Calm Before the Storm: Women’s Power Rankings 1/4

After over ten non-conference games for the women of NESCAC basketball, the games that ‘count’ finally begin on Friday. I put count in parentheses because every game is important, but it is conference record determines playoff seeding— not overall record. Instead of traveling to unknown frontiers, teams will see familiar town signs such as Williamstown, Amherst, and Middletown. Obscure team mascots give way to ones we’ve become accustomed to: the Jumbos, Bobcats, and Panthers. Finally the alumni and non-winter athletes still enjoying winter break can boast to their friends how their school is better. Let’s take a look at the power rankings the day before conference play begins:

1). Amherst College (11-0)

Amherst comes into conference play with a perfect overall record. Only one of their eleven games was within a ten point score differential. The Momouths have simply dominated their opponents. One of the victories came over Little Three Rival Wesleyan in an absolute trouncing. Sharp Shooter Hannah Fox ‘20 has shown no signs of a sophomore slump. She has led her team in points and minutes thus far. Amherst’s strength in schedule hasn’t been great over these eleven games, but that shouldn’t take away from how good this team is. The squad opens up on its home floor against Trinity on Friday night. The strength of schedule definitely will pick up since the NESCAC is one of the strongest sports conferences in all of Division Three athletics. After Trinity, Amherst will play Wesleyan and Conn College. These games won’t be roll overs, but I expect Amherst to get to 3-0 in the league without too much trouble.

2). Tufts University (10-1)

Many Bowdoin Polar Bears fans won’t be too happy with Tufts landing a spot higher than their 11-0 Polar Bears. Tufts’ narrow loss to Albright College in a game right after Christmas doesn’t concern me in the slightest. I believe that Amherst and Tufts right now are still 1A and 1B. Every other game Tufts has blown out its opponent. I believe that Tufts has had a stronger schedule relative to Amherst and Bowdoin so far. With convincing wins against solid non-NESCAC teams, Tufts remains right there with Amherst. Jac Knapp ‘19 leads the charge for the Bo’s averaging just over ten points per game and an incredible thirty-three minutes per game on the floor.

3). Bowdoin Polar Bears  (11-0)

Kate Kerrigan
Kate Kerrigan ’18 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

People believed that NESCAC women’s basketball is a two team league with Amherst and Tufts dominating the entire conference. Well, enter Bowdoin. After a solid run in the playoffs last year, the Polar Bears are looking to over take those two other teams. The real positive news is that Bowdoin won’t have trouble with Bates or Colby with complete blowouts over the two rivals in December. The non-conference strength of schedule isn’t great beyond those two teams. I don’t think Bowdoin has been challenged yet. They open up Friday against Bates, which shouldn’t be a big deal, but they host Tufts on Saturday. That’s going to be a huge game. The teams will inevitably meet again come playoff time, but this early season match can possibly send the teams in two separate directions momentum wise. Kate Kerrigan ‘18 leads the team in scoring, but she only logs around twenty-two minutes per game. That’s a great stat for Bowdoin, who certainly wants to make a deep tournament run with fresh legs.

4). Middlebury College (9-2)

There is a significant drop off following the top three teams, but I still really like how Middlebury has played so far. They flew to the West Coast to face the Claremont schools in a tournament. The California schools, in my opinion, offer greater competition to NESCAC schools looking to gear up for the conference season. The Panthers lost a heartbreaker in the first game to Claremont-Mud-Scripps before ending the trip with an impressive win over Pomona-Pitzer. I think Middlebury is poised to secure the fourth seed when it’s all said and done. The Panthers open up against Conn College on Friday and Wesleyan on Saturday. I think that Wes and Middlebury are two middle of the pack teams in the ‘Cac, so that should be an interesting game to watch. Maya Davis ‘20 has come into her own this year average around ten points per game and logging just north of twenty-seven minutes per contest.

5). Wesleyan University (8-2)

Olivia Gorman
Olivia Gorman ’19 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

My ability to watch Wes in person probably boosts their ranking a bit. They took a trip down to Nashville, and came away with a winning streak. Prior to the Nashville trip, they took Williams to overtime, and beat them. Wes is a scrappy team with hustle plays at both ends of the court leading to positive plays. Olivia Gorman ‘19 leads the team in scoring at around twelve points per game. She stands only 5’ 4”, but her determination to get to the cup negates her lack of physical dominance

6). Hamilton College (9-2)

Like I said earlier, it’s really a toss up for these middle of the conference teams. Teams four through nine can all compete and really win on any given night. Hamilton has played well so far, but the only reason why they’re below teams four and five is their schedule. They didn’t take a trip to compete against schools from other parts of the country, so I don’t think that upstate New York schools are as good as the California schools or some southern squads. Hamilton doesn’t face any of the top three teams for a little bit; expect Hamilton to win some games at the beginning, but like everyone else, the narrative will change once they run into the top three. Carly O’Hern ‘20 is a solid guard, and leads the team in scoring averaging over eleven a game.

7). Connecticut College (9-2)

Mairead Hynes
Mairead Hynes ’18 (Courtesy of Connecticut College Athletics)

Conn knocked off instate rival Trinity in early December. The Camels have used that as momentum, and have churned out a solid record so far. Again, the strength of schedule so far hasn’t been great–understandably so. The Camels play Middlebury and Williams on Friday and Saturday respectively to open up league play. I would be surprised if they come out of the weekend 2-0, but if they do, that would prove that they’re one of the better teams in this conference. Mairead Hynes ‘18 has been dominant scoring the ball (17 ppg), which is second in the league.

8). Trinity College (9-2)

It’s hard to judge teams when they’re playing such different opponents. Similar to Hamilton, the only knock on Trinity is its strength of schedule so far. I think all the teams above them have played tougher opponents. The Bantams are still 9-2, but the arrival of league games will be eye opening for everyone. Trinity is led by Courtney Erickson ‘19, who averages a very impressive fourteen points per game

9). Williams College (8-4)

Kristin Fechtelkotter
Kristin Fechtelkotter ’18 (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Williams’ four losses have raised some eyebrows. One would think that those four losses would come as a result of some strong non-league opponents. However, losses to Rochester and Depauw aren’t going to cut it in this league. What happens when Amherst and Tufts come in? Williams can’t embarrass themselves. However, Williams is Williams and it’s hard to imagine that they won’t find  a way to win. Senior Kristin Fechtelkotter leads the team in scoring (13.3 PPG). The Ephs open against Wesleyan tomorrow and Conn on Saturday. Where do they travel the following week? Medford to face Tufts. That should be interesting.

10). Colby College (5-4)

It’s unfortunate for Colby and Bates that Bowdoin is their instate neighbor. 5-4 is a solid league record, but for non-league play, it’s not great. The same schools other NESCAC teams have blown out actually beat Colby or came close to beating them. It’s going to be a long season for the Mules, but at least they know they’ll have Bates below them. I feel like Colby is destined for the ten spot because they’re not nearly as good as the teams above them, but they’re certainly better than Bates. Haley Driscoll ‘18 leads the team in scoring, and is maybe the best center in a perimeter-dominated league.

11). Bates College (5-7)

As athletes, we’ve all been on bad teams. There’s nothing worse than going into a season knowing that your team is bad. I’ve been on plenty of bad teams in my life, which makes you truly understand how special the good teams you’ve been on are. There’s no circumventing this: Bates isn’t good. I don’t see them picking up very many league wins if any. It must be frustrating for Nina Davenport ‘18, who leads the league in scoring (20 ppg). She’s consistently one of the best scorers in the league, but Bates rarely backs her up with a W.

Nina Davenport ’18 has been somewhat stranded on Bates’ team this season.

Cold Weather, Hot Takes on NESCAC Women’s Basketball

To quote Game of Thrones, ‘winter is here.’ NESCAC women’s basketball is already in full swing with an onslaught of non league games. While these games don’t go into the record books for NESCAC standings, they are nevertheless very important, so that each teams starts the season on the right foot. There have been some surprises thus far, and there are teams that have played like I predicted. Let’s take a look at my three hot takes going into winter break:

Bowdoin is Now a Top Dog

Tufts and Amherst dominated the spotlight in everyone’s preseason power rankings. Their incredible success last year deservingly gave them the top two spots of the standings in predictions for this season. However, something is going on in Brunswick, ME. The Bowdoin Polar Bears are 8-0. One of those wins was an thirty-four point trouncing over the Colby Mules. I don’t want to toot my own horn here, but I predicted Bowdoin to be very good; I didn’t predict them to be this good. The Polar Bears as a team led the NESCAC in all relevant offensive categories. While questions can be raised as to whether or not Bowdoin can actually beat Tufts and Amherst, there’s no question that the Polar Bears are a force to be reckoned with. They average an incredible eighty-four points per game as a team, with four players who average double figures in points: Taylor Choate ‘19, Kate Kerrigan ‘18, Lauren Petit ‘18, and Abby Kelly ‘19.

Taylor Choate ’19 is just one of the players who have led Bowdoin to a dominant start.

These four upperclassmen have set the tone for the team. While the competition they’ve played isn’t as stout as it will be when conference games kick in, boasting a perfect record is obviously a great sign for the squad. These four women have been there and done it before, so when times get inevitably tough down the stretch, look for them to push the team over the hump. The team will kick off league play on January 5th against Bates, and will play the Jumbos the following night. Rest assured, the polar bears will take one game at a time, but they have to be looking forward to Tufts. That’s their opportunity to show the world that Bowdoin has arrived.

Wesleyan Will be Better than Last Year (#RollCards #DirtyBirds)

It’s really tough to say how well a team will do after non-conference games. It’s clear that the NESCAC is one of the strongest conferences in the country. I watched Wes beat a team by sixty-six points last weekend. There’s not much secret to the success of NESCAC teams: the women just play at a quicker, higher, stronger (or Citius, Altius, Fortius just in case my high school Latin teachers are reading this) pace. Wesleyan was 1-9 last year in league play, but I think they’ll be better after watching them a bit this year. The team is always up on the bench–showing how well they support one another, and how badly they want to win. The team is led by Olivia Gorman ‘19, who averages around twelve points per game. The Cards look like they’ve been infused with new energy and talent. Emma Roush ‘21 leads all freshmen in scoring (7.0 PPG), and offers a tough, scrappy play style on both ends of the court. Good teams need players like these: Draymond Green of the Warriors and Marcus Smart for the Celtics contribute far more than the box score reveals. Defense translates to offense with these players, and it starts with their hustle. Roush is no different. Wesleyan got a wake up call, however, after they were smacked by Amherst. It didn’t count in the conference standings, but it shows that Wesleyan still isn’t at peak performance yet.

Nina Davenport is the Devin Booker of the NESCAC. MVP?

Nina Davenport ’18 is one of the most dynamic scorers the league has seen in a long time.

Nina Davenport ‘18 of the Bates Bobcats is putting up MVP like numbers. She averages around twenty-two points per game, and adds seven rebounds per contest too. Enter Devin Booker. Booker, a guard for the Phoenix Suns, puts up unbelievable numbers. He’s a lights out shooter, good slasher, and an all around incredible scorer. Davenport reminds me of Booker because she’s a good shooter, but she gets to the cup too; she scores in a variety of ways. Sounds all positive, right? Except for the fact that the Suns aren’t good. Neither is Bates. Bates is the only team in the NESCAC with a losing record thus far. That statistic would be fine if we were talking about games against Bowdoin, Amherst, and Tufts, but these are non-league opponents. Bates should be crushing them. As a result, it’s tough for me to justify saying that Davenport is the MVP. Yes, she puts up MVP numbers, but an MVP can’t be on a bad team in my opinion. Take a player like Maddie Bledsoe of Wesleyan. She’s a walking double-double averaging eleven rebounds and ten points per game. Granted Wesleyan won’t finish atop the league, but I think they’ll be the biggest turnaround team this year. Bates doesn’t look like they’ll turn it around. I’m not saying that Bledsoe will be the MVP, but that player should come from a team that’s playing well.

All Roads Go Through Amherst: NESCAC Semifinals and Finals Preview

 

Emma McCarthy ’19 and Amherst are set to host this weekend’s NESCAC semifinals and finals in hopes of repeating as NESCAC champs (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).

I need to open this piece by apologizing to everybody who is a fan of Middlebury athletics. In the fall I picked the Middlebury women’s soccer team to win the NESCAC tournament, they were bounced in the semifinal. Last week, I picked the women’s basketball team to beat Colby and advance to the semifinals. They too, were defeated. Clearly, Liamstradamus, as I lovingly called myself earlier, is cursed. Please forgive me. Regardless of my personal failings though, and there are many, the world kept spinning and NESCAC basketball kept churning along. We’re down to four remaining teams, a final four if you will, and they’re squaring off this weekend in the semifinals and finals, hosted in Amherst. Before we get to the predictions for this weekend, let’s take a look back at the weekend that got us here.

 

NESCAC Quarterfinals Recap

1. Amherst defeated 8. Bates 76-35

Amherst continued their undefeated season with a thorough dismantling of the team from Lewiston. A surprise tournament appearance was the culmination of an up and down season for the Bobcats who finished the year 8-17 overall. The game was basically over as soon as it began, with Amherst jumping to a commanding 22-5 lead after just one quarter of play. Although Bates played a good second quarter, the lead continued to grow until Amherst had run them out of the gym. The big story coming from the game though was the disturbing play of Nina Davenport ’18, who fouled out after only playing 3 total minutes. Without their leading scorer, the Bobcats were forced to lean heavily on their four other starters who recorded 37, 35, 38, and 31 minutes as a unit. Amherst relied on Emma McCarthy ’19 who turned in a 19-point and 9-rebound performance.

 

2. Tufts defeated 7. Williams 58-40

Michela North ’17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

Tufts remained hot on Amherst’s heels with a convincing victory over a talented Williams team. Tufts, the number three team in the most recent D3hoops poll, had a 14-point lead at halftime and never looked back as they closed out this quarterfinal battle. Michela North ’17 led all scorers with 14 points, while two other Jumbos contributed 11 points as the team advanced. Williams shot themselves in the foot with 23 turnovers, and they also struggled to rebound the ball, getting outrebounded by five. The Ephs were much closer in other statistical categories. The Jumbos barely outshot Williams in terms of percentage, and the Ephs also generated 16 points in the paint, a solid number for the team. Again, I have to come back to them getting absolutely killed by turnovers. Tufts attempted 22 more shots than the Ephs as a result of the extra possessions. That disparity is nearly impossible to overcome for a poor shooting team like Williams.

 

3. Bowdoin defeated 6. Conn College 72-47

Bowdoin continued their string of impressive performances with an evisceration of the visiting Camels. The Polar Bears have now climbed to number 17 in the latest D3hoops poll and look poised to make some noise in the national tournament. Despite trailing after one quarter of play, the Bowdoin refused to give up and stormed back to take the lead by halftime. A dominant third quarter put the game out of reach and ended the hopeful Camels’ season. Bowdoin managed to get 15 players into the game and saw production spread across the starters and bench units that entered the game. Marle Curle ’17 and Taylor Choate ’19 scored in double digits, but also contributed four and five rebounds respectively, as well as three assists each. Bowdoin is playing dominant basketball right now and looks just as impressive as their record would indicate.

 

5. Colby defeated 4. Middlebury 48-39

I hate to say I told you so, but I did and I don’t hate it so… I told you so. Sarah Kaufman ’18 has been Middlebury’s engine all year. In wins she has averaged over 15 points a game, in losses she has struggled to crack 5. Colby clearly keyed in on Kaufman, forcing her into contested looks and limiting her to only 10 points on 3-7 shooting. Middlebury’s depth, which I lauded last weekend as one of their strengths, collapsed in the quarterfinals. The bench unit is largely comprised of first years and the intensity in a do or die NESCAC playoff game is definitely a step up from a normal regular season contest. Colby was carried by the duo of MK Caverly ’17 and Haley Driscoll ’18 who scored 18 and 12 points respectively. Middlebury is surely disappointed in this loss. They’ve been a dominant unit all season and outrebounded and assisted the Mules, but it was in vain. Their season ends, and the Mules trot off to their second straight NESCAC semifinal appearance.

 

NESCAC Semifinals Preview

So, with the quarterfinals out of the way all we have left is one action packed weekend of semifinals and final to tide us over until the NCAA tournament begins. Amherst, Tufts, and Bowdoin are all, in my mind, locks to make the NCAAs regardless of the outcome this weekend, but if Colby wants to keep playing they’re going to have to find a way to win two games against some really tough competition. So, let’s take a look at the Mules’ chances this coming weekend.

 

1. Amherst vs. 5. Colby

 

The Mules are going to need a big game out of Haley Driscoll ’18 if they are to have a shot against Amherst on Saturday (Courtesy of Colby Athletics).

Although Colby looked good this weekend in dispatching the Panthers, taking on this team from Western Mass is an entirely differently animal. When the two teams met in late January, Amherst dominated the game and strolled out with a convincing 69-43 victory. The biggest problem for Colby will be their ability to score. Holding Amherst down is difficult, they’ve only scored less than 50 points twice this year, and one of those games was the rock fight they had with Tufts a couple weekends ago. Colby is the ninth best offense in the NESCAC in terms of scoring offense and didn’t even crack 50 in their win this past weekend against Middlebury. As the Mules’ leading scorer and rebounder Driscoll will have to put on an absolute show for Colby to have any chance in this game. Additionally, Colby will need to find a way to shut down Amherst’s three point attack. Amherst is one of the best shooting teams in the conference, but Colby is one of the best at defending the three point line. A big game from Driscoll, combined with limiting Amherst’s three point opportunities will be the key to success for the Mules. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening. Amherst is too deep, too talented, and too consistent to lose this game. They beat Colby and advance to the finals with a dominating win.

Writer’s Pick: Amherst

 

2. Tufts vs. 3. Bowdoin

Taylor Choate ’19 and Bowdoin are hoping for revenge against Amherst after their previous meeting this season (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics).

This game should be much more exciting than the Amherst vs. Colby game. Bowdoin has been playing some of their best basketball as of late. They’ve won 9 straight games since their loss to Amherst, and the average margin of victory in those games has been an impressive 26 points. Yes, this also includes the 40-point demolitions of fellow semifinalist, Colby, and Hamilton, who nearly missed the tournament. Tufts, meanwhile, has been winning all year. That’s it, Tufts just wins. They’re 24-1 and their only loss has come to undefeated Amherst. Any year when you can put together 24 wins is surely a successful one, but I’m sure Tufts is itching to avenge their 1-point losses to Amherst earlier this year and in the NESCAC finals last year. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll get the chance. Bowdoin is my pick for this game and I’ll tell you why. The last time these two teams played Tufts narrowly defeated Bowdoin 46-43. But there were a couple of factors in that game that indicate to me that it was an anomaly. Firstly, Bowdoin averages only 15 turnovers per game this year, in their first matchup with Tufts they coughed up the rock 30 times. Secondly, Bowdoin is at their best when they can spread the ball around and get everyone involved. No Polar Bear averages more than 10 points per game, and 8 average more than 5. In their games against Tufts, Bowdoin relied heavily on one player, Abigail Kelly ’19, who scored 21 points. The next highest scoring Polar Bear was Ally Silfen ’17 with 8. And thirdly, Bowdoin shot only 30 percent from the field in that game, while their season average is second best in the conference at 43.3. Of course, I would be remiss to exclude the possibility that Tufts might have just forced this upon Bowdoin in their first game. Tufts is very good at forcing turnovers, generating 22.4 a game. Their exceptional defense also allows just 31.5% shooting and only 42.1 points per game. The Jumbos are a very talented team and certainly, as the two seed, enjoy some sense of favoritism in this game. I just think that given Bowdoin’s recent show of excellence, the strange nature of their first game against Tufts, and the fact that this game is being played in Amherst rather than Medford, the situation is ripe for Bowdoin to sneak a win from the mighty Jumbos and leap into the conference finals.

Writer’s Pick: Bowdoin

 

NESCAC Finals Prediction

Wow that was a long one. Sorry about that I got a little caught up. Let’s move on and take a look at my presumptive finals matchup, Amherst vs. Bowdoin, since I won’t have time to churn out another article between Saturday and Sunday.

 

1. Amherst vs. 3. Bowdoin

The last time these two teams squared off Amherst ran away with the game, winning 66-45 on Bowdoin’s home court. I wrote afterward that Bowdoin had to be perturbed that they looked so helpless against the upper echelons of the conference. Since that game however, Bowdoin has been on a tear, winning their last nine. While Bowdoin has stepped up their game as of late, Amherst is continuing their routine of absolute dominance. 25-0 does not happen by accident. A near unanimous position atop the national top 25 is no fluke either. Right now, Amherst is the favorite in every game they play, and the same is true in this game. This game could certainly come down to a 3 point competition. These teams are numbers one and two in the league in total three-pointers made (Amherst being one and Bowdoin being two). In terms of percentage, Bowdoin is best in the league with Amherst claiming the second spot. The real difference between the two comes when defending the 3 point line. Bowdoin is a middling 3 point defensive team, in terms of both total makes conceded and percentage allowed. Amherst, on the other hand, is the best team in the league in terms of  three-point defense, conceding the least amount of made threes and forcing their opponents to shoot the worst percentage in the league. Amherst’s league topping defense in points allowed per game will also have to shut down Bowdoin’s league-best offense in terms of points scored per game. Bowdoin’s hope has to be that this game turns into a shootout. The Polar are an extremely balanced scoring team, perhaps the most in the league. They have to hope their shooters, Lauren Petit ’18, Kate Kerrigan ’18, Curle and Kelly can outshoot Amherst for a full 40 minutes. On the other side though is the NESCAC’s fifth-leading scorer Ali Doswell ’17 and her cohort of talented teammates. Emma McCarthy ’19 and Hannah Hackley ’18 could have huge games to power the purple, and don’t sleep on Ali’s twin sister Meredith Doswell ’17, the team’s 4th leading scorer and 2nd leading rebounder to quietly propel her team to victory. I think Amherst has enough firepower to defend their NESCAC crown.

Writer’s Pick: Amherst

 

As this weekend draws closer and we begin to wrap-up an exciting season of basketball, I’d just like to thank everybody who has read even one of these articles. They’ve been fun to write and have certainly allowed me to become more accustomed with the women’s side of the NESCAC, something I rarely get to do as a player for the men’s team (Coach won’t let me watch the women’s games on my phone on the bench, which is just ridiculous. C’mon, Coach, it’s 2017). I’m looking forward to seeing how this weekend turns out. I am sad my friends on the Middlebury women’s team couldn’t make it this far, but we’re still left with four great teams and two more hair raising games of NESCAC basketball. So, let’s all enjoy the weekend and watch some of the best teams in the country duke it out one last time!

It’s Finally Here: Women’s Basketball Conference Schedule Preview

Lauren Dillon ’18 has been a spark plug for the #1 Jumbos all season with her relentless hustle (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

While much has been said in the last week about NESCAC men’s basketball (5 teams in the top 25 as of the writing of this piece), the women’s branch of the NESCAC has been gearing up for the beginning of their own conference schedule. With 10 of the 11 teams boasting winning records going into conference play this weekend the next couple weeks are sure to be filled with exciting games and action. But, before the games start, I need to make some predictions as I am prone to do. I’m choosing to write this article in a power ranking format where each team will be positioned based on where I project them to finish in the final standings.

 

  1. #1 Tufts (Record: 10-0)

Tufts is currently ranked number 1 in the D3 hoops most recent women’s top 25 poll, so thusly they will occupy the top spot here. While Tufts doesn’t score at the rate of their NESCAC competition, averaging 64.5 points a game, their real strength lies in their defense. They are notoriously stingy allowing only 42.5 points a game. The Tufts anchor right now has to be senior center Michela North ’17. She is averaging 10.1 ppg and 7.8 rpg leading her team in both categories. Until someone unseats the Jumbos, who have been blowing people out by an average margin of victory of 21.9 PPG, they will remain at the top of this list.

 

  1. #2 Amherst (10-0)

Amherst is right on Tufts’ tail in both the D3 Hoops rankings and in these ranking where they occupy the same position: number two. Amherst’s offense has been flat out dominant this year. They are second in the NESCAC in ppg with 78.2 and in field goal percentage where they shoot a blistering 45.2 percent from the field. They also lead the NESCAC in 3pt percentage bombing away with a 37.3 percent success rate. Don’t knock the other aspects of Amherst’s game though. They lead the NESCAC in rebounding margin and are second in points allowed per game. The standout right now is junior guard/forward Hannah Hackley ’18. The Westford, Massachusetts product is averaging 11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. The only knock right now on Amherst is a slight worry about their lack of depth. They only have one senior on the team and rely heavily on their first 6 players. Of course, benches will shorten during the NESCAC season anyway and Amherst has proven in the past to be able to win with almost any collection of players, so they’re certainly looking forward to this season.

 

  1. #17 Bowdoin (10-1)
Following numerous post-season honors last winter, Kate Kerrigan is leading the Polar Bears again this year (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics).

Bowdoin, in many ways has been the best team in the NESCAC this year, but they have a loss so for now we’re dropping them below Tufts and Amherst. Even their loss though, a 70-62 overtime defeat to Claremont, can be excused at least partially as it was their first game after their Christmas break. Bowdoin leads the NESCAC in scoring so far averaging a stunning 80.7 points per game. They aren’t sacrificing efficiency though as they also lead the league in field goal percentage at 46.3 percent and surrender the fewest turnovers per game, only 13.7. Kate Kerrigan ’18 has been key to Bowdoin’s explosive early season play. The 5’7” guard leads her team in points a game with 10.5, and she is second in rebounding and third in assists. She’s also tied for the team lead in steals with 1.5 a game. However, it’s Kerrigan’s shooting prowess that really shines through. She’s shooting over 55 percent from both the field and the three point line while also leading her team in field goals attempted per game. Bowdoin will certainly challenge Amherst and Tufts this year and seems poised to threaten either team come NESCAC championship time. Their Friday night tilt at Tufts should be a wild one.

 

  1. Trinity (9-2)

After the top three teams, the league becomes much tighter. Four teams have two losses and all have also won at least 8 games. Trinity gets the nod here though as they combine a top four scoring offense with a top 5 defense. They have also been particularly dominant on the boards averaging a rebounding margin of  11.8 good for second in the league. After losing their season opener Trinity rattled off 8 straight wins and have displayed a potent offense, averaging 15.6 assists a game and shooting over 40 percent from the field. There are some concerns regarding their average of 17.2 turnovers per game, a number the coaching staff will surely hope to limit moving forward. Trinity relies heavily on sophomore center Courtney Erickson ’19 who is the only Bantam averaging double digits in points per game with 13.3. Her rebounding has also been excellent where she averages 7.4 per game. Trinity will have a chance to secure the number four spot this weekend when they play the next team on this list.

 

  1. Williams (10-2)

Williams is hot on Trinity’s heels for the fourth spot in the conference through the first 12 games of the season. Williams has proven that they can win both tight, ugly games (44-40 over Smith College) and in blowouts (66-46 over Springfield College). They also already have a quality win against a NESCAC opponent defeating Wesleyan in their Little 3 rivalry game 64-59. To maintain this position Williams will have to rely on a stingy defense that only allows 52.9 point per game. They are also third in the conference in field goal percentage defense forcing teams into shooting only 32 percent from the field. Much of Williams’ success will rely on Devon Caveney ’17. The 5’7 guard leads her team in scoring and stealing and is second on her team in assists per game with 2.7. Her coaches and teammates surely hope her three point shooting will improve (only 24.5 percent through 11 games) as NESCAC play begins and defenses tighten up.

 

  1. Conn College (9-2)
Payton Ouimette has been a leader for the Camels so far this season (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics).

Conn College has leapt out to an excellent start. One of their two losses came against Babson, a fringe top 25 team, and the loss was only by 9 points. Conn College has relied heavily on their offense, averaging 71.9 points per game, good for third in the league. Unfortunately their defense has been porous at times. They surrender 57.5 points a game, the second worst tally in the league, but this might be due to their high octane style of play. The Camels are second in the league in total field goals attempted and the gap between themselves and the third place team in nearly 50 shots. Conn relies heavily on two players Mairead Hynes ‘18 and Payton Ouimette ’19. Combined, the two are averaging 24.1 points per game and 16.7 rebounds. Hynes has also added 1.6 steals and nearly a block a game for good measure. The Camels’ hopes rest on the shoulders of these two and the rest of their starting five who have started all 11 games so far and are the only players averaging more than 20 minutes per game.

 

  1. Middlebury (8-2)

Middlebury has jumped out to a fast start and is looking to assert themselves as one of the better teams in the league. Much like several other teams on this list, Middlebury will live and die on the back of their defense. The Panthers currently allow a measly 47.5 points per game, good for third in the league, boast the fourth best rebounding margin in the league with 10.0, and only allow their opponents to shoot 33.7 percent from the field, good for fourth in the league. While the team’s defense has been commendable, their offense has struggled to consistently generate points. They rank in the bottom 4th of the league in points per game, assists per game, and field goal percentage. In their only two losses of the year the Panthers have failed to reach 50 points and struggled significantly from the field. A great deal of Middlebury’s offense comes from only 3 players, Colleen Caveney ’19, Catherine Harrison ’19, and Sarah Kaufman ’18, who are averaging 13.1, 10.0, and 9.7 points per game respectively. Caveney has been particularly impressive this year, averaging 4.3 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals, and shooting more than 44 percent from three on the season. Middlebury will have to step up their game on the offensive side of the ball to challenge for a spot at the top of the conference.

 

  1. Hamilton (5-4)

Hamilton started the season slowly, losing their first three games, but rebounded quickly and have gone 5-1 in the interim, hoping to continue that string of success in NESCAC play. Hamilton is a middling team in the conference on both offense and defense. They rank sixth in points scored per game and eighth in points allowed, but are the 5th best rebounding team in the conference based on rebounding margin with 8.3. Hamilton has also held their opponents to only 33.9 percent from the field and have also pressured opposing ball handlers well forcing 16.1 turnovers a game. Hamilton places a lot of their offensive burden on Lauren Getman ’18 the only player averaging double figures in points per game with 11.4. Getman has also been Hamilton’s leading rebounder on the year with 6.6 per game. The team as a whole has shot well from three, making these shots at a 33.3 percent clip, and Getman has been no exception shooting 55.6 percent from three on two attempts per game. Hamilton must hope for growth during NESCAC play from their second leading scorer Mackenzie Aldridge ’20 to challenge for a higher spot in the conference.

 

  1. Colby (6-4)

Colby ranks lower than Hamilton here due, at least partially, due to their propensity to get blown out when they lose. In all four of their losses Colby has fell by a double digit margin, and in two losses the margins were 20 and 22. Of course, one of those losses was in a non-conference battle with Bowdoin but that doesn’t bode well for a team hoping to remain competitive in the NESCAC after their trip to the semi-finals of the conference tournament last year. Colby has struggled on the boards compared to their NESCAC counterparts, only tallying a margin of 5.7 which is eighth in the league. Colby has also struggled to generate turnovers and allows their opponents to shoot 36 percent from the field, the second worst rating in the league. Where the defense has struggled, the offense has been at least serviceable. They average a middling 60.1 points per game, and have been the 6th most efficient team in the conference shooting 38.6 percent from the field. Haley Driscoll ‘18 has been the Mules’ bread and butter this year. The 5’11 center from Bedford, New Hampshire has been averaging 11.7 points per game and pulling 6.4 rebounds per game. She has also added 1.1 steals per game. Driscoll will need to carry much of the load for the Mules going forward.

 

  1. Wesleyan (5-5)

Wesleyan has played five games on the road in there first ten matchups, compared to only three at home, and have gone 1-4 in those games (the other two games were at neutral sites). They are certainly hoping an end of season slate that features seven home games will lead to more winning. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that will mean stepping up their play on both sides of the ball. They are currently 9th in the league in both points scored per game and points allowed per game, and are worst in the league in both field goal percentage and three point percentage. They are also ninth in the league in assists per game and average the most turnovers per game in the league. The Cardinals will certainly need Maeve Vitale ’18 to step up in a major way during conference play. The 5’8 guard is averaging 10.7 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting, while also draining 36.2 percent of her three pointers on more than five attempts per game. Vitale is also pulling down 5.6 rebounds and securing 1.9 steals per game, good for second and first on her team respectively. She’s all over the place for the Cardinals, but someone is going to need to step up and help her out if they want to climb the standings.

 

  1. Bates (3-8)

Bringing up the rear of our first power ranking on the Bates Bobcats who have stumbled early in the season to a 3-8 record. Unfortunately for Bates it is hard to focus on just one issue with this team. They are last in the NESCAC in both points scored per game and points and allowed. They also struggle with field goal percentage defense and their rebounding margin of 0.1 per game is the only NESCAC average less than 1. The only two meaningful statistical categories where Bates ranks in the top 8 of the league are assists per game where they rank eighth, and three point percentage where they rank sixth on the third most attempts. Bates also lacks depth, 6 players average more than 20 minutes per game and after than only one player averages more than 10 (Madeline Foote ’19, who averages 10.1). Allie Coppola ’17 has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the Bobcats, playing and starting all 11 games. She is also averaging 9.7 points per game, 9 rebounds per game, and 2.5 assists per game, good for second, first, and second on her team respectively. Things won’t get any easier for the Bobcats in the coming weeks as they play #17 Bowdoin and then travel to play Hamilton and Middlebury next weekend.