too. Yesterday, Boornazian, Safford and Adam Philpott ’15 each hit multiple threes, but nobody else was able to hit shots from deep. The Bobcats should be comfortable in the Stockton gym after having a couple of practices and a game there the last few days. Hitting threes is critical for Bates in the half court offense where they can sometimes become too reliant on Safford driving and him scoring or someone else getting an offensive rebound underneath. Selmon did not hit a three yesterday, and he is a guy capable of hitting a bunch in a row if he gets going.

The Stockton faithful will be louder than ever as the Ospreys play for a Sweet 16 berth. (Courtesy of Stockton Athletics)
The Stockton faithful will be louder than ever as the Ospreys play for a Sweet 16 berth. (Courtesy of Stockton Athletics)

3. Will fatigue be a factor?

Midway through the second half when Bates was up 20, I was hoping that they would be able to extend the lead a little more so that guys like Safford and Boornazian would be able to get just a little more rest than usual. That didn’t happen, but both of them looked fresh down the stretch. The turnaround for NCAA games is very quick. Bates might actually might have a slight advantage in that they get to sleep at a quiet hotel while Stockton players had to sleep around friends celebrating their Friday nights. It will be hard to tell by watching the game how fatigued players are because they will be loathe to not play hard. Instead look at how each team shoots and how many turnovers they have to get some a handle on really how much gas they have in the tank.

Bates X-Factor: Point Guard Graham Safford ’15

As good as Safford has been at points this season, yesterday was his first time scoring 30 points this season. Granted, he only got to that mark because St. Vincent kept fouling and sending him to the free throw line in the waning minutes. Still, he looked comfortable getting into the lane and scored on a number of nice layups. He also managed to hand out 10 assists compared to three turnovers. He was also able to get just a little bit of rest. As we mentioned before, the fact that the NCAA insists on every game having media timeouts every four minutes of game time is a huge boon for Safford. The senior certainly knows that this could be his last game, but it is hard to tell because he maintains such a cool demeanor most of the time.

As always, Graham Safford '15 will be the driving force behind the Bobcats attack. (Courtesy of Daryn Slover/Bates College Athletics)
As always, Graham Safford ’15 will be the driving force behind the Bobcats attack. (Courtesy of Daryn Slover/Bates College Athletics)

Stockton X-Factor: Forward Anthony Woodward ’15

Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche ’17 both enjoyed solid games before both fouling out down the stretch. They will once again enjoy a height advantage over Stockton, but it will not be nearly as pronounced Woodward is one of several 6’5″ players for Stockton, and he is their best rebounder. After coming off the bench last season, he has started almost every game and averages 5.9 RPG in 26.6 MPG. The NJAC is known as a hard-nosed league so Woodward will be ready to use his body down low. Stockton is not a great rebounding team overall, and Bates just had a rebounding margin of +11 yesterday. Woodward needs to be a force in the paint to neutralize the advantage Bates has inside.


Bates certainly looked better yesterday than they had in a couple of weeks, but their inability to put St. Vincent away left a sour taste in my mouth. Without one of the Delpeche brothers in the game, the Bates interior defense melted away.  Obviously it was somewhat flukish that both of them fouled out, but there were way too many easy layups in the second half for St. Vincent. Bates has already exceeded our expectations for them by winning their first round game. They relied heavily on Boornazian and Safford yesterday in pretty much every facet of the game. The two combined for 52 points, and we know they are capable of doing that again.

The Bobcats proved us wrong yesterday, and we hope they prove us wrong again, but Stockton is too good of a team to lose on their home-court in this situation. Even though if you look at the statistics Stockton does not look like a 23-5 team, they know how to win close games. With a go-to scorer in Blamon and a home crowd behind them, Stockton should be able to get past the Bobcats.

Prediction: 71 Stockon – 64 Bates

Last Chance to Buy or Sell: Stock Report 2/22

The disappointment was evident for Adam Philpott '15 and Co. after the loss on Saturday, but Bates still resides on the Pool C bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
The disappointment was evident for Adam Philpott ’15 and Co. after the loss on Saturday, but Bates still resides on the Pool C bubble for the NCAA Tournament. (Courtesy of Daryn Slover for Bates College)

It was a wild quarterfinals Saturday in the NESCAC, and we laid out our initial reactions in this video Saturday night, but we’ve now had a bit of time to digest all the action and think about how those results will impact Championship Weekend. We had two games go as expected with #1 Trinity and #2 Bowdoin sealing victories, and two underdogs win on the road in hostile environments.

Stock Up

The NbN Team

I got so caught up in the excitement of Saturday’s games that I almost didn’t realize that as a team we went 4-0 in our predictions, and Adam’s snipe of the Wesleyan upset was really impressive. He almost pinned the score, too. Obviously, no one wants to read about us, they want to read about the players. But I thought we deserved a quick little pat on the back, so excuse our self-indulgence.

Amherst Center David George ’17

Back to business now. George was an animal on Saturday. I don’t know if the big man reads the blog, but maybe he got a little riffed that I called out his offensive game in my Amherst-Tufts preview. Well, touché, my friend. George went 6-13 from the field and 7-8 from the stripe for 19 points in addition to 10 rebounds and two rejections. He was able to stay out of foul trouble, as well, which shouldn’t go overlooked given the Twin Towers with which he was forced to match up (though Hunter Sabety ’17 was far below 100 percent). As I said in the game preview, a productive George arguably makes Amherst the favorite for the NESCAC Championship. He will need to play well against Bowdoin’s seven-footer, John Swords ’15, and if the Lord Jeffs get through that game he will have another tall order if he goes against the strong Trinity frontcourt. If Wesleyan were to pull off another upset and meet Amherst in the championship George will still be an x-factor because the Cardinals’ strength is the backcourt, meaning George would have the opportunity to dominate.

Class of 2016 Player of the Year Candidates: Lucas Hausman ’16 and Connor Green ’16

Adam wrote earlier this year about the talented junior class in the NESCAC this year when Green topped 1,000 points in his career, and the class of 2016 has not slowed down, especially not these two. I think writer Peter Lindholm described it best via Twitter:

Hausman has now claimed a commanding lead in the scoring race, and will almost definitely end up with the crown unless he goes ice cold this weekend. His point totals since January 24 at Colby: 24, 30, 19, 32, 21, 44, 16, 17 and 37. And he’s not a phenomenal outside shooter. He gets most of his buckets by getting into the lane, drawing contact and finishing contested shots. When he gets to the line he is nearly automatic (88.0 percent on the year). And he’s been Bowdoin’s only consistent scorer all season.

Green’s advantage is his size and ability to rebound. Johnny McCarthy ’18 and Dan Wohl ’15 are the only perimeter players with more rebounds than Green. Green also stretches the floor a little better as he’s knocking down over 40 percent of his trey balls.

Both of these guys are phenomenal players capable of taking over games, and I expect fireworks when they go at it on Saturday.

Wesleyan Forward Joe Edmonds ’16

Head Coach Joe Reilly has settled on a starting five that rarely leaves the floor. All fives of Reilly’s starters against Bates played at least 29 minutes, and for Edmonds, who has started 14 of 25 games this year, that was his third consecutive game starting and playing over 30 minutes. His two highest-scoring games have come over that stretch as well. The Cardinals essentially run out three point guards in Harry Rafferty ’17, BJ Davis ’16 and Jack Mackey ’16, so there are a lot of drive and kick opportunities, and Edmonds, as the best three point shooter on the roster, really has the ability to make an impact for the Cardinals. He did just that in the win over Bates, leading the Cards with 22 points and going 5-6 from deep.

Stock Down

Offense of the Trinity Frontcourt

Trinity was looking unbeatable recently, coupling a suddenly explosive offense with its usual lockdown D, but the Bantams put up a mediocre 66 points against a Colby team whose tallest impact player, besides Sam Willson ’16, is its point guard, Luke Westman ’16. The combination of Alex Conaway ’15, George Papadeas ’15, Shay Ajayi ’16 and Ed Ogundeko ’17 isn’t exactly known for its collective offensive skill set, and the big guys didn’t play badly on Saturday (combined 11-22 from the field), but each and every one of them had size and strength advantages over their defenders and didn’t dominate like they should have. Down the stretch Ogundeko made a big impact with 11 points in the second half, but he was the only one to make a difference. The defense is fine, and will still give the Bantams a chance to win it all, but they will need some low-post scoring to win two games next weekend.

Amherst Guard Jeff Racy ’17

Since exploding for 30 points on 10-14 three-point shooting at Conn. College on February 6, Racy is 9-27 (33.3 percent) from deep. For a 41.3 percent three-point shooter on the season, that is not so great. I had Racy as my x-factor in the Lord Jeffs’ matchup with Tufts. As it turned out they didn’t need much from Racy as the game was over before it even started, but going forward, Green and Racy are the only guys that scare opposing defenses when they rise up from beyond the arch, so Amherst needs Racy to get hot once again.

Wesleyan Point Guard Triumvirate

Mackey and the Cards pulled off the big upset against the Bobcats, despite poor shooting from the Wesleyan guards. (Courtesy of Daryn Slover for Bates College)
Mackey and the Cards pulled off the big upset against the Bobcats, despite poor shooting from the Wesleyan guards. (Courtesy of Daryn Slover for Bates College)

Mackey made it into our Stock Up section last week, and he had another fine game on Saturday against Bates (18 points, 7-18 FG, 4-12 3PT FG, 6 rebounds), but his running mates, Davis and Rafferty, were anemic on the offensive end. They’re both really quality shooters so to see them go so cold was a surprise. I have a lot of concerns for Wesleyan this weekend. They’re undersized on the perimeter, they rely on the three-point shot, they have little depth, and they don’t have a clear go-to guy that they can hand the ball to at the end of a game. Of course that’s not always necessary. I’m sure that any of the trio would be comfortable with the ball in his hands in the final seconds. But Coach Joe Reilly is leaning so heavily on this group that I doubt that they can sustain a high level of play for the 80 minutes that will be necessary to take home the crown this weekend. Furthermore, their games are too similar. Davis brings a bit more quickness and driving ability to the floor than the others, Rafferty is a lefty and a really smooth shooter with range and Mackey likes to shoot off the dribble, but when it comes down to it they are all point guards who want to score the basketball. The unconventional lineup can cause problems against some opponents, but when it doesn’t work out you can have stat lines like the combined 11-36 (30.6 percent) from the field that Mackey, Davis and Rafferty put together on Saturday.

How They Stack Up: Power Rankings 2/18

Our usual Power Rankings writer, the esteemed Dave Peck, is busy this week with work and other endeavors so I am going to fill in for the week. Keep that in mind if these rankings look very different from the ones last week. However, I think Dave has been doing a fantastic job and have not made too many changes, though one of my decisions near the bottom might surprise you.

1. Trinity (19-5, 9-1) Last Week: 1

This Saturday will mark exactly one month since the Bantams lost a game. Trinity fell to Fisher, an NAIA school, on January 21 and has won six NESCAC games since then. Nothing much has changed since last week for them. They handled their business against Middlebury for 38 minutes, but the Panthers did make a late comeback to make things interesting. Trinity continues to get little respect nationally, as they are not ranked in the D3Hoops poll and were below Amherst and Bates in the first NCAA regional rankings.

Captain Hart Gliedman '15 made life miserable for the Panthers' Dylan Sinnickson '15 in Trinity's last regular season game, a 90-85 win at Middlebury. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Captain Hart Gliedman ’15 made life miserable for the Panthers’ Dylan Sinnickson ’15 with outstanding perimeter defense in Trinity’s last regular season game, a 90-85 win at Middlebury. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

2. Bowdoin (17-7, 7-3) Last Week: 6

The Polar Bears rocketed up the standings this weekend, and now they rocket up the Power Rankings. Plenty has been said about back-to-back NESCAC Player of the Week Lucas Hausman ’16 and his improvement this season, but one should not overlook the improved quality of play from his classmates Matt Palecki ’16 and Jake Donnelly ’16. Palecki has settled into the power forward position and is even providing some needed three point shooting, and Donnelly is also now in the starting lineup as a third guard. His contributions do not always come through on the stat sheet, but he is the best perimeter defender for Bowdoin and is the primary ball-handler when Bryan Hurley ’15 needs a rest.

3. Amherst (18-6, 6-4) Last Week: 3

The Jeffs bungled their chance to get the number two seed in the NESCAC tournament and subsequently hurt their NCAA at-large chances with a loss Sunday to Middlebury. Yet the loss does not really change our opinion of the Jeffs. Besides Connor Green ’16, nobody played well for Amherst, and there is way too much talent on the roster for that to happen again. The key for Dave Hixon will be figuring who has the hot hand and get them on the court as much as possible Saturday.

4. Bates (19-5, 7-3) Last Week: 2

The Bobcats second game against Bowdoin went completely differently than the first one which was a rout for Bates. Do not put too much stock into this loss because the Bobcats ran into the perfect storm for Bowdoin. The important thing is that they took care of business Saturday against Colby and now have a home game against Wesleyan in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. This is most likely the final home game for Bates this season, and seniors Graham Safford ’15, Adam Philpott ’15, Cam Kaubris ’15 and Billy Selmon ’15 would love to finish their final season at Alumni Gym undefeated.

5. Tufts (13-11, 6-4) Last Week: 5

It is starting to seem like Tufts has simply been treading water the last couple of weeks since Hunter Sabety ’17 got hurt. The Jumbos went 3-3 in their final six NESCAC games without him. To be fair, those three losses were all by single digits and Tufts was either winning or tied at halftime of each of them. Tom Palleschi ’16 has benefited from the extra space on the inside and has been scintillating to watch lately. However, he went cold down the stretch against Bowdoin, a big reason why Tufts could not keep up at the very end.

6. Wesleyan (16-8, 5-5) Last Week: 9

No team made a bigger statement in their two games last weekend than the Cardinals. They went from squarely on the bubble of making the tournament to the sixth seed and a chance to redeem a close lose against Bates. The Cardinals are a very unselfish, balanced team that had four players finish with 11 or more PPG over the course of the regular season. No other team did that, even though as a team Wesleyan was only the fifth highest scoring team this season.

7. Williams (15-9, 5-5) Last Week: 4

The final weekend did not treat Williams as well as they might have hoped. Wesleyan ended up blowing out Williams at Chandler Gym in what was one of the worst shooting performances for the Ephs all season. In fairness, a lot of the shots they missed seemed to rattle in and out, but the fact remains that Williams lives and dies by the three. While that makes them a terrifying opponent to play against, the chances of them having three straight great shooting games in a row to win the NESCAC tournament are long.

8. Middlebury (17-7, 4-6) Last Week: 8

I know that Middlebury did not make the playoffs, but after watching them play Amherst, you think Trinity is thankful that they are playing Colby and not Middlebury? That is no disrespect to Colby, but the Mules are a different team without Chris Hudnut ’16. The improvement of Matt St. Amour ’17 (19.6 PPG, 62.7 percent FG [32-51] in his last six games) as the year went along is an encouraging sign for a Middlebury team that will look to get the program back quickly to the high level it was performing at a few years ago.

Once he recovered from an ankle sprain suffered in late January, St. Amour looked like a different player. The Vermont native will be at the center of Middlebury's reloading effort in 2015-16. (Courtesy of Michael O'Hara/Middlebury Campus)
Once he recovered from an ankle sprain suffered in late January, Matt St. Amour ’17 looked like a different player. The Vermont native will be at the center of Middlebury’s reloading effort in 2015-16. (Courtesy of Michael O’Hara/Middlebury Campus)

9. Colby (13-11, 4-6) Last Week: 7

Give credit to Colby: they are fighting like crazy and having a lot of guys step up in order to stay competitive right now. Not many teams could have lost their projected starting power forward and center and still lose to Tufts and Bates by single digits. While an upset of Trinity is a longshot, it certainly is not impossible. Luke Westman ’16 and Ryan Jann ’16 are right up there as one of the top backcourts in the league. Both of them need to play superbly Saturday.

10. Hamilton (14-10, 2-8) Last Week: 10

The Continentals closed out their season with a victory over the Mules. Despite the 2-8 record, there were a lot of positives for the Continentals who had to deal with the unexpected loss of Matt Hart ’16 to transfer. Joseph Lin ’15 was one of the best stories of the season, but he suffered an unfortunate injury that cut short his campaign. On Saturday for his final home game, Conn College allowed Lin one last basket at home.

11. Conn College (7-16, 0-10) Last Week: 11

For the second time in three seasons, the Camels finished the season without a win in conference. The good news is that everyone should be back next year for Conn, barring any transfers. There appears to be a foundation for at least respectability in place in New London, but winning will not come easy for Conn. The current sophomore and freshmen classes are both big so Conn will rely on the growth of those players next year.



Time to Shuffle the Deck: Weekend Preview 2/6

Malcolm Delpeche '17 dunks against Wesleyan last weekend. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Jensen and Bates Athletics)
Malcolm Delpeche ’17 dunks against Wesleyan last weekend. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Jensen and Bates Athletics)

The penultimate weekend of the NESCAC schedule should clear up the logjam in the middle of the conference. Only a game and half separates teams 2-9 right now, meaning that Colby, currently not even making the NESCAC tournament, would very likely be the #2 seed if they won their final three conference games. Now, that isn’t likely to happen, but it just goes to show that the standings are a mess right now. This might be the weekend when teams sort themselves out and some wannabe contenders reveal themselves as pretenders.

With the NESCAC tournament right around the corner, teams are jostling to get one of the top four spots in order to host a first round game. Any team that goes 2-0 this weekend has a good chance of accomplishing just that.

Three Players to Watch

1. Shooting Guard Mike Boornazian ’16 (Bates): Boornazian might be the most underrated player in the NESCAC. He is capable of guarding every position besides center because of his exceptional length. This weekend will be a treat with Boornazian tasked with slowing down Player of the Year favorite Dan Wohl ’15. The two are physically very similar: 6’5″ guards who are fluid enough to handle the ball. Boornazian is also no slouch on the offensive end. He only shoots 39.8 percent from the field to average 14.8 PPG, but he is crucial for taking pressure off of Graham Safford ’15. He can act as a secondary ball-handler when needed also. On Tuesday Safford sat out in order to rest, and Boornazian had one of his best games of the season finishing with 26 points. He might be overlooked at the end of the year for league awards, but Boornazian is critical for the Bobcats.

2. Power Forward Drew Madsen ’17 (Tufts): Per the Tufts student newspaper, Hunter Sabety ’17 sustained what appeared to be a serious knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year. If that is the case, then it is time to get familiar with Madsen, the talented 6’7″ backup to Sabety. He was already a part of the rotation before the injury, and now he will see his minutes climb even more. He has not put up tremendous per minute stats in his limited time so do not expect him to simply replace Sabety. However, he is a big body with enough skill to make plays. Given the ability of Tom Palleschi ’17 to make jumpers, Madsen should consider only ever leaving the paint when he needs to avoid a three second call. The rest of the time he should be battling position for any offensive rebound. Sabety, for all of his offensive prowess, was not a fantastic defender, so Madsen could offset his lack of offensive skill that way.

3. Shooting Guard Ryan Jann ’16 (Colby): The Mules started NESCAC play 3-0, and for a brief span they were at the top of the NESCAC standings. Since then they have lost their last four NESCAC games and found out Chris Hudnut ’16 is out with a knee injury for the rest of the year. Luke Westman ’16 is a great player, but his lack of a jump shot means he is not capable of being a go-to scorer. So now the sharpshooter Jann is the number one option for Colby. He exploded for 27 against Trinity, and he looked comfortable finding space to get his shot off. He has also gotten better as a distributor this year, but it is his scoring that will be most needed. The Mules need one more win to get into the NESCAC tournament, and Jann will have to shoot them there.

 Three Games to Watch

3. Sunday 1:00 PM: Middlebury (15-4, 3-3) at Bowdoin (14-6, 4-3)

This is the NbN grudge match between myself and Joe. Last season saw Middlebury pull out a close victory because Coach Tim Gilbride called a timeout when he didn’t have one after Bowdoin tied the game with under five seconds remaining. The two rosters look very different than they did a year ago with Dylan Sinnickson ’15, Hunter Merryman ’15 and John Swords ’15 the only starters returning. How Middlebury defends Lucas Hausman ’16 could decide the game. The Panthers love to push the pace, but Hausman is exceptional in transition, even though as a team Bowdoin does not like to go fast because of their short rotation. Jake Brown ’17 usually takes on opponents’ point guards, but he might guard Hausman for stretches because of his quickness. Though Matt St. Amour ’17 is a good team defender who draws a lot of charges, he is still not as quick as he was before his ACL injury.

Given how Connor Green ’16 went off last weekend against the Polar Bears, Dylan Sinnickson ’15 could be primed for a big day. After struggling somewhat by his lofty standards in conference play, Sinnickson has averaged 25.0 PPG and 15.5 RPG in his last two games. He and Brown should look to attack John Swords ’15 at the basket because of the depleted Bowdoin backcourt, but an underrated improvement from Swords has been his ability to stay out of foul trouble in nearly every game, only fouling out once all season. The loser of this game will all but certainly be forced to go on the road in the first round of the NESCAC tournament.

2. Friday 7:00 PM: Williams (12-7, 3-3) at Bates (15-4, 4-2)

The Bobcats are a perfect 10-0 at home this season, and their fans are sure to come out for the final home games of the season this weekend. Beating them in Alumni Gymnasium, especially in what could be the seniors’ final home games, is going to be a tall task. Even though Williams is only 3-3, they just smacked Middlebury in their only game last weekend. Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 looks 100 percent again after missing time due to a hand injury.

We all know Williams is going to play with Dan Aronowitz ’17 as an undersized power forward and Ryan Kilcullen ’15 at center, so the question becomes whether Bates coach Jon Furbush is capable of playing two big men for most of the game. He will want to keep both Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche ’17 on the floor for most of the game in order to control the boards and get easy baskets. However, Aronowitz will look to attack using his combination of shooting and slashing against a bigger defender. Bates can also easily go small with Adam Philpott ’15 acting as power forward. The chess match between the two youngest coaches in the NESCAC, Furbush and Kevin App, will be fun. App has played a tight rotation all season, but he could mix things up and play Darrias Sime ’16 or Edward Flynn ’16 for longer minutes.

Ultimately, a great deal of Williams’ games come down to how they shoot the ball. Because they shoot so many threes, when a lot of them go in they are hard to beat. Bates will try to make up for that by destroying the Ephs on the glass and sticking to shooters as closely as possible. This is going to be the most fun game to watch because of the possibility for offensive fireworks and a first rate atmosphere.

1. Friday 7:00 PM: Trinity (16-5, 6-1) at Wesleyan (14-6, 3-3)

In the same year that the University of Virginia is in the Top Five behind a suffocating defense, the Bantams are on top of the NESCAC in much the same way. By the way, Jaquann Starks ’16 has been absolutely en fuego from beyond the arc recently. In NESCAC play he is shooting the third best percentage from deep, 56.2 percent, while making the third most threes per game, 2.6. In fact, he is shooting a higher percentage from three than he is from the field. Though Trinity wants him to continue to get into the lane, they would prefer he simply continue to nail shots from downtown. Though we have harped on how Trinity’s balance means different guys step up every game, Starks is the one guy they need to perform. In the three Bantam loses in 2015, Starks has averaged an anemic 3.0 PPG, well below his 13.4 PPG season average.

Wesleyan needs to not back down from the physical presence of Trinity. An underrated part of the Bantams defense is how uncomfortable they make things on the perimeter for teams, so it helps that Wesleyan can rely on BJ Davis ’16, Jack Mackey ’16 or Harry Rafferty ’17 to handle the ball. Davis in particular is adept at getting into the lane, and even if he isn’t finishing amongst the big men, it could stretch the Trinity defense enough to get Mackey open looks. Both teams will be fine with a slow plodding pace. That should keep the game in the 50s, meaning that this game might come down to offensive execution in the final five minutes. There the edge goes to Trinity, who, even though they don’t play great offense overall, manage to find ways to grind out points at the end of the game. When these two met last year, Trinity led by about five points for most of the second half, and Wesleyan was never able to get over the hump.

The game is in Middletown, but the Bantams are hoping a road win helps them secure home court for the NESCAC tournament. Trinity’s home court advantage is not significant, but the Bantams would still love the #1 seed to have the opportunity to host the NESCAC semi-finals and final if they get past their first round opponent. If they beat the Cardinals, they will be able to taste it.

Amateur Hour is Over, Conference Play is Here: The Weekend Preview 1/9

The Bates bench is excited about the conference season beginning. So should you. (Courtesy of Bates College)
The Bates bench is excited about the conference season beginning. So should you. (Courtesy of Bates College)

We only get five weekends of NESCAC conference basketball. Heck, I am only in session to watch my beloved Bowdoin Polar Bears for three home conference games, and the first one of those is not until February 8! Unlike most other conference schedules that see teams play each other twice, the NESCAC only gives you one shot at every team meaning every game takes on extra importance.

When all five games tip off at 7 PM tonight, it will usher in one of the most open conference seasons in years. Though we lack any official Las Vegas odds in the NESCAC, nobody should feel very confident about their chances right now. Which also means that almost everybody should feel at least a little bit confident about their chances right now.

This is going to be fun. Here is your weekend preview.

Three Players to Watch

1. Point Guard Mike Greenman ’17 (Williams): The sophomore has a knack for finding his way into the biggest moments on the court. Against Trinity and Amherst Greenman will have to initiate the offense and pressure the defense by getting into the lane. Often Greenman is not the person who ends up finishing plays but rather intends to attract defenders for others. When he drives to pass, he opens up space and driving lanes for star seniors Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 and Dan Wohl ’15. The downside to Greenman’s ability to get into the lane is that he turns the ball over at the third highest rate in the NESCAC at 3.7 turnovers per game. Defensively, Greenman will likely not guard Jaquann Starks ’16 on Friday but rather match up with the other guard on the floor.

2. Center Zuri Pavlin ’17 (Conn College): The Camels are one of the youngest teams in the NESCAC so it will be interesting to see how they fare in the first weekend of NESCAC play. Pavlin is a double-double machine and the best player for Conn. This weekend he gets to play two of the premier centers in the NESCAC in John Swords ’15 from Bowdoin and Chris Hudnut ’16 from Colby. Last season against those two teams Pavlin scored only 12 points combined. He will need to score way more points than that if there is any way for Conn to spring an early upset on two teams that have had some significant struggles so far.

3. Shooting Guard Lucas Hausman ’16 (Bowdoin): The Polar Bear offense often goes through long droughts within games. Hausman is the best player on Bowdoin at creating his own shot. While the 6’3″ guard is barely 170 pounds dripping wet, he can get to the basket because of his athleticism. He scored 28 points Tuesday at Bridgewater State and is now the leading scorer for Bowdoin with 15.6 points per game. That game Tuesday saw Bowdoin blow an 18 point first half lead and then a nine point lead in the final 4:59 of regulation. The Polar Bears are very thin after their starting five so they need their stars to come through every game. Hausman has taken up the mantle of the leading scorer, and he will need to score often and efficiently.

Top Three Games to Watch

There is not enough time or space for us to preview every single game that is going on this weekend. So while the depth of the league means almost every game is worth tuning into, every week we will go in-depth on the three most important games.

3. Friday 7:00 PM: Colby (7-5) at Wesleyan (10-2)

The NESCAC opener for these teams will tell us a lot about two teams that are part of that upwardly mobile NESCAC middle-class. Do not let Colby’s 7-5 record make you think that this is not a good team. All but one of their losses is a “good” one, if there is such a thing, and they have quality victories over Bowdoin and Husson. Wesleyan is coming in on a six game winning streak, and one of their two losses was in overtime to Williams.

The Colby offense revolves around Chris Hudnut ’16, the talented big man who has taken his game to yet another level this season. For Wesleyan the emergence of Joseph Kuo ’17 means that the Cardinals now have a player capable of matching up with Hudnut while Rashid Epps ’16 can shift to the power forward position. Epps could be primed for a big game one year after having Hudnut shut him down. He will have Sam Willson ’16 on him in what could be a mismatch for Colby because of Epps physicality.

Colby has had to battle injuries that has robbed them of much of their depth. Wesleyan has seen their roles sort themselves out into a clear starting five.

Matchup to Watch: Wesleyan Points in the Paint vs. Colby Defense

Let’s be clear that Colby’s weakness is their defense. They are allowing the second most points per game in the NESCAC. The weird thing about their defensive struggles is that they have occurred despite teams shooting only 26.7 percent from three. Overall teams are shooting 41.5 percent against Colby, the third highest percentage in the league. Opponents have been getting in the paint and scoring with way too much ease. Wesleyan has changed this season from a three point heavy team to a more inside-out oriented team around Epps and Kuo. They are going to look to get the ball into the paint early and often until Colby proves that they can keep Wesleyan off the boards.

2. Friday 7:00 PM Middlebury (9-0) at Bates (9-2)

These were the last two remaining undefeated teams in the NESCAC before Bates lost two games right before New Year’s. Bates is possibly the best team that Middlebury will have faced all year, and the Bobcats are lucky to get Middlebury at home. Last year Bates beat Middlebury at Pepin Gym in what turned out to be their only NESCAC victory. The loss came back to haunt Middlebury as it was a major strike against them for an NCAA at-large bid.

The point guard match-up between Graham Safford ’15 and Jake Brown ’17 will be fun to watch. Brown is difficult to stay in front of, and Safford will have to be careful not to get into foul trouble. Bates coach Jon Furbush is likely to ask Mike Boornazian ’16 to matchup with Dylan Sinnickson ’15. Boornazian has the size and quickness to give Sinnickson problems. Bates also likes to occasionally go to a 1-3-1 zone, but given the shooters that Middlebury has, it might be difficult to defend them with a zone. On the other end the trio of Safford, Boornazian, and Billy Selmon ’15 on the perimeter is dangerous. All three are capable of getting to the basket or spotting up for three.

Do not sleep on the impact that both benches could have. Adam Philpott ’15 and Mike Newton ’16 can be a steadying force off the bench for Bates. Philpott in particular was the difference Tuesday against Brandeis with 12 big points. No one player on the Middlebury bench has jumped out for most the season, but Nick Tarantino ’18 might be emerging at just the right time. He has averaged 9.5 PPG in the two games since break and could be a crucial big body for Middlebury (see below).

One crucial thing that benefits Middlebury is that Bates begins classes on Monday so not many students will be back for the game. A lot of Lewiston community members will likely be there, but the Panthers are not walking into the fearsome Alumni Gym we usually see.

Matchup to Watch: Delpeche Brothers vs. Middlebury Frontcourt

The clear weakness of Middlebury is their front-court. Connor Huff ’16 has done a wonderful job filling in at center. However, expecting the 6’4″ Huff to stop one of the Delpeches is foolish.  Six-foot eight Matt Daley ’16 is back after missing Middlebury’s first seven games. Yet he only played five minutes Tuesday night so it would be surprising if he played extensive minutes tonight. Sinnickson will be crucial in keeping Bates off of the offensive boards, a place where the Bobcats have feasted on opponents. Malcolm Delpeche ’17 enjoyed his best game of the year against Middlebury last season with 17 points and nine rebounds. Now both he and his brother Marcus are in the starting lineup. Unless they get into foul trouble, Middlebury might have a hard time keeping the Delpeches from making plays like this dunk Marcus had against Emory.

1. Amherst (8-2) at Williams (9-3)

We already went in-depth on this game in our look at preview so go take a look there for our analysis.