The Best Offense is a Good Defense: 2017-2018 Wesleyan Men’s Basketball Season Preview

Wesleyan Cardinals

2016-2017 Record: 19-7 (8-5 conference)

The Cardinals started their season with 11 straight wins before being slowed down by the grind of the NESCAC conference schedule. They lost to Trinity in the NESCAC quarters, before ending their season against Union (NY) in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Projected 2017-2018 Record: 18-6 (7-6 conference)

Amherst gets some redemption this season against a Wesleyan squad that beat them twice last winter.

Key Losses

Harry Rafferty (13 PPG, 2.2 AST/G, 38% 3FG) –

A veteran guard who started every game his senior season, and 77 of his 103 collegiate appearances, the Cardinals will most definitely miss his floor presence and lifetime 40% shooting.

Joseph Kuo (11.8 PPG, 7.2 REB/G, 49% FG) –

Wesleyan will be missing their paint beast in Kuo. Though his numbers aren’t astounding – Kuo averaged just over 7 rebounds and 12 points a game – he started essentially every game for the past 3 seasons, and any team can’t but miss such a reliable presence, especially in a paint protector like Kuo. The Cardinals do, however, have another veteran down low, in senior Nathan Krill, and, as the 6-7 vet JR Bascom has stepped in to fill Kuo’s shoes, Wesleyan looks to continue their streak of solid defense from last year.

Projected Starting Lineup:

Thanks to an endless streak of midterms and papers in the green mountains, this writer has the benefit of Wesleyan’s having already played in, and won, the Herb Kenny Tip-Off tournament. So my starting lineup predictions have some, albeit limited, historical basis.

F JR Bascom ’18 (4.7 PPG, 3.4 REB/G, 53.8% FG)

JR Bascom
JR Bascom ’18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Though he played just 9 minutes against Mitchell, Bascom has the benefit of a rather guard-heavy Wesleyan roster. He’s had the career trajectory of a player who’s had to earn his minutes, and this season the waiting looks to pay off. Bascom played in 26 games last season, but started only one. This year he’s charged taking over for the graduated Joseph Kuo, so look for Bascom in the introductions this year. He’s 7-8 shooting so far this young season, and looks to be playing with the poise and confidence afforded to a man of his experience.

F Nathan Krill ’18 (9.6 PPG, 6.2 REB/G, 0.9 BLK/G)

Nathan Krill
Four years, four different hairstyles for Nathan Krill ’18. (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

The 6-7 senior and chief contender for the annual “Feels Like He’s Been Here for 35 Years” award is off to hot start to the year. After an 11-point, 8 rebound performance to start the year against Anna Maria, Krill dropped 22 on 9-14 shooting against Mitchell on Saturday. He capped his 20-minute double-double with 16 boards, earning Krill the Herb Kenny Tip-Off Tournament MVP. Krill was in and out of the starting lineup last season, but any forward who takes 9 threes in 27 minutes is feeling mighty confident. If Krill keeps playing with the confidence he absolutely deserves to be playing with, look for him to step into the role of a real impact player this season.

G Austin Hutcherson ’21 (N/A)

Austin Hutcherson
Austin Hutcherson ’21 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

The freshman played his way into a starting spot after the season opener against Anna Maria, where he scored 9 points on 11 attempts from the field. Look for the Jersey Boy Hutcherson and senior Jordan Sears to both be in and out of the starting 5, but I put my money on Hutcherson, who’s a lanky 6-6, winning the position battle. In Wesleyan’s 107-64 romping of Mitchell, Hutcherson had 13 points on 6-13 shooting. The biggest struggle for any freshman is adjusting to the speed and increased physicality of the college game. It often means a hit to the confidence early on, but clearly Hutcherson’s deflected the confidence blow, because he’s shooting the ball plenty, and doing it successfully.

G/F Jordan Bonner ’19 (12.8 PPG, 5.2 REB/G)

Jordan Bonner
Jordan Bonner ’19

Bonner is Wesleyan’s go-to man. The 6-4 junior guard emerged as a big-time scorer last season for the Cardinals, hitting a buzzer beater against Amherst to send the game, one he sealed with a pair of clutch free-throws, to overtime. He averaged 13 points a game last season, and though his 5.2 rebounds a game is middling, Bonner has bounce, and is capable of producing double-double performances. Though he’s a more than capable scorer, and will be looked to as such, look for Bonner to crank it up a notch this season on the glass in big time conference games this year.

G Kevin O’Brien ’19 (8.3 PPG, 6.5 REB/G, 4.3 AST/G, 1.5 STL/G)

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O’Brien ’19 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

O’Brien will run Wesleyan’s offense from the point. The 6-5 junior is a supersized point guard, and uses it to bully smaller players. He averaged  nearly 7 rebounds per game last season in his 26 starts, and also uses his height to see over the defense to make tough passes. But his most important job is kickstarting Wesleyan’s notorious D. O’Brien averaged 1.5 steals a game last year, and is an absolute menace in the pick and roll, due again to his size. O’Brien can legitimately switch onto any position and not give up too much size. You can tell from the stats above that O’Brien is one of the best all around players in the league. But in the absence of shooter Harry Rafferty, O’Brien will be looked at more and more to put up points. He’s certainly capable of it. He scored consistently last season, and was 8-8 with 16 points against Mitchell last weekend. Look for O’Brien as Wesleyan’s lock-down man and floor general this year.

Breakout Player: Austin Hutcherson ’21

The beauty of Wesleyan’s team this year is that almost every stud, or even starter, was, by the end of the year last year, someone coach Joe Reilly looked to consistently and with confidence. Austin Hutcherson is the lone complete newcomer to the floor, and it’s a position that hasn’t appeared to intimidate him in the slightest. Through Wes’s 2-0 start to the season, Hutcherson has shot 4-11 and 6-13 respectively. It’s a volume that tells me he’s playing with the earnest fire of a newcomer to NESCAC hoops, but also with the confidence of someone who’s played at Wesleyan’s level before. I think 2 or 3 more games are all that’s needed to cement Hutcherson’s swagger, and after that, watch out.

Everything Else:

As always, the key to this Wesleyan lineup is their defense. Wesleyan may be the closest team in the league to the new NBA ideal of a position-less, switch heavy lineup. Forwards Nathan Krill and JR Bascom are highly skilled and have very quick feet, and their guards Bonner, Hutcherson and O’ Brien run 6’4″, 6’5″ and 6’6″ respectively. Welseyan’s lineup is supersized and quick, making pick and rolls against them tremendously difficult. Their guards are tall enough to guard bigs in the post, and the bigs are quick enough to not get killed by guards on the perimeter. Wesleyan has the personnel to be an elite defensive unit.

Wesleyan’s defense has always been their calling card, this season maybe most of all.

Offense is far more of a question mark. They lost their best shooter in Rafferty, and their go to scorer on the block in Kuo. They are left with a lot of defensive players who haven’t proven themselves as scorers. Bonner is the only returning player who was a reliable scoring threat last season. This is one of the reasons that O’Brien is so important. He showed great vision last season, and should turn that vision to more scoring this year. The early returns on O’Brien and Hutcherson are encouraging, but the season doesn’t start until league play anyways.

Final Hot Take:

Hot or not so hot I’m not sure, but Wesleyan’s always deep field of talent this year is both filled with earnestness and experience. They’ve got the talent to score a TON, and if they defend consistently, I see Wesleyan playing deep into both the NESCAC and national tournaments this winter.


The Battle for Connecticut: NESCAC Quarterfinal, #5 Trinity at #4 Wesleyan

#5 Trinity (15-9, 6-4) at #4 Wesleyan (19-5, 6-4), Saturday, 3:00 PM, Middletown, Connecticut

(Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Taking a glance at season-long statistics, when Trinity heads to Middletown this Saturday to play Wesleyan, they’ll be facing an equal opponent. Wesleyan has allowed just over 66 points per game this winter. Trinity’s competition has put up an average of 65.5. While Wesleyan is averaging just over 76 points a game, which is four more than the Bantams, both teams are shooting 40% from the field, and from deep, both Wesleyan and Trinity are shooting 35% and 35.2% respectively. Where the disparity between the two lies – so that I can have a take on the game, rather than just throwing evidence in front of you that says the game will be a tie – is in the final stretch of the regular season.

After a last-second OT win at Amherst, Wesleyan coasted through Bowdoin and Colby – as expected, I should add – with 93-73 and 83-67 wins at home. In both those games, 4 of Wesleyan’s five starters scored in double figures. Wesleyan, who it seems can depend on consistent output from senior and member of the 1,000 point club Harry Rafferty, as well as from fellow senior Joseph Kuo, who is on the brink of membership, as he currently sits with 978 career points. This streak of balanced perimeter scoring bodes well for the Cardinals, especially against a Trinity defense that allowed Bates to shoot 46.7% from the field, and Middlebury to shoot 57% from the field and 52% from deep. The Cardinals’ chances look good if they can get balanced offensive production, especially because they can rely on strong perimeter defense.

The Cardinals are going to need a big game out of Joseph Kuo ’17 (Courtesy of Lianne Yun/Wesleyan Athletics).

The Cardinals held a perimeter-scoring heavy Amherst to shooting just 32% from deep, while Bowdoin shot 34%, and Colby, despite an absolute lights out first half, were cooled down by the Cardinals to shoot just over 35% from beyond the arc. Yet the thing that makes this matchup so interesting is that Trinity knows that they can’t beat Wesleyan by jacking up threes, and they wouldn’t have tried to anyways. Wesleyan’s biggest weakness is rebounding, and they’ll need solid performances on the glass from more than just Kuo and Jordan Sears, who pulled down 11 against Bowdoin, if they hope to match Trinity’s far-from-secret weapon. If the Bantams are to win this game, it will be on the shoulders of senior Ed Ogundeko.

That sounds like an aggressive take, but it’s certainly not a hot one. The senior forward has led Trinity in either points, rebounds, or both in every one of the Bantam’s wins since mid-December. He pulled down 23 boards against Williams. He had 20 points and 20 boards in a win over Bowdoin. But in Trinity’s 97-80 loss in Middlebury this past weekend, Ogundeko was only good for 14 points and 9 boards. This is still a solid line, but it shows that Trinity’s success is contingent on his individual domination, especially on the glass. When Wesleyan and Trinity squared off earlier in the season, the senior POY candidate had only 8 rebounds, and the Cardinals won the game 65-61.

Look for sophomore Jeremy Arthur to step up in this battle for Connecticut (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Saturday’s game will be won or lost on the glass. Wesleyan will look to defend well, and they certainly hope for the balanced production they’ve been getting from their starters over the course of their current three game win streak. The question is Ogundeko. If he isn’t attacking under the rim, or the likes of Jeremy Arthur and Chris Turnbull aren’t pulling the ball down, then perhaps Wesleyan won’t need anyone to step up and grab 10 boards. But if Trinity can command the paint while the ball stays down low, Wesleyan will need some serious hustle for their perimeter D to have the impact it does against less-aggressive opponents. Wesleyan’s perimeter play against Trinity’s strength in the paint should combine for one heck of a first round matchup.

Writer’s Pick: Wesleyan   

Fight Night: Wesleyan v. Connecticut College Preview

Wesleyan (15-4, 3-3) @ Connecticut College (11-7, 2-4), New London, CT 3:00 PM, Saturday, January 28th


Image result for the stepford wives
The original ‘Battle for Connecticut.’

The “Battle for Connecticut” is not, as I originally thought, a sci-fi movie about 30-foot tall white families duking it out in Hartford. It is instead this game, which features two teams sitting in precarious positions in the league rankings. Connecticut College has a couple impressive wins under their belt, an overtime thriller over Amherst, and a demolition of Bates in Alumni Gym. But they also have four losses and have shown an inability to score against elite defenses (see their 70-52 loss to Trinity.) And Wesleyan is certainly an elite defense. It has been that side of the ball that allowed them to recover from their 0-2 start. The Cardinals are now 3-3, and gave Tufts their toughest test of league play so far in a 77-73 loss. They only allow opponents to shoot 34.7% from the field, which is among the national leaders and leads the conference by a considerable margin. The Camels will need to prove that they can score against the best in order to have a chance in this game.

Wesleyan X-Factor: Jordan Sears ‘18

Jordan Sears
Jordan Sears ’18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
It’s not a coincidence that Wesleyan has won both the league games that Sears has started. At 6’5″ and 200 pounds, Sears is defensive and rebounding menace, averaging 1.2 blocks and 4.6 rebounds per game despite only playing 17 minutes. He has started against Trinity and Bates, who boast the two best big men in the league in Ed Ogundeko and Malcolm Delpeche respectively. Sears was the key to not letting those stars own the paint against Wesleyan. I would expect him to play a similar role against Zuri Pavlin ‘17 and Daniel Janel ‘17, Connecticut College’s two excellent forwards.
Sears’ starting spot has another benefit for the Cardinals in that it pushes Nathan Krill ‘18 to the bench. That may read like a jab at Krill, but let me explain. Krill may well be Wesleyan’s best offensive player, but his volatile temper makes it difficult for him to remain on the floor at times. Bringing him off the bench makes it easier for Coach Reilly to control his star forward. It also gives the often-dead Wesleyan second unit some needed scoring punch, and allows Krill to beat up on slower second unit players. Sears starting has been a key to Wesleyan’s turnaround.


Connecticut College X-Factor: Isaiah Robinson ‘18

Isaiah Robinson
Not to start another NESCAC man-crush, but Isaiah Robinson ’18 has a TERRIFIC smile. (Courtesy of Connecticut College Athletics)
Wesleyan is a team that will try to beat you up, particularly in the paint. Connecticut College is well equipped to hit back, but they will also need to hit from the perimeter, as Wesleyan has shown themselves to not be able to keep up in a faster paced offensive game. Robinson combines those two responsibilities. Robinson is 6’5” and built like a linebacker, giving him more than enough strength to push back when Krill and Joseph Kuo ‘17 try to body him in the paint. But he also has quick feet and can stretch the floor, shooting 38.6% from three. Robinson will need to be an offensive threat in this game to pull the Wesleyan big men away from the basket and open things up for Pavlin and Janel to do their work inside. And he may also draw the critical task of getting in Nathan Krill’s head and forcing him into foul trouble.


Who Needs it More:

Wesleyan has done a terrific job climbing back into the upper half of the league, and of course needs to continue playing well in order to stay there. This is a crucial game for them, as they travel to Williams and Amherst next weekend. They need the freedom to lose one of those games and still be in contention for a high seed. But Connecticut College still needs this one more. In the ever-shifting NESCAC landscape, the difference between 3-4 and 2-5 is difficult to overstate. The Camels have done great work getting over the…barrier (not going to make the “hump” pun again) and being relevant this season, but this game is the key to them remaining there.

Final Thoughts:

Starting Jordan Sears has freed up Nathan Krill and strengthened Wesleyan’s defense in the paint against elite big men, but it also puts more pressure on the perimeter players in the starting lineup. Sears is aggressively non-threatening on offense, allowing opposing teams to sag off on him and double the primary ball handlers Salim Green ‘19 and Harry Rafferty ‘17. This has forced Kevin O’Brien ‘19 to step up as a scoring threat. He has done this admirably at times, scoring 20 and 19 back-to-back against Hamilton and Amherst. When teams leave Sears alone and key in on Green and Rafferty, O’Brien has to be ready to step up and be a scoring threat, or else Wesleyan simply doesn’t have enough offense.

Connecticut College will need shooters like Colin Pascoe ’17 to hit threes in order to pull off the upset.

Three point shooting will be the most important stat for Connecticut College in this game. They can’t beat Wesleyan in bar-room brawl  in the paint, the Cardinals’ win over Trinity proved that no one can. They need to stretch the floor and speed the Wesleyan up. They have showed the tendency to make mistakes on offense and defense when they are forced the play faster than their preferred pace. Lee Messier ‘18 will need to shoot a little better than his 33% yearly rate, and Robinson and David Labossiere ‘19 will also need to knock a couple down.

The Prediction:

Wesleyan comes into this game with all the momentum, and would probably be favored in Vegas if bookies out there cared about NESCAC sports at all. But Connecticut College matches up very well with the Cardinals. They have outside threats to spread out the Wesleyan defense, and forwards who can bang with the Special K’s (Kuo and Krill.) This should be hard fought, low scoring battle, featuring a lot of rebounds and fouls. In other words, a terrific viewing experience, and Wesleyan’s specialty. I think the Cardinals pull it out.

Writer’s Pick: Wesleyan

The Year of The Jumbo?: Power Rankings 1/19

KJ Garrett ’18 made a splash off the bench this weekend for the Jumbos with 30 points on 13-18 shooting (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

This weekend brought tight games, upsets, and standings shake-ups. Some players rose to the occasion in times of need, while others shrunk from the spotlight. One thing that is certain about the NESCAC this year is that it is competitive through and through. Here are this week’s power rankings:

1.) #4 Tufts (13-2, 4-0)

Tufts’ victories against Middlebury and Hamilton cemented them at the top spot this week as the only undefeated team in NESCAC competition. Tufts barely beat Middlebury, up by just one point with 21 seconds remaining, but were able to make their free throws and keep the lead in what could be a playoff preview. Other than their two back to back losses to #1 Babson (then #2) and UMass-Boston on December 3rd and 6th, the Jumbos have been perfect all season and are now the highest ranked team (#4) in the conference after Amherst’s two losses this past weekend. The Middlebury game was a great display of Tufts’ balance as all five starters scored double-digit points, with Everett Dayton leading the way with 16. Tom Palleschi continued his hot play and had a well rounded game with three blocks, three assists, six boards, and 10 points. Eric Savage went off against Hamilton on Saturday with a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and a season high in boards that shows how versatile this Tufts team is and why they shouldn’t have many issues this weekend against a resurgent Wesleyan team and a decent Conn College team. Tufts should continue to climb in the national rankings.

2.) #15 Middlebury (13-2, 3-1)

The Panthers would be #1 if Eric McCord made a final minute layup and they held on afterwards in Medford last Friday, yet the Jumbos held off McCord and Middlebury to give Midd their first loss in conference play. With that being said, Middlebury has found something in McCord that can help fill the hole that Zach Baines left when he departed from Vermont. McCord broke out against the Jumbos as he matched his season high in rebounds with eight and found a new season high of points with 22, 10 more than his previous high. He then added 11 points and six rebounds against Bates on Saturday, really cementing himself as the sixth man and as a force in the paint as the 6’7’’/255 pound beast is now a force to be reckoned with. Coach Brown also has to be happy that Nick Tarantino ’18 is holding his own in the starting lineup after struggling his first few starts beginning on December 29th. He has averaged nearly 10 rebounds and 10 points a game these last three contests and is shooting at over 50% in those games too, much better than the 1-6 he went against the Camels. Williams should be another team that the Panthers beat so long as these guys continue to produce – Matt St. Amour and Jake Brown can do the rest.

3.) #16 Amherst (10-4, 1-2)

Yes, Amherst got swept this past weekend and are still ranked 3rd this week. Unfair? Maybe but they are still one of just four nationally ranked NESCAC teams and did knock off #1 Babson earlier in the season. Now, they lost to Wesleyan last Friday who was ranked earlier in the year and desperately needed the win in their home gym to remain relevant in the NESCAC. However, a 14 point loss to an unranked team isn’t really indicative of a championship caliber season. On top of that, Jayde Dawson had the best game and he did not play well. He did score 17, but 6-19 from the field and 1-7 from 3-point range is 2016 Kobe-esque in his send off game. Amherst followed up Friday with an OT loss to Conn College, who hasn’t been overly impressive thus far, giving the Camels their first ‘CAC win of the year. This is not a good sign for the Purple and White. Johnny McCarthy played well and got back to his consistent form with 19 points after just five against the Cardinals. So while Amherst might no longer host the NESCAC tournament, they are in no danger of falling out of the playoff race. They need to get it together this weekend against Bowdoin and Colby as a loss to either will certainly boot them out of the top-25 and push them farther down the power rankings.

4.) Bates (12-4, 3-1)

A Delpeche sandwich means a job well-done (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen).

I’ll admit that I either underestimated the Bobcats or overestimated the Continentals. I fully expected Bates to fall to Hamilton last weekend, but here they are at #4 in the rankings already with three wins in conference, more than all of last year. Their performance so far has all but cemented them as a NESCAC playoff team. Bates defended four of six of Hamilton’s big scoring threats well (Gilmour, Doyle, Pucci, and Groll) which forced PG Jack Dwyer to shoot more than he generally likes to. While this allowed Dwyer to score a season high of 19, the other key players found themselves neutralized, allowing the Delpeche twins to have a day. Marcus scored 17 and hauled in 14 boards and Malcolm scored 12 and had 17 rebounds of his own. Jeff Spellman was a key player off of the bench too as he added 16 points in 25 minutes. Bates also played Middlebury in a tight game, falling behind early but clawing their way to within a 10 point margin by the end. Marcus Delpeche found less shooting success in this contest and Middlebury controlled the rebounds (45-31), giving the Panthers an upper hand, especially in the first half. Bates should beat Conn College on Friday if they keep playing with this intensity and their matchup against Wesleyan will tell who should be higher in the rankings.

5.) Wesleyan (13-3, 2-2)

Two shocking losses to open up conference play and drop the Cardinals out of the top-25 were not part of the plan. These 18 and 16 point losses to Middlebury and Hamilton respectively had to hurt, but Wesleyan really bounced back against previously #5 Amherst and a solid Trinity team at home, preventing a bottom half ranking this week. The victory over Amherst is especially surprising. Amherst had been dominant all year up until that point and didn’t show any signs of slowing down. But Wesleyan’s defense shined on Friday, holding the Purple and White to just 30% shooting from the field and 24.1% from beyond the arc. Kevin O’Brien led the way with 19 points, nine boards, four assists, four steals, and two blocks. Jordan Sears also had a big 10 rebounds off of the bench and Amherst just couldn’t put anything together. The most remarkable stat from the weekend is that both O’Brien and Joseph Kuo had more rebounds at 11 and 10 respectively than Ed Ogundeko did, who had just eight on Saturday. Kuo also added 14 points and the Cardinals narrowly pulled out the win, reestablishing themselves as a contender. They have a tough weekend against Tufts and Bates and if they can go 1-1 that should be considered a success.

6.) Hamilton (11-4, 2-2)

I’m a big fan of the Continentals’ resurgence similar to Bates from last place to a position of relevance in the conference. Their youth will still shine through from time to time as consistency and closing out games is a big focus for the team, but at 2-2 they still have a lot of potential upward mobility ahead of them if they seize the opportunity. Dwyer showed last weekend against Bates that when other teammates get shut down he can still shoot, although it wasn’t quite enough on the road on Friday. They did keep the game close and nearly managed to come back, but Kena Gilmour, Joe Pucci, and Andrew Groll weren’t themselves as they shot a combined 6-24. Their loss against Tufts was expected, but Groll and Gilmour had bounce back games while Pucci and Jack Dwyer couldn’t get it going. Tufts’ 46.3% from the field is what killed the Continentals. They will need a strong game, especially defensively, if they want to beat a desperate Williams team.

7.) Trinity (10-6, 2-1)

Jeremy Arthur ’19 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

While the gap between Trinity and Hamilton and Wesleyan isn’t huge, their two conference wins against Williams and Conn College are hardly justification for a higher spot. Their loss to Wesleyan cemented them at #7 this week, and barring upset wins elsewhere in the conference, wins against Colby and Bowdoin this weekend shouldn’t move them too much higher. Ogundeko is averaging a double-double with 17.4 points and 10.6 boards, top-5 in the league in both. However, Ogundeko showed against Wesleyan that he is human as he was out rebounded by two Cardinals. The Bantams are reliant on him to dominate in the paint as potential dud performances like Chris Turnbull’s against Conn College (0-7, zero points) could put easy wins in jeopardy. Despite the winning conference record, Trinity has issues as Langdon Neal hasn’t been too impressive shooting the ball, averaging just over four points in NESCAC games. Also, Trinity’s bench hasn’t produced much at all and compared to Middlebury and Hamilton’s bench players as an example, the Bantams don’t compare. Look for them to win this weekend but the Bowdoin game could be closer than people expect for the third place NESCAC team.

8.) Conn College (10-5, 1-3)

Erasing a 17 point halftime deficit against Amherst bodes well for the Camels heading into the rest of the season. They just saved their NESCAC first half with that win as an 0-4 start could’ve sent them towards the offseason as playoffs would be a much tougher achievement at that point. 1-3 still isn’t good, but knocking off any ranked team is a feat worth mentioning. They played Middlebury closely on January 7th, lost big to both Trinity and Hamilton, and won by seven in OT to the Purple and White. Last weekend was a tale of two different Conn College teams. While the Camels usually rule the rebounds due to two big men, Daniel Janel and Zuri Pavlin (Pavlin recently broke the Conn College all time rebounding record), the pair notched only nine combined boards against Trinity compared to Ogundeko’s 12. On top of that David Labossiere shot just 2-8, Colin Pascoe didn’t take a shot, Isaiah Robinson only scored two points compared to his normal 9.5…you get my point. When that many players have down games, this team likely isn’t going to win. However, like they showed against Amherst, when both of their big men have incredible games, they win. It’s a tale of consistency and for a team that lost so many close games in the final minutes a year ago, they should be sick of these ups and downs. Not so bold prediction: anytime Janel and Pavlin score 20 each and have 18 rebounds combined, they’ll win. This weekend will be a good test to see is they can keep pace with the big dogs as Bates and Tufts are both challenges steep challenges, especially in those rowdy environments.

9.) Bowdoin (9-6, 1-2)

The Polar Bears have the NESCAC scoring leader in Jack Simonds (21.9 ppg) and they can shoot as Hugh O’Neil ranks fourth in FG% (57.9%) and David Reynolds ranks fourth in 3PT% (43.3%). O’Neil is also in the top five in rebounds with 9.6 per game, but other than that, Bowdoin doesn’t have a whole lot going there way. The game against Tufts summarized this well as those three accounted for 25/42 rebounds, 40/54 points, and the rest of the team shot 6-30 from the field. Against Bates, again, these three were the only ones to score in double digits, had the majority of the rebounds, and only lost by five. While it was a close game, Bowdoin needs another element to complement these guys as the load can’t all fall on their shoulders. Neil Fuller could be that guy – he put up 10 against Williams along with five rebounds, helping out Bowdoin’s big three despite Reynolds’ down game. Of course, they will have a good chance if Simonds drops 32 every contest. This team needs more balance, and if they continue playing more like they did against the Ephs, they should have a better shot at making the playoffs.

10.) Williams (12-4, 1-3)

Williams’ only conference win came against Colby who is right below them in the rankings, so it doesn’t say too much. It’s hard to believe but the Ephs were ranked this season in what seems like ages ago. Their recent drop off is a product of better competition in the conference and the lack of a big rebounding presence. Kyle Scadlock and Daniel Aronowitz are their best chance at matching the league’s best, but a team high of 6.0 reb/g isn’t exactly noteworthy in a positive light. To emphasize this further, Ogundeko hauled in 23 rebounds against Williams, and while Aronowitz had a great game and had a double-double, they simply couldn’t stop the Bantam’s big man. In a two point loss like that, every possession is key, and if they could’ve gotten some offensive boards they would’ve been able to get over the hump. It was the same story against Bowdoin as the Polar Bears hauled in 40 rebounds compared to just 27 for the Ephs, while no individual had more than five and they had just six offensive rebounds. Williams can score well – Aronowitz, Scadlock, and Cole Teal all score over 10 per game – but unless they can stop other teams from controlling the ball, they won’t make the playoffs.

11.) Colby (7-7,0-3)

0-3 is obviously a tough start for any team, but especially for the underdog. Colby has a lot of ground to make up over these next few weeks as at least three or four wins will be needed to sneak into the NESCAC playoff picture. They have kept all three losses within 15 points, but Patrick Stewart is just about the only bright spot here. The senior is averaging 16.2 ppg while the next closest player is at just 7.9 ppg. His 6.2 rebounds also lead the team, and nobody has more than Joseph Connelly’s 2.4 a/g, which isn’t exactly impressive. First year Ethan Schlager has played well in conference games, with 11.3 ppg over these three contest in just 21.0 min/g, and the Mules will need more help from him and other rookies Ronan Schwarz and Sam Jefferson if they are going to have a chance at climbing out of the cellar. Away games at Trinity and Amherst are going to be tough contests, and I’d be shocked if they pulled off an upset.

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.

To Kill A King: Wesleyan Season Wrap-up

The Wesleyan Cardinals are NESCAC champions. (Courtesy of
The Wesleyan Cardinals are NESCAC champions. (Courtesy of

Season: 19-9 (5-5), Won NESCAC Championship, Lost in First Round of NCAA Tournament to Skidmore

Wesleyan brought back a young and talented squad in 2014-15, but expectations, at least outside of Middletown, were low for a program that has been under .500 for the past two seasons. The Cardinals, though, were not surprised by their level of success.

“At the beginning of the season we talked about building a championship culture – something rarely associated with Wesleyan. The success of the 2012 20-win team served as confidence to get the program to the next level.” – Joe Edmonds ’16

Coach Joe Reilly relied heavily on a six-man rotation of underclassmen that featured three players capable of handling the point in Jack Mackey ’16, BJ Davis ’16 and Harry Rafferty ’16, a sharpshooting forward in Edmonds, a hyper-efficent power forward in Rashid Epps ’16 and a big rebounding machine in Joseph Kuo ’17. The impact and leadership of Chris “Air Canada” Tugman ’15, Tim “Dog Show” Gallivan ’15 and Bryan Galvin ’15 cannot be understated. Tugman and Gallivan each had crucial rebounds in the Cardinals’ first round NESCAC upset. PJ Reed ’17 and Jordan Sears ’18 provided high energy minutes and brought defensive length to the court in limited time.

Overall, Wesleyan did nothing more than make good on the tacit promises that its players made to themselves at the beginning of the season. Edmonds and his teammates talked about creating a championship culture. That was solidified when the Cards hosted the trophy.

High Point: Five-game win streak on the way to winning a NESCAC title

The Cards were 3-5 in the NESCAC on the morning of Friday, Feb. 13 and a long shot to reach the NESCAC Tournament. Wesleyan manhandled Hamilton that night and swept the floor with Williams the next day to finish at 5-5 and solidify its spot as the sixth seed. Then the Cards went on the road to the toughest gym in the NESCAC and squeaked out a W against Bates. The next weekend Wesleyan was in a hostile environment once again, but topped the Bantams in Hartford in the NESCAC Semifinals. The Cardinals torrid run culminated with an overtime win – just the second overtime game in NESCAC title game history – over three-time defending champion Amherst. The NESCAC title was the program’s first, and the first for any sixth-seed in the tournament, and the NCAA berth was also a first for Wesleyan.

MVP: Center Joseph Kuo ’17

Joseph Kuo '17 not only led the team in scoring and rebounding, but provided some highlight reel slam dunks and was a force inside defensively. (Courtesy of the Wesleyan Argus/Jonas Powell)
Joseph Kuo ’17 not only led the team in scoring and rebounding, but provided some highlight reel slam dunks and was a force inside defensively. (Courtesy of the Wesleyan Argus/Jonas Powell)

It’s damn near impossible to pick one player from the Wesleyan rotation to make Most Valuable Player, because the production was spread out so equally and the defense was a complete team effort. And, if you were to ask any of the Wesleyan players (oh yeah, we did), they would only reiterate that sentiment instead of singling out a single contributor. Nevertheless, if you’re going to pull my leg, I’ve got to hand the award to Kuo, who led the team in rebounding and scoring (though just barely). The Cardinals’ best depth came in the backcourt, with Mackey, Davis, Rafferty and Reed and Sears in reserve. Take one of them away and Wesleyan might not win the NESCAC, but the Cards would still be contenders. Take away Kuo, though, and Wesleyan probably doesn’t make the NESCAC.

Players to Watch in 2015-16: Guards PJ Reed ’17 and Jordan Sears ’18

PJ Reed '17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
PJ Reed ’17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Jordan Sears '18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Jordan Sears ’18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Wesleyan will return its offensive punch next season, but this duo of athletic guards could be ready to make a major impact on the defensive end next season. Both players check in at 6’5″ and have the chance to be forces defensively.

“PJ Reed and Jordan Sears have the potential to be really big pieces for us next year,” Edmonds said. “Coach Reilly emphasizes defense and rebounding and both provide plenty of length and athleticism.”

That Wesleyan could add two more weapons to its arsenal is a scary thought for the rest of the NESCAC.

#1 Trinity vs. #6 Wesleyan – NESCAC Semifinal Preview

The Wesleyan defense stepped up big in the Cards Quarterfinal win against Bates. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
The Wesleyan defense stepped up big in the Cards Quarterfinal win against Bates. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

This Connecticut rivalry, dubbed by some “The Battle of 91”, referring to the main highway that connects Middletown to Hartford, pits two teams that seemingly have overachieved and that have vastly different strengths against one another for the 190th time in history. Firstly, the Bantams host their first NESCAC Finals weekend since 2002, and will be looking to lean on their deep front court and hometown hero Jaquann Starks ’16 to bring just the second NESCAC Championship of the modern era (i.e. dating back to the inauguration of the NESCAC Tournament in 2000-2001) to Hartford. On the flip side, Wesleyan’s three-headed backcourt monster will look to outshoot the Bantams and move on to its first Finals in school history.

Anyone who knows anything about NESCAC basketball knows that defense is the calling card of the Trinity Bantams. This season to date, Trinity ranks first in the NESCAC in points per game allowed, first in offensive rebounds allowed, second in rebounding margin and second in field goal percentage defense. Ed Ogundeko ’17 in particular has developed into a beast on the defensive end, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game (sixth in the NESCAC) and 1.4 blocks per game (tied-fifth in the NESCAC), despite playing just 19.8 minutes per game due to the depth of big men that Trinity possesses. Tri-captain George Papadeas ’15 is one of the biggest bodies in the NESCAC and a strong defender himself, but Ogundeko has been so good this season that Papadeas has seen his minutes diminish as Ogundeko’s have grown. The other two members of the Bantams’ frontcourt, Shay Ajayi ’16 and Alex Conaway ’15, are no slouches, either. Ajayi turned in a double-double with 12 and 11 in the squad’s Quarterfinal win against Colby, and Conaway has been a consistent player all season long. The suffocating defense doesn’t stop once you get outside the paint, though. Tri-captain Hart Gliedman ’15, who dealt with a minor foot injury earlier this year but is now at 100 percent, might be the toughest perimeter defender in the NESCAC, bringing the quickness to guard point men and the size/strength combo needed to guard twos and smaller threes, as well as a wealth of experience. Gliedman spent a year at Div-I Liberty University in Virginia before transferring to Trinity, where he has made his mark as a leader on and off the court.

Captain Hart Gliedman '15 has a reputation for taking away an opponent's best scorer. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Captain Hart Gliedman ’15 has a reputation for taking away an opponent’s best scorer. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

As for the Cardinals, all year long they have lived and died by the three-pointer, taking 21.7 treys per game, a number surpassed in the NESCAC this season only by Williams and Amherst. In their eight losses Wesleyan has shot an abysmal 29.2 percent (57-195) from deep, though they’ve managed a 38.1 percent mark on the season. The point guard trio of BJ Davis ’16, Jack Mackey ’16 and Harry Rafferty ’17 run the show for Wesleyan, but forward Joe Edmonds ’17 is the team’s best three-point shooter, and the sophomore blew up for 22 points in the Cards Quarterfinal win over Bates, the second time in three games that Edmonds had eclipsed 20 points, something that he hadn’t done before this season. The biggest concern for Wesleyan is its depth. Beyond the top six in the rotation, Tim Gallivan ’15 averages 10.9 minutes per game and Chris Tugman ’15 averages 10.4 minutes per game. Beyond that, no one hits double digits in that regard, and in Wesleyan’s Quarterfinal game Joseph Kuo ’17 was the starter with the least amount of minutes played with 29. What’s the point here? That Head Coach Joe Reilly apparently doesn’t have much trust in his bench beyond Rashid Epps ’16, who has started 18 games this year but has recently come off of the bench, often in favor of Edmonds. Rafferty praised some of the role players after Wesleyan’s win over Bates. “Jordan Sears [’18] was unbelievable in the minutes he gave us, just wearing out [Bates point guard] Graham [Safford ’15]….I thought one of the other biggest difference makers was Chris Tugman. It was just such a dogfight on the boards, such a physical game, and when he came in as a big body with some huge rebounds, it was perfect energy off the bench. He completely changed the flow of the game.” Certainly, players like Sears and Tugman will have to make an impact yet again if Wesleyan is to knock off the top seed and clinch a NESCAC Championship, because it is probably too much to ask for all five starters to go beyond 30 minutes on back-to-back days.

Last time they played:

It was not long ago that these teams went head-to-head on Wesleyan’s home court in a game that the Bantams edged out 65-61 on Friday, February 6. Rick Naylor ’17 was in the midst of some of the best shooting of his life at that time, and torched the Cards for 17 points on 5-6 shooting from beyond the arch. It was an ugly shooting day for the Cardinals. Davis, in particular, struggled with a 2-10 showing from the field, but he was able to get to the line and sink 7-8 free throws on his way to 12 hard-earned points. Mackey kept Wesleyan in the game with four three pointers, but Edmons was a total non-factor. Kuo had some success inside amongst the trees, posting a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.

The game was tight throughout with nine lead changes, eight of which came in the second half. Wesleyan was within one in the game’s final minute, but two three-point attempts clanged off of iron and the Bantams headed home with the four-point win.

Harry Rafferty '17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Harry Rafferty ’17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Jack Mackey '16 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
Jack Mackey ’16 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Wesleyan X-Factors: Guards Harry Rafferty ’17 and Jack Mackey ’16

Gliedman is going to make Saturday Hellish for one of these two talented guards, leaving the other one with a potential quickness advantage over his defender. Trinity often has three big men on the floor, but something has to give because Wesleyan usually has three point guard-like players on the court at once. There’s no way Ajayi, despite his athleticism, can stop Mackey or Rafferty on the perimeter. This could mean more minutes for Naylor, Andrew Hurd ’16 and Chris Turnbull ’17. Will they be up to the challenge of stopping passes like this from Mackey (we had to get this in here somewhere)?

Andrew Hurd '16
Andrew Hurd ’16

Trinity X-Factor: Point Guard Andrew Hurd ’16

I get the feeling that the opposing strengths of these two teams leans in favor of Wesleyan, and for that reason it will be crucial for Hurd to step up and play big for the Bantams. Starks gets a lot of credit for leading the Bantams offense, but Hurd is actually the team’s top assist man with 3.0 per game. He will often replace Starks on the court, but when they are on the floor together Hurd does most of the initiating of the offense, and they figure to be active together for a lot of this game in order to matchup with Wesleyan’s guards. Hurd will have to play solid basketball on both ends of the floor for the Bants to hold off the visiting Cardinals.

Three Questions:

1. Is Joseph Kuo ’17 ready for a bruising?

Ogundeko and Papadeas are two of the strongest big men in the NESCAC, and maybe in all of D-III. Ogundeko has really evolved as player since NESCAC play started. Kuo is the only real big man that Wesleyan rolls out on a regular basis. Expect Tugman and Gallivan to get some extra minutes in order to give Kuo a breather, but the sophomore is going to have to play big to keep Wesleyan in this one.

2. Which game does Trinity decide to play?

The one where they score in the 80s and 90s and just outshoot their opponents, or the one like the 71-69 win over Williams where the teams shot a combined 37.1 percent from the field, 25 percent from deep and 54.8 percent from the stripe?

The beauty for the Bantams is that they know they can win both ways, but I don’t think they want to get into a shootout. As a rule, Trinity likes low-scoring games.

As Starks put it in an interview with contributor Carson Kenney, “As usual we have been focusing on defense. We know that Wesleyan is a good shooting team. So our game plan is simply make them take tough, contested shots and don’t give them anything free and easy. If we take away their three point shooters I feel it will be tough for them to beat us. If we don’t do that then we will have a tough time beating them.”

3. What the heck are Trinity Days?

Well since we fancy ourselves journalists we went ahead and found out. Trinity students get two days off each semester around a weekend (how the College decides those days is beyond me) and it just so happened that Thursday and Friday of this week were off for all students. So, a lot of students are home for a long weekend. How many will come back early to cheer on their Bants is an important question. A lot of alums should still make Oosting pretty full, but there’s nothing better than a student section at a college basketball game.

What to Expect

Expect the game that the Bantams want to play; slow, tough and physical. Wesleyan is going to be hard-pressed to get any points in the paint, which will mean a lot of three-pointers and long jumpers, but Trinity won’t allow for many offensive rebounds. The Bantams will then look to chuck the ball into the paint and let the big men work.

The matchup will really come down to how well Wesleyan shoots the ball, and Wesleyan Head Coach Joe Reilly agrees. “[The reality of the NESCAC tournament is it’s going to be a team that shoots the ball well from the perimeter,” Reilly said. My mind is saying Trinity will win this one. They’ve beaten Wesleyan before, they’ve been the best team all year and they’re at home. But they’ve also won a lot of close games and barely squeaked by #8 Colby in the Quarterfinals. They haven’t been a dominant top seed, and with the Cards flying high I think they have a good shot at the upset. Damn the mind, my heart is going with Wesleyan. And isn’t heart what the playoffs are all about?

Prediction: Wesleyan 75 – Trinity 70

New Year, New NESCAC: Stock Report 1/5

Wesleyan Basketball went south for some sun over break. (Courtesy of Wesleyan Basketball)
Wesleyan Basketball went south for some sun over break. (Courtesy of Wesleyan Basketball)

While we were busy sleeping off our New Year’s Hangover (I’m 21 now so I can openly say I drink.), NESCAC players were back in the gym playing in more non-conference games. Practically every NESCAC team returned to practice the day after Christmas which meant that NESCAC coaches had to wait one more day to play Santa. Their present to their players was mostly running until those wonderful Christmas dinners were all gone, one way or another.

Teams have been back at it for a couple weeks now, and it has been a month since we really took a dive into how teams around the NESCAC are doing, so this is overdue. Conference play starts up on Friday so this week is all about gearing up for a full slate of conference games.

If you have not looked recently, here is the link to the NESCAC Standings, but only a couple of things are really necessary to know. Middlebury is undefeated but hasn’t beat anybody notable, Tufts has stumbled to a 3-6 record despite high preseason expectations, and everybody else has a couple of losses.

Stock Up

Freshman Role Players: Slowly some freshmen are starting to integrate themselves into the rotations for teams as the season wears on. Two big reasons for this is the many more hours of practice freshmen have had over break and injuries to those in front of them. Chris Galvin ’18 has now started three games for Williams and is averaging more than 20 minutes a game. One of the main recipients of the minutes from injured Bowdoin forward Neil Fuller ’17  appears to be swingman Liam Farley ’18, the only true small forward on the Bowdoin roster. Vincent Pace ’18 is the one of the first men off the bench for Tufts. Other more fringe rotation players like Justin Zukowski ’18 (Bates) and Jordan Sears ’18 (Wesleyan) are also one tweaked ankle from having a big impact.

Coach Joe Reilly (Wesleyan): After the 2012-2013 season ended in disappointment, Wesleyan had basically a new roster last year with most of the minutes going to sophomores and freshmen. The rebuilding effort is ahead of schedule right now with a 10-2 record so far. The beautiful thing about Wesleyan is that their top five players are so even in scoring that it seems like every game on of them takes a turn leading the Cardinals in scoring. Jack Mackey ’16 has settled into the point guard position, though he still commits too many turnovers. Joseph Kuo ’17 and Rashid Epps ’16 have been great rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive end. Even though the Cardinals lost in overtime to Williams, given how wide open the NESCAC is, they are thinking that they might just crash the upper echelon a year earlier than expected.

Forward Dylan Sinnickson ’15 (Middlebury): Known as much for his flowing locks as much as his play, Sinnickson ditched the hair earlier this year and has not seen his play suffer. He now leads the NESCAC in points and rebounds per game with 19.9 and 12.1 respectively. Those statistics become even more impressive when adjusted for the fact that he has only played 28.4 minutes per game, a full 7.6 minutes less than Graham Safford ’15. The senior forward can score in a variety of ways for Middlebury, but it is two way ability that makes him so special right now. The uncertainty of who will play in the post for the Panthers is much less important as long as Sinnickson continues to rebound this way. Sinnickson will need to play well tonight when the Panthers face their best test yet in Plattsburgh State.

Stock Down

Bates on the Road: The one critique about Bates hot start before Christmas was that most of it came at home. Their big victories over Colby and Bowdoin put everyone on notice, but the home advantage of Alumni Gym is significant. Credit to Bates for going on the road before New Years and playing Emory, a top 10 team nationally. Bates lost to Emory handily, but the game was actually closer than the final suggested despite a multitude of Bates turnovers. However, their loss the next day to Birmingham Southern, a team that Wesleyan defeated going away a few weeks before is much more worrisome. If Bates wants to host a NESCAC tournament game then they will have to win at least two of their away NESCAC games. Of course, Bates only conference victory last season was on the road against Middlebury, sooooo… That victory over Middlebury remains one of the most puzzling games of the last few seasons.

Hamilton Scheduling: Coming into the season we pegged Hamilton as the team that would end up in the cellar. Then we looked up and realized that the Continentals were 10-2.

So how did Hamilton go 10-2 when they started 7-5 last season? Well in large part they went over their schedule and took out all of the teams they lost to in 2013-2014. SUNY New Paltz is the only team Hamilton lost to last year that the Continentals have played so far. Though they will play Keystone, another team they lost to, later in the season, the Continentals still are a huge question mark because of the quality of their non-conference competition. The aggregate record of Hamilton’s opponents this season: 51-68 (43%). They have played more close games than anybody in the NESCAC also. The Continentals deserve credit for their early season success, but do not let their gaudy record fool you too much.

Perception: Maybe the craziest statistic we have managed to unearth thus far is the eery similarity in non-conference records for the NESCAC. At this point in the schedule in 2013-2014, NESCAC teams had lost 32 games, and so far this year they have lost 31. The general perception of the league is not only that it is wide-open but also a little down because of all the lost talent from the class of 2014 and transfers of Hart and Robinson. Easier schedules for NESCAC teams could mean that the gaudy records of NESCAC teams is a mirage. Middlebury in particular has a much easier schedule than last season. Also see Hamilton in the section above this. Yet easier schedules for some teams might miss the overall picture. The NESCAC is unquestionably deeper than it has been in years past meaning that teams will have no easy games in conference. The question is whether the NCAA tournament selection committee will reward the NESCAC for that depth or if the league will see two or even possibly even only one team go to the NCAAs.