A Mammoth Shakeup: 2017-2018 Amherst Men’s Basketball Season Preview

Amherst College Mammoths

2016-2017 Record: 17-8, 7-3, lost to Williams in first round of NESCAC Tournament, earned NCAA Berth (lost to Keene State)

2017-2018 Projected Record: 18-6, 5-5

Key Losses:

G Jayde Dawson (19.1 PPG, 2.6 AST/G, 1.2 STL/G)

F Eric Conklin (8.3 PPG, 59% FG, 4.7 REB/G)

F David George (6.2 PPG, 6.6 REB/G, 2.2 BLK/G)


It’s hard to even write the phrase “Amherst might be down this year,” but it could be true. In an offseason marked by the graduation of one of the best senior classes in recent league history, Jayde Dawson’s loss looms very large. Dawson, for better or worse, carried Amherst last year, finishing second in the league in scoring and closing out several games with clutch shots. Of course, he also shot them out of some close games, to the chagrin of Mammoth fans. But Amherst has the perimeter scoring to replace Dawson. Johnny McCarthy has long looked ready to be a number one option, and Michael Riopel may be the best outside shooter in the league. The losses that will hurt the Mammoths more are in the frontcourt. Eric Conklin was an excellent post scorer who gave Amherst the opportunity to play inside-out with him and Riopel, and George, for all his offensive liabilities, anchored a solid defense. In a league in which two of the three pre-season top teams (Middlebury and Williams) have supersized lineups, losing your two best big men isn’t a great recipe for success.  Add in solid point guard Reid Berman and stretch four Jacob Nabatoff, and Amherst is faced with replacing four starters and a sixth man. Coach David Hixon (who is closing in  has been known for his ability to reload quickly, and Amherst again has one of the best recruiting classes in the conference, but this year will be a challenge even for him.

Projected Starters:

G Vic Sinopoli ’19 (1.2 PPG, 4.8 MIN/G, 3:1 A/TO)

Vic Sinopoli
Vic Sinopoli ’19 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

This spot is a huge question mark for Amherst. Last year, Reid Berman offered a steady hand at the position, but ball handling and creating duties were pretty much  handled by Dawson or McCarthy. As Amherst’s early exit in the playoffs showed, this is not a particularly sustainable method. Sinopoli played very few minutes as a sophomore last season, but runs the offense well and has the experience that Coach Hixon always prizes. However, first year Grant Robinson ’20 is chomping at the bit for this spot. Robinson offers a higher ceiling than Sinopoli. A speed demon with great court vision, he could take ball handling duties away from McCarthy and bring the Amherst offense to a more organic level than they reached last season. Their tournament this weekend will be a fascinating chance to see who impresses the most at the one.

G Michael Riopel ’18 (10.2 PPG, 47.4% 3FG, 0.8 STL/G)

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

There’s more on Riopel below in the Breakout Player section, but you can see from his stat line above what he brings to this team; shooting. Riopel is as consistent a shooter as there is in the league. But he is far from a one trick pony. At 6’5,” he can guard multiple positions, and rebounds very well (3.9 REB/G last season despite varying minutes.) Riopel is freed up this season, and a huge breakout is possible.

G/F Johnny McCarthy ’18 (14.2 PPG, 8.0 REB/G, 46% FG, 34% 3FG)

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

For much of his career, people have discussed McCarthy like he was the victim of some horrible tragedy. “Poor McCarthy, he’ll never get the touches he deserves playing next to Jayde Dawson.” This was a dumb take. Never mind that the defensive attention Dawson drew made much of McCarthy’s drives to the rim far more open than they will be this year, but McCarthy still got twelve shots and six threes per game. But nevertheless, this year McCarthy gets his chance to be a solo act. He should be aided by a starting role and more minutes for Riopel (more on him later,) whose outside shooting should keep driving lanes open. But McCarthy hasn’t shown himself to be a great passer yet in his career. He only averaged two assists against 1.8 turnovers last year. If Amherst hopes to have a more ball movement-centric offense this season without Dawson’s one-on-one skills, that will have to start with McCarthy, their best player and, finally, their go-to-guy.

F Eric Sellew ’20 (2.5 PPG, 9.3 MIN/G)

Eric Sellew
Eric Sellew ’20 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Sellew is another player who didn’t get many minutes last season due to Amherst’s short rotation. But with George and Conklin gone, Sellow is set to have his moment in the sun. A prototypical stretch four, Sellow has been working this off-season at stretching his range behind the arc, a prerequisite for this spot in Amherst’s perimeter-based offense. As a regular contributor last season, Sellew has a clear first crack at this starting spot, but he is not without competition. Junior Dylan Groff ’19 has made tremendous strides during training camp, and Fru Che, a first year, has impressed as well. Sellew has to be an offensive threat for the Mammoths to have enough firepower to keep up with Williams, Tufts and Middlebury.

C Joseph Schneider ’19 (2.1 PPG, 4.6 MIN/G)

Joseph Schneider
Joseph Schneider ’19 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Schneider is a fascinating player, and could be the key to Amherst making the jump from “fine” to “good” or even from “good” to “great.” At 6’10” and with a tremendous wingspan, Schneider is one of the biggest players in the league, and offers a nice centerpiece to what is a very long Amherst lineup. He got little to no playing time last year behind George, Conklin and Nabatoff, but projects as a key cog in the offense this season. He has good footwork and hands, and his size alone should make him something of a shot-blocking threat. Amherst has succeeded in the past with four perimeter players and a traditional center, so the lack of outside from shooting from him and backup CJ Bachman ’19 shouldn’t be too much of an issue. If Schneider can be a real threat the way Conklin was last year, Amherst could be in business.

Breakout Player: G Michael Riopel ’18 

As I mentioned above, Riopel is a deadeye shooter. But he won’t be able to rely the constant double teaming of McCarthy and Dawson this season. Of course, McCarthy will still demand a great deal of defensive attention, but teams will still make sure to leave a good defender on Riopel. If he is going to make a leap, it will have to be as a ball handler and driver. He showed signs of being able to that last season, shooting nearly 50% from two point land overall. But during league play, he made only one non-three pointer per game. He needs to at least develop a midrange pull-up game to contend with players running him off the three point line. And with his height, he has the potential to finish at the rim too. Amherst’s offense last season was often stagnant, with far too much one on one play. The loss of Dawson should improve that, but scoring will be a problem, and Riopel is crucial to solving it.

Michael Riopel ’18 will need to become more of an all around threat to make up for the loss of Dawson.

Everything Else:

I hesitate to use the term “rebuilding year” for the Mammoths. They still have McCarthy, one of the three or four most skilled players in the league, as well as Riopel. A better term might be “retooling.” Amherst is faced with the task of changing their entire style of play. Although much of the criticism of Jayde Dawson was alarmist, he did force the Mammoths to play a slower style of basketball than they would like. This season, the Mammoths look poised to play a ball movement-heavy, 3-and-D type of game that should at least be more fun to watch, and possibly more successful as well. Riopel and McCarthy are the key to this offense, but the retooling has occurred mostly in their supporting cast. Sellow and Groll are stretch fours whom Amherst will use mostly on the perimeter. And G Tommy Mobley ’20, after barely playing during his first year, will get serious minutes and three point looks.

This new, aggressive style should apply on defense as well. After relying largely on David George to make up for gambling on the perimeter, Amherst is now playing a switchier lineup, with a focus on the perimeter. Riopel and McCarthy have elite size and length for their position, as does Sinopoli. And of course, Schneider is one of the bigger players in the league. He will be a key. If he is a liability in the pick and roll, teams like Middlebury and Williams will be able to roast him with their skilled perimeter bigs. But if they play a smaller player, they will severely lack rim protection. There’s a chance that Amherst’s off-season losses hurt them on defense more than offense.

Amherst has retooled with Williams in mind, as every team in the league has had to do this off-season.

Amherst is one of the harder teams in the league to project. They lost an almost impossibly high percentage of their scoring and minutes in the off-season. For any other team, this would be a death sentence, and this preview would be about them looking towards 2018-2019. But this is Amherst we’re talking about. They always seem to find a way to be there at the end of the season. And, with a far more sustainable (and young) offense, Amherst is in a position to be there in the future as well.


Slay the Dragon: Amherst v. Trinity Preview


Both Amherst and Trinity come in to this matchup riding three game winning streaks.  Amherst most recently took down conference rival Williams in a non-conference matchup while Trinity took down non-conference opponent Vassar on the road.  Amherst holds a better record at 13-4 compared to the Bantam’s 13-6 mark.  Conference play has been a different story however, with Trinity 4-1 and Amherst 3-2 during NESCAC weekends.  The preseason #1, Amherst has been shaky in the new year.  Two conference losses had the Purple and White reeling until they posted (shaky) back to back wins over Bowdoin and Colby.  Trinity began conference play by squeaking out a two point W over Williams.  They then handled Conn College by double figures before jumping out to a 21PT halftime lead against Colby and beating Bowdoin by 18.  Given that both teams have played the same conference opponents, it is fair to say that Trinity has looked like the better team.  In the words of Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are.”  Given Amherst’s recent scoring woes and Trinity’s stifling defense (a ridiculous 57.8PTS/Game in the offense-happy NESCAC), this game should be a rather low-scoring affair.  Amherst has a chance to reclaim their spot among the NESCACs elite while Trinity can put to bed the claims that they are just beating up on the NESCAC cellar-dwellers.

Amherst’s X-Factor: Backup Point Guard-Reid Berman ’17

Reid Berman
Reid Berman ’17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
 Jayde Dawson ’18 and Jonny McCarthy ’18 have proven to be two consistent scorer’s for Amherst all year long.  In a potentially season-saving win over Bowdoin, Dawson carried the team with a game-high 27 and McCarthy clinched it with a buzzer beating three.  The problem has been finding consistent options outside of these two.  Enter Berman (RB12).  One of the surprises of the most recent Williams matchup was his season-high 12 points on an efficient 5-9 shooting.  A pass-first PG who has struggled shooting the ball thus far, Berman sometimes plays as if there only his teammates can see the basket.  A more aggressive Berman could give the second unit an additional scoring punch while also opening up other guys.  He does not need to be the scoring threat that Dawson is, but showing Trinity that he is willing to shoot it would spread the defense allowing more open looks for guys like Jeff Racy ’17, Jacob Nabatoff, ’17, and Michael Riopel ’18.

Trinity’s X-Factor: C Ed Ogundeko

Ed Ogundeko ’17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

People may say, “Hey, isn’t it kind of obvious that Trinity’s best player would be an important player in this game?  Do you think you are making some big statement? Who let’s you write for this site anyway?”  All great questions.  Yes, to beat good teams, your best players need to play well.  Yes, someone else will need to step up.  But when it comes to beating a perennial NESCAC powerhouse in their own building, where they haven’t lost in over 2 years, your star has to be even that much better.  Ogundeko has the ability to impose his will on a game averaging 17 PTS and just under 11 boards a game.  In fact, the last team to come out of LeFrak with a W included a second-year Ogundeko who had 9 PTS and 16 rebounds in the game.  The outcome of this game will depend largely on Trinity’s star big man.  As Ogundeko goes, so will the other Bantams.

Three Questions:

Can Amherst get the deep ball going again?

Since the old calendars were thrown out and were replaced with the 2017 version, Amherst has shot just 30% from beyond the arc.  While this has not deterred them from continuing to take

Trinity’s interior defense is stifling, so Amherst will need to hit from the outside to open up driving lanes.

them (only Colby shoots more per game), it has lowered their offensive output.  They have plenty of capable shooters, but have been able to consistently knock down shots.  Sometimes the pause between first and second semester can break up a team’s rhythm and I think this is part of the Purple and White’s struggles.  A return to the monotony of classes, practice, sleep may allow for Amherst to play a little looser and return to early season form.  The team is due for a barrage from the outside.  Look out for this, especially if the first few shots start falling.  As the old saying goes, “sometimes shooters just need to see one go in the net.”

Who else scores for Trinity?

Coming off his lowest scoring output since Dec. 10th, expect Ed Ogundeko to get his.  As previously mentioned however, somebody else will have to score for the offensively challenged Bantams.  Senior F Chris Turnbull ’17 is the second leading scorer on the team at over 11PPG and offers one option.  However, he has been inconsistent of late.  In his last 5 games, Turnbull has scored 0, 13, 13, 3, and 17 points respectively.  He shoots it at almost 46% from range so Amherst will look to chase him off the 3PT line. Senior Jeremy Arthur and Junior Eric Gendron both average around 9PTS a game and will need to keep this up on Saturday.  Also, look out for Freshman Christian Porydzy, who has seen very limited action but is shooting an impressive 67% from 3PT land and in a game like this, one or two big threes can be the difference.

Who Rebounds the Basketball?

It may seem mundane, but rebounds are the beginning of a possession and in a game where scoring may be at a premium, every possession will be key.  Trinity leads the NESCAC in rebounding margin at over 5 a game while Amherst has been slightly out rebounded by opponents with a margin of -0.6 a game.  In Amherst’s last loss at home, 3 of Ogundeko’s 16 rebounds came on the offensive end.  Offensive rebounds often lead to outback layups and are demoralizing for the defensive unit.  Amherst will look to seasoned veteran David George ’17 to keep Ogundeko off the boards.  Amherst relies heavily on momentum and needs to control the glass.  Trinity will look to exploit this and create extra possessions to supplement their initial offense.  The Battle of the Boards may very well determine the victor.


Trinity’s defense poses a bad matchup for the suddenly struggling Amherst offense.  At 4-1, the Bantams have proven themselves in the league and are the last team to leave Amherst with a win.  That being said, Amherst is primed for a breakout game.  Although Amherst has looked sluggish for the past couple weeks, this team does know how to win big games (see: Babson).  As a team that has been together and seen it all, it sometimes takes a little extra to get them buzzing.  With the students back on campus, expect LeFrak to be rocking for this one.  Amherst’s offense is a little too much for the Bantams to keep up and the Purple and White take this one 77-71.

Writer’s Pick: Amherst

Coming Back for More: Amherst College Hoops Preview

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

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

Projected Record: 8-2

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

The only player not returning this year for Amherst is Connor Green ’16. A pure scorer, Green led the Purple and White with 15 PPG. But, as with any volume shooter, there are days where shots are not falling and it can throw the offense out of rhythm. Expect a more balanced scoring distribution this year as virtually anyone Amherst throws out there can score the rock. Defensively, the team is anchored by senior, two-time captain, David George ’17. George is arguably the best rim protector in the NESCAC and continues to polish his offensive game. Sharpshooter Jeff Racy returns along with junior Swiss Army knives Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and Michael Riopel ‘18. Jayde Dawson ’18 is also back with Reid Berman ’17 to split minutes at the point. The depth and talent on this team makes a NESCAC championship and another deep NCAA tournament run strong possibilities. D3Hoops.com reinforced this notion by ranking Amherst the preseason #1.

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

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

Returning Starters:

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

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

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

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

Projected Starting Lineup

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


Guard Jayde Dawson ‘18

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

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

Guard Jeff Racy ‘17

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

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


Small forward Johnny McCarthy ‘18

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

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

Forward Jacob Nabatoff ’17

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

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

Forward David George ’17

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

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

Breakout Player: Guard Michael Riopel ’18

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

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

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

Everything Else:

Past performance is not always an indicator of future success, but last year’s tournament run has expectations for this year’s team running high. The team loses only one player from their rotation that ran up to 9 players deep a year ago, and as a result, they received the #1 ranking on d3hoops.com.  While the team will certainly miss the presence of Connor Green ’16, the offense may find more continuity now that they don’t necessarily have a pure scorer.  In talking with Coach Hixon, some of the challenges this year’s team will face are an expanded roster and contentedness.  The positives however, greatly outweigh the negatives.  I think that even though the team made the NESCAC final and Final Four there is still a sour taste left in their mouths from not bringing home any championships.  Coach Hixon also lauded the leadership on this team both by the seniors and the younger guys as well.  One element about having an expanded roster that can be a bonus is the ability to have competitive practices.  When guys push each other in practice, it makes it that much easier come gametime.

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

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

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



Familiar Territory: No. 16 Amherst Semifinal Preview with No. 2 Benedictine University

Amherst seniors Connor Green '16, Ray Barry '16 and Ben Pollack '16 celebrate their third Sectional title of their careers. (Courtesy of Alonso Nichols/Tufts Photos)
Amherst seniors Connor Green ’16, Ray Barry ’16 and Ben Pollack ’16 celebrate the third Sectional title of their careers. (Courtesy of Alonso Nichols/Tufts Photos)

Game Information: #16 Amherst vs. #2 Benedictine, 5 PM, Salem, VA

Video     Live Stats

New year, new nickname, different roster, same result.

Amherst is back in the Final Four for the third time in just four seasons after a one year hiatus and looking to claim the program’s third national title. More than their previous two trips, this year’s journey to the Final Four was considered a long shot. In 2014 the Purple & White entered the tournament ranked No. 7 at 24-3, and in 2013, when they won the whole shabang, they were 25-2 and ranked second in the country. This year, Amherst ranked No. 16 coming into the tournament, and squeaked through the first weekend with two wins by a total of three points. Then, Amherst controlled the game against Babson in the Sweet 16, but the contest with Tufts was knotted up with under four minutes to play before Amherst finished on a 13-0 run.

No matter how it happened, Amherst is here now with a chance at the title. But, they have to take on, arguably, the best team in the country in undefeated Benedictine University.

It’s hard to find a weakness in the Eagles’ game as they play in their first Final Four. They are lead by two juniors, both from Naperville, Illinois, just a 10 minute ride from the Benedictine campus. Luke Johnson ’17 is an elite talent for the D-III level. He’s taken a circuitous route to get here – playing at two other schools and spending some time earlier in his career at Benedictine, too – but he certainly appears comfortable at last. The 6’9″, 235 lbs center averages 14.5 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.2 apg and, here’s the whopper, 3.0 bpg. That’s Tom Palleschi status. Johnson was named the All-Central Region Co-Player of the Year by D3Hooops.com. His fellow Napervillian, Michael “Blasé” Blaszczyk ’17 (I just came up with that nickname), leads the team with 14.6 ppg and contributes across the board with 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg and 0.7 bpg. Blaszczyk also brings size to the table at 6’3″, 190 lbs, and has ratched it up in the tournament, scoring 63 points over four games to lead his team. The third key Eagle to watch out for is PG Tahron Harvey ’17. Harvey is a D3Hoops.com All-Central Third Teamer averaging 13.5 ppg, 5.0 apg and 2.2 spg.

The key for Benedictine is that they have shooters all over the floor. Their rotation runs nine deep, and everyone but bruising sixth man Tim Reamer ’16 (6’5″ 240 lbs) can knock down the triple. (Reamer, by the way, was awarded the Elite 90 Award as the athlete at the Final Four with the highest cumulative GPA.) Seven of those nine shoot over 30 percent from deep, including Johnson, which presents a match up nightmare for Amherst. The Eagles will look to feed the big man on the block and let him distribute to their shooters. Furthermore, Benedictine is tenacious on the boards, outrebounding their opponents by 14.7 boards per game. Johnson is a big reason for that, but everyone in the lineup can get after the boards.

Amherst X-factor: Close Out Defense

I’m not going with one player here, but rather a philosophy. And, it’s a philosophy that Amherst has employed quite well so far this season. Amherst has the best three-point percentage defense in the country, and it’s not just because they present great length. To allow only 27.7 percent of opponents’ three pointers to drop, you have to be very good at closing out. I expect Head Coach Dave Hixon to instruct his players to double down on Johnson when he gets the ball in the post, which means it will be even more difficult for Amherst to close out on shooters. If they leave the Eagles’ shooters open it’s going to be a long day for Amherst, but if they can force Benedictine to try to make tough shots in traffic against the size that Amherst’s starting five provides, that could be a recipe for success.

Benedictine X-factor: C Luke Johnson

Johnson is obviously a great all-around player, but he’s an X-factor in this one not because of his scoring, but his propensity to rebound. Amherst has a pretty mediocre rebounding team, grabbing just 3.2 more rebounds per game than their opponents. Recall that Benedictine averages +14.7 boards per game. They also have a great defensive unit. Eagles’ opponents only score at a 37.8 percent clip from the field. That means buckets will be hard to come by for Amherst, and there won’t be many second chances with Johnson cleaning up the boards.

What to Expect:

It’s always so difficult to project NESCAC teams against out-of-region squads. From what I’ve seen over the past four years, the NESCAC is easily the best conference east of Wisconsin. They top-to-bottom quality of teams just can’t be beat, and I think you can look at the number of NESCAC teams that get into the NCAA Tournament, their success, and the success of even mid-tier and lower-tier NESCAC teams against high-quality out-of-conference opponents as proof of that statement. Therefore, and not because of favoritism, I often lean towards NESCAC squads. Even Benedictine can be questioned for the quality of their opponents. Their strength of schedule as of the last NCAA Regional Rankings, which come out before conference tournament play, was an average 0.524. Amherst had a .558 SOS at that time. Since then, however, Benedictine has beaten #10 Ohio Wesleyan and #13 Alma in the NCAA Tournament, so they’ve proven their mettle, and you don’t go 30-0 without having one heck of a roster.

On the Amherst side, the biggest question for me is always the point guard play. Jayde Dawson ’18 is great at times, and at other times gets pulled for Reid Berman ’17, who’s a very good player but has completely gone one-dimensional this year offensively, scoring just 2.1 ppg. One or the other will have to have a big game distributing, because with Benedictine’s defense the worst case scenario for Amherst is that they lose their offensive flow and start trying to go one-on-one on every possession. At the five spot, David George ’17 will see big minutes while trying to defend Johnson, which means less minutes for Eric Conklin ’17, George’s offensive counterpart. If Coach Hixon has to go with a lineup of Berman, Connor Green ’16, Johnny McCarthy ’18, Jeff Racy ’17 and George for extended stretches then they lose some significant offensive punch.

Whoever sees big minutes at the point for Amherst, though, expect this game to be played in the high 70’s and possibly 80’s. Amherst can score in bunches with the best of them, and the Eagles have tallied an outrageous 88.1 ppg this season. With two great, tough defenses though, don’t expect those points to come easy. We might have a uniquely fast-paced game on our hands with lots of misses, few offensive boards, and quick transitions.

As well as I believe the NESCAC prepares its teams for postseason play, I don’t see a chink in the Benedictine armor. The last game they won by less than nine points came on December 30. That’s almost three months ago. Amherst will have to play a perfect game in order to win. I don’t think they can pull it off. They may come close, and a hot night from Racy and Green beyond the arc could push the Purple & White over the top, but Benedictine has the lengthy defenders to stop that and I don’t see it happening.

Prediction: Benedictine 85 – Amherst 80

Appreciating the Bantams: Stock Report 2/9

Trinity's Ed Ogundeko '17 broke Bates' backboard on Saturday. Yes, that is awesome. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Trinity’s Ed Ogundeko ’17 broke Bates’ backboard on Saturday. That is awesome. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

The best team in the NESCAC over the past two seasons has been the Trinity College Bantams. That is really beyond debate too. Since the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Trinity has gone 16-2 in NESCAC games. The second best record in that time is Amherst with a 12-6 mark. Trinity went further than any other NESCAC team in the NCAA tournament last season, coming within seconds of the Final Four.

These are all things you know, but I feel like the run by the Bantams is still an under-appreciated one; around here, at least, we continue to underestimate this team. We picked them to lose against Tufts on Friday night, and the Bantams have rarely topped our Power Rankings this year.

Trinity is also under-appreciated on a national scale. All of last year Trinity went unranked in the D3Hoops.com Top 25. Only when they made it to Elite Eight did they enter the Final Rankings. Even then, they were ranked just 17th. The Bantams are still not ranked in the Top 25 this season. Amherst, Tufts, and Wesleyan are ranked in the Top 25 this week. Trinity has beaten two of those teams, and is the only team to be above .500 against the other Top 4 NESCAC teams.

I get why the Bantams aren’t ranked: they lose games in the non-conference schedule that they really shouldn’t. This season they have lost five non-conference games, a high number for a supposedly elite team. However, what that analysis misses is that Coach Jim Cosgrove approaches those games as opportunities to get his more inexperienced players valuable playing time.

All that brings me to Friday night when Trinity had their way with Tufts down the stretch. The Jumbos made a second half run to tie the game back up at 58 apiece with exactly 10:00 left on the clock. Over the next four minutes, Cosgrove went unconventional, subbing out four of his starters in favor of bench players. Stalwarts Ed Ogundeko ’17 (playing at less than 100%), Andrew Hurd ’16, and Jaquann Starks ’16 headed to the bench for the likes of Erick Santana ’19 and Langdon Neal ’17.

A lineup with four bench players proceeded to soundly outplay the Jumbos over the next five minutes. With 4:29 left, the game had transformed from a tossup into one essentially over with the score 76-63 in favor of Trinity. The four bench players accounted for 13 of the 18 points scored in this stretch.

I want to pause here and say that Eric Gendron ’18 is a very very good scorer. He has a very good first step to get past his defender, and he has the size to finish at the rim. Not to mention that he can shoot the ball not just on wide open threes but in difficult, off-balance situations. He was the one that really fueled the 18-5 run with nine points all by himself. On a lot of teams Gendron would have a larger role, but he is biding his time while veterans like Ajayi and Ogundeko take center stage.

So to recap, on the road, with home court advantage throughout the NESCAC playoffs still on the table, with the score tied, Cosgrove went with a lineup with just one starter on the court. Rest assured, it was a gamble, one that no other coach in the NESCAC would make. If it didn’t work, I could very easily be writing about how Cosgrove’s refusal to play his core players more minutes is a fatal flaw in this team. But it did work in large part because of how much time Cosgrove has given for those players to develop this season.

Cosgrove is a fiery personality, and he certainly isn’t for everyone. On Saturday, his coaching philosophy was validated in a big way. After Amherst’s loss to Tufts, the Bantams have the inside track on getting the top overall seed.

Stock Up

Forward Shay Ajayi ’16 (Trinity)

It was Tom Palleschi ’17 that won NESCAC Player of the Week Honors this week, but Ajayi impressed me the most this weekend. With Ogundeko unable to start and able to play just 14 minutes because of an injury against Tufts, Ajayi stepped up in a huge way. On one end he was tasked with guarding Palleschi in the post, and on the other he was the main inside presence on offense. Palleschi got his with 25 points, but Ajayi still played alright defense on him and did a great job of keeping the Jumbo off the boards, allowing Palleschi to get just one offensive rebound. Meanwhile, Ajayi was exceptional with 26 points and 16 rebounds. He was the one starter who stayed on the floor during that critical run because of how important he was in that game. As evidenced from him having just eight points the next day against Bates, Ajayi is inconsistent. Still, he was stellar when his team needed him most.

Small Forward Dan Aronowitz ’17 (Williams)

The Ephs found themselves down by eight at halftime to Conn College, and it took a Herculean second half from Aronowitz to bring them to victory. He scored 25 of Williams’ 45 points in the half, including six of the Ephs’ final eight as Williams came back in the final minute to get the much needed victory. The junior plays within the system for Williams, but there is no doubt that the team leader in points and rebounds is the leader of this team. In the same way that Dan Wohl ’15 and Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 stepped up last season, Aronowitz has been fantastic this season. The Ephs are probably locked into the sixth seed, and the win against Conn College was a big one.

Stock Down

Hamilton’s Finish

Hamilton played their best game all season on Saturday beating Bowdoin handily 86-71. Ajani Santos ’16 enjoyed his best game of the season by far scoring 25 points. That win got them to 2-6 in the NESCAC. On Sunday, the Continentals led by eight at halftime against Colby, and it looked like Jack Dwyer ’18 had clinched things for Hamilton when he hit a jumper with 15 seconds left to make the score 79-75 for Hamilton. However, Chris Hudnut ’16 hit a three to make a one point game, and right at the buzzer Ryan Jann ’16 was fouled on a three pointer. He made two of the three free throws to send the game to overtime, and the veteran Mules finished things out from there. The loss keeps Hamilton at 2-6, keeping them from getting that critical third win. Now Hamilton has to win on the road at either Trinity or Amherst to have a chance at the playoffs. That won’t be easy.

Bowdoin Rebounding

Bowdoin didn’t show up in the first game this week against Hamilton, and that made their game vs. Middlebury all the more important. The Polar Bears managed to come back from a 13 point deficit, but their inability to pull in rebounds down the stretch killed them. Middlebury scored seven straight points down the stretch after getting offensive rebounds. The crucial play came with 2:45 left in the game and the score 67-67: a mad scramble for the rebound off a missed Zach Baines ’19 layup ended with Jack Daly ’18 getting the ball in the corner and finding a wide open Matt St. Amour ’17 who buried the shot. We have been saying all season that the Polar Bears miss John Swords ’15 on the interior, and there is no doubt that he would have helped against Middlebury as Bowdoin lost the rebounding battle 45-31.

Amherst Bench

For a team with as talented a roster as the Purple and White, Amherst has become over the course of the season heavily reliant on their starting five. The rotation still goes nine players deep, but Jacob Nabatoff ’17 and Reid Berman ’17 (two starters for much of last year) have become near non-threats with the ball, averaging a combined 4.0 PPG in NESCAC games. Eric Conklin ’17 is as steady as it gets as a backup big man giving about eight points per game, and Michael Riopel ’18 does a ton of things well besides score the ball. Still, this isn’t the monstrous rotation that people expected to wear teams out. We have seen Coach Dave Hixon have very short rotations in the past, and he won a National Championship playing basically six players. For whatever reason, a somewhat similar scenario is playing out this year, despite all of the talent on this team. Amherst got soundly beat on Saturday, and it was disappointing to see them have no extra spark in the second half, unlike the Bantams do.

No Easy Games in the NESCAC: Weekend Preview 1/15/16

Another weekend of NESCAC basketball is ready to fascinate minds around the world. (Courtesy of Bates College)
Another weekend of NESCAC basketball is ready to fascinate minds around the world. (Courtesy of Bates College)

I’m a young pup of  22 years old, and I didn’t have the slightest idea about NESCAC basketball until just a few years ago. However, I think that the league is as good from top to bottom as it has ever been. When you have the defending champions Wesleyan (who as we know brought everyone on the roster back) nearly go 0-2 in the first weekend against two teams that missed the NESCAC tournament last year, the depth of the league is clear. That depth means that teams can’t dig themselves too big of a hole if they want to make the NESCAC tournament. The three 0-2 teams (Williams, Colby, and Hamilton) all have to face big challenges this weekend.

Three to Watch

  1. Center Chris Hudnut ’16 (Colby): It’s hard to believe, but both Williams and Colby are winless coming into tonight making this almost a must win for both teams. Colby had the more disappointing weekend seeing their 10 game winning streak go up in smoke on the road. To get back on track, the Mules need to have their man in the middle carry the load. Hudnut was a total non-factor last weekend scoring just 4.5 PPG in the two losses. He didn’t even score in the first half of the game against Bates. Hudnut has had some big games this year, but against the Mules’ top opponents he has had subpar performances. He has to play better against Williams, a team that, even with Ed Flynn ’16 playing better, is weak defensively inside. Hudnut was missing shots he normally makes last weekend. I’m guessing he makes more of those tonight.
  2. Center Ed Ogundeko ’17 (Trinity): Few players looked as impressive as Ogundeko did last weekend. The junior carried the Bantams with 21 points on 9-13 shooting and 11 rebounds. Most impressive was the control that Ogundeko played with (something his teammate Shay Ajayi ’16 could take notes on). The broad-shouldered big man used his positioning to get good looks down low that he finished with good touch. What proved that he was really locked in was the two jumpshots from the top of the key that he knocked down no problem. Tonight, the Bantams face Conn College in a game that will be a great measuring stick for the Camels. Saturday, Trinity faces Wesleyan who bounced the Bantams from the NESCAC tournament last year. Ogundeko, averaging 14.3 PPG and 11.7 RPG, needs to keep getting double-doubles this weekend.
  3. Guard Jack Mackey ’16 (Wesleyan): BJ Davis ’16 has risen to leading man status for the Cardinals, but he can’t do it alone obviously. Mackey has had a really slow start to the year because of injury problems. Last weekend Mackey had two of his better games scoring the ball averaging 14.0 PPG, but it did take him 14 shots in both games to do that. Almost everything for Mackey is coming on the perimeter which is why he is shooting 0.6 free throws per game, an awfully low number for a point guard. His rebounding numbers are also down from a year ago. The guard is one of the toughest players in the NESCAC, and that tenacity is a huge source of the edge that Wesleyan plays with. Now he needs to get back to playing as well as he is capable of.

Biggest Game: Wesleyan (12-2, 1-1) at Amherst (11-1, 1-0). Tonight at 7:00 PM

Guys, I’m a little bit worried about Wesleyan. I was expecting after their loss to Middlebury last Friday to come out firing against Hamilton, but they barely eeked out an overtime victory. Now they have to go on the road to Amherst and Trinity, the hardest possible weekend the NESCAC can offer. Let’s not forget that before they got really hot at the end of the year and won the NESCAC tournament, Wesleyan was a 3-5 team heading into the final weekend last season. And yes, they ran through non-conference play, but they didn’t have any great wins in that stretch.

What was concerning about last weekend was the lack of defense and the inability to dictate the pace, especially against Middlebury. The Cardinals are built to win games played in the high 50s with Davis making the big shots at the end of games. A team with so many seniors should not have to worry about a team as young as Middlebury imposing their style on a game, but that is exactly what happened last Friday. Nate Krill ’18 who was injured all of last year, has been a great addition as the backup big man, and the depth for the Cardinals is better than it was a year ago. The problem is that makes it harder for Coach Mike Reilly to find the right combination of players any given night.

On the other side, Amherst is sure to be out for revenge for last year’s championship loss. This team is playing better than it was last year, and with all the talent they have it is always going to feel like they have another gear to reach. I just don’t know if we will ever see that gear be reached for any significant length of time. The pieces don’t all fit together quite right for them. They might lead the league as a team in assists, but aside from backup point guard Reid Berman ’17, everybody on the roster is more comfortable looking for their own shot than finding a teammate.

For a team as talented as Amherst is, they are weirdly reliant on the three pointer. They have made more as a team than anybody else in the NESCAC, even though they have played less games than everyone else. Jeff Racy ’17 is a dead-eye assassin, but both Connor Green ’16 and Johnny McCarthy ’18 are streaky shooters.  Wesleyan is hoping that they can force a reprisal of the championship game when Racy, Green, and McCarthy combined to shoot 3-20 from deep. The likelihood of that is not good, and I think that Amherst rolls in this one.

Upset Alert: Tufts (11-2, 2-0) at Hamilton (7-6, 0-2). Saturday at 3:00 PM

After the perfect storm of a weekend that the Jumbos had to open the season, they almost feel primed for a letdown. You might have thought I would pick Middlebury to upset Tufts, given how the Panthers already pulled a fast one on Wesleyan. But the Jumbos are going to be ready for that one tonight. Yet, after the game tonight, Tufts will have to drive a few hours through sleepy upstate New York to get to Hamilton for their game tomorrow. The gym at Hamilton is notorious for having subpar crowds, so it’s going to be sleepy there too.

Throw in the possibility of Hamilton getting hot from deep, and suddenly the possibility of an upset starts to crystallize. What if Ajani Santos ’16 shows up like he did against Conn College and puts Tom Palleschi ’17 into foul trouble? What if the Jumbos simply aren’t as good on the road as they are in Medford? Odds are that Vincent Pace ’18, Tarik Smith ’17, and Stephen Haladyna ’16 are too much on the perimeter for the Continentals to handle. I’m just saying that this is the NESCAC where (almost) anything is possible.

You can get our predictions on every game tonight over on Twitter.


The Rich Get Richer: Amherst Season Preview

Connor Green '16 is the key to Amherst's season. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Connor Green ’16 is the key to Amherst’s season. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

I was considering just copying and pasting last year’s preview since Amherst’s roster is pretty much identical to last season’s, but I decided they deserved a write-up. Seriously though, Amherst lost nothing. They only graduated one senior and the main rotation is completely intact. This is one of the situations where Amherst’s biggest strength is also its weakness – depth. The coaches don’t anticipate many players (if any) playing 32-35 minutes, but rather most will play 18-24 minutes. It can be tough on a player’s psyche if he’s not allowed to get into a rhythm. It’s critical that the squad gets used to playing as a team and not as individuals if they want to be successful this year.

The returning Lord Jeffs had the opportunity to travel to Italy as a team this summer, giving them a chance to gel together and get a head start on learning how to play with such depth. Amherst won’t be the quickest team in the league, but they have an experienced, mature group, and their basketball IQ will carry them throughout the season.

2014-15 Record:

21-8 overall; 6-4 NESCAC (t-5th); lost NESCAC Final to Wesleyan 74-70; Lost Second Round of NCAA Tournament to St. John Fisher, 87-70


Coach: Dave Hixon, 38th year, 741-265 (.737)

Starters returning: Five

PG Reid Berman ’17 (4.5 ppg, 5.4 apg, 2.9 A/TO, 47.9% FG)
G/F Connor Green ’16 (16.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 37.3% 3PT)
G/F Johnny McCarthy ’18 (11.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.9 bpg)
F Jacob Nabatoff ’17 (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 38.2% 3PT)
F David George ’17 (10.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg)

The entire rotation is back, and that includes alternate point man Jayde Dawson ’18. Dawson began the year as the Jeffs’ point man, but halfway through the season he and Berman switched roles, and both men played better basketball. Dawson came down from D-I Fairleigh-Dickinson, but it looked like he was pressing too much last season. He has the physical ability to be one of the league’s best guards. He just might have to do so off of the bench this season, unless he can wrestle the starting gig back from Berman…

Projected Starting Five:

PG Jayde Dawson

Point guard was the toughest position to predict, because Jayde Dawson is so evenly matched with fellow point guard Reid Berman. At the end of the day, however, I feel that Dawson’s physical attributes are more enticing out of a starting point guard (Dawson is 6’2” 190 lbs. while Berman is 6’0” 175 lbs). However, this year the coaches are stressing the fact that their starting lineup doesn’t really matter. Berman and Dawson will get their minutes determined by how each is playing. Where Dawson needs to improve this year is his focus on taking care of the ball; he averaged 1.8 turnovers per game last year and just 2.0 apg. I don’t doubt that these numbers will improve in Dawson’s second year at Amherst. As one of the very few exceptionally quick players on Amherst, Dawson’s athleticism will allow him to play at a high level against teams that are more athletic than Amherst overall.

SG Johnny McCarthy

Reigning NESCAC ROY Johnny McCarthy now has some experience under his belt, and he will lead this team from the shooting guard position this season. McCarthy asserted himself as the defensive MVP of this Lord Jeffs squad last year, guarding the best player on every team last year (as long as he was under about 6’6”), and his team leading 32.2 mpg forced him to get all the freshman year jitters out early. It’s hard to say anything bad about this kid – he was second in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and assist/turnover ratio last year, while leading the team in steals per game – AS A FRESHMAN. McCarthy will definitely be in the running for All-NESCAC honors this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the talks for Player of the Year when the end of the season nears.

SF Connor Green

If you’re not familiar with the name Connor Green at this point, you probably haven’t watched an Amherst College basketball game in the last three years. Green has been the center point of this squad’s offense for a couple years now, leading the Lord Jeffs in scoring last year, and taking a back seat only to D-III POY Aaron Toomey ’14 the year before. What makes Green so difficult to guard is a combination of two factors: his lightning fast release and his willingness to shoot from anywhere on the court. No matter what the situation, Green isn’t afraid to shoot, and his quick trigger often allows him to get shots off before the defense is ready to contest his shot. Defenses are aware of this, but they have trouble stopping it because of how well he gets to the hoop. He’s a matchup nightmare because he also has the ability to back down smaller defenders. There is a huge elephant in the room, though – his frighteningly cold play down the stretch last season. Between the NESCAC Semis and the Second Round of the NCAAs, Green shot 13-54 (24.1%) over four games, a shocking departure from the guy who lit up Middlebury and Tufts the two games before that for 29 points a piece. This team needs Green playing well to succeed. Hopefully the senior is back on track, and if he is, Green should lead Amherst in scoring again.


F Jacob Nabatoff

Jacob Nabatoff is an interesting player because he doesn’t light up any statistical category in particular; he’s just pretty solid across the board. At 6’8”, 215 lbs, Nabatoff is a big body that requires a lot of attention from opposing players on the boards. Though he was just fourth on the team with 4.7 rpg, his aggressiveness and toughness down low opened up rebounding opportunities for smaller players like Green and McCarthy, and those boards came in just 20.8 mpg. I don’t expect Nabatoff to have a very different year than last season, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – he’s a smart player that seems to understand his role, and if he continues to stay within himself and buy into the team concept, his time on the floor will be very significant.

F David George

David George is one of those guys who doesn’t need plays drawn up for him. He’s active on the boards and on defense, and just makes plays happen. Though McCarthy is the best one-on-one defender on the Amherst roster, George is truly the anchor of this defense because of his shot blocking ability. George’s knack for protecting the rim allows his teammates to play more aggressively both on and off the ball since they know that he has their back if they get beat. I expect a similar year offensively for George, but defensively I expect him to take off.

Breakout Player:

 G Jeff Racy ’17 (10.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 42.3% 3PT)

Jeff Racy didn’t start a game last year for the Lord Jeffs, but he still averaged the fourth most minutes and points on the team. Racy is listed as a guard, but his 6’5” 210 lbs. frame makes him a swing man. His game is shooting the three, bottom line. The Amherst coaches are excited about how Racy has improved his jumper over the offseason, and his ability to shoot consistently from the arc pays huge dividends for this offense.

Everything else:

The other important pieces for Amherst this year are Eric Conklin ’17 and Michael Riopel ’18 (in no particular order). Conklin, who transferred to Amherst from Arizona last year, is maybe a bit undersized in height, but makes up for that with his physique. At 6’6”, 235 lbs., Conklin will be the primary backup for George down low, and will be expected to both bring energy to the boards and bang around in the post. Plagued by injury on and off last year, Conklin struggled to get into a rhythm, which is why his minutes weren’t quite as high as we expected them to be, but those numbers should increase this season. Conklin finally realized that D-I potential towards the end of the season, going off for 37 points on 18-20 (90%) shooting in the NESCAC Final and NCAA First Round game. Finally, Michael Riopel is a player to watch off the bench this year. It’s scary to think that this kid is somewhere between eight and 10 off the bench, but that’s just a testament to how deep this Amherst roster really is. Last year Riopel measures in at 6’5” 200 lbs., and the coaches say he has made big gains in the weight room during the offseason, and his improved strength and size will surely increase his effectiveness. Finally, don’t sleep on 6’10” first-year center Joe Schneider ’19 either. At that height, Schneider will immediately become the tallest center in the league.

With the amount of outside shooting Amherst has this year between Green, McCarthy, and Racy driving lanes should open up for Berman, Dawson and Riopel. The main thing to watch out for in Amherst this year will be their ability to play together. With so many weapons, it is certainly conceivable that they could struggle with finding the right mix, but the coaches are insistent that the players are buying into the team attitude, and if that’s true, this squad has as good a shot as any to win the league title.

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

Though it doesn’t get the publicity that the D-I tournament does, the D-III hoops tourney is even more chaotic and wide-open than what is commonly called March Madness. The first two rounds of the tournament are played on back-to-back days. Keeping track of all the action is borderline impossible, but somehow the miracle workers at D3Hoops.com do it.

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

Stock Up

Shooting Guard Mike Boornazian ’16 (Bates)

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

Trinity Defense

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

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

Point Guard Andrew Hurd ’16 (Trinity)

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

NESCAC Overall

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

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

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

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

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


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


NCAA First Round Preview: Amherst College vs. The Sage Colleges

Game Information: Amherst (20-7) vs. Sage (23-4)

Friday, March 6, 5:30 PM

Manning and Napier Varsity Gym at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY

Live Stats  Video

If you were wondering, “What is Sage?”, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, the Sage Colleges basketball program is in just its sixth season and has never made the NCAA Tournament before. The conference from which Sage hails, the Skyline Conference, is in its 25th season of operation. Compare those credentials to Amherst, which has been to back-to-back Final Fours, won two national championships, travelled to 17 NCAA Tournaments and compiled a .679 (36-16) winning percentage in the tournament, and you might think that Sage doesn’t have any place on the court in this game. But don’t expect Sage to be timid in this one. Last year’s Skyline Conference champion, SUNY-Purchase, won its NCAA opening round game. And like many teams in the NCAA field, Sage needed to win its conference tournament to get into the big dance, so the Sage Gators are riding high.

The Sage players are following Coach Barnes’ example of shooting for greatness. As Skyline Conference Player of the Year Kai Deans ’15 said, “Coach told us from the get-go, nothing less than a championship is what we’re trying to achieve.”

Kai Deans '15 will present a unique challenge for Amherst's David George '17. But the opposite applies as well. (Courtesy of The Sage Colleges)
Kai Deans ’15 will present a unique challenge for Amherst’s David George ’17. But the opposite applies as well. (Courtesy of The Sage Colleges)

In a way, both head coaches are synonymous with their programs. David Hixon, an Amherst alum, has an unmatched pedigree, and in his previous 37 years at the helm twice won the National Association of Basketball Coaches National Coach of the Year Award. On the flip side, Brian Barnes has been the head coach of the Gators since the program’s inception in 2009-10, when the team went an abysmal 5-18. Now both coaches are on even footing as they get set to clash in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Three Storylines to Watch

1. Which version of the D-I transfers shows up for Amherst?

Okay, a bit of a double dip here (see our Amherst X-Factors below), but there’s really no telling what kind of performance the Jeffs are going to get from Jayde Dawson ’18 and Eric Conklin ’17. Without those two, the only real scoring threats are All-NESCAC First Teamer Connor Green ’16 and NESCAC ROY Johnny McCarthy ’18, followed by the inconsistency of David George ’17 and sharpshooter Jeff Racy ’17. With Dawson and Conklin in the mix, Dave Hixon can put five players on the floor who can all do damage offensively. And on defense, Dawson creates more havoc than Berman, while another big body down low could be critical in slowing down Deans and forward Melvin Ford ’15.

2. How legit is Sage’s defense?

The Sage Colleges led all of D-III in field goal percentage defense, but in reality they played one of the weakest schedules in the country (.455 SOS as of February 25), and the Skyline Conference didn’t feature a lot of great three-point shooting teams. Expect the Gators’ post presence to be strong. Center Jacob Sopchak ’15 plays just 14.7 minutes per game yet blocks 2.1 shots per contest. But if Amherst can make some three point shots early they could open up a gap for good. Six-four swingman Travis Gill ’16 might be tasked with shutting down Green. Gill was honored as the Skyline Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Green’s main advantage over the Brooklyn native, as usual, will be his size. Gill checks in at 180 lbs. while Green is comfortably over two bills.

3. The head coaching matchup

We mentioned it briefly in the intro, but David Hixon and Brian Barnes are basically on opposite ends of the head coaching spectrum. Hixon has the accolades, Barnes has the hunger. And yet, some criticized Hixon in Amherst’s NESCAC Championship game loss to Wesleyan, especially the decision to keep Green on the bench for the majority of the second half, presumably because the junior was hurting the flow of the Jeffs’ offense with bad shots. It will be interesting to see whether Barnes can throw something at Amherst that will catch Hixon off guard. When you’ve coached over 1,000 games at this level, not much surprises you.

David Hixon’s Stoic expression is no coincidence. The Amherst coach has done this plenty of times before. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)


Amherst X-Factors: PF Eric Conklin ’17 and PG Jayde Dawson ’18

Conklin and Dawson had been, quite frankly, disappointments until the NESCAC Tournament rolled around. Then Conklin went 9-9 from the field in the NESCAC Championship (only his third game in double figures all season) and Dawson scored 35 points on 12-26 (46.2 percent) shooting in the final two games of the Tournament, and played 20 and 30 minutes after not seeing more than 16 minutes of action since January 17 against Bates. Sage has two very prolific big men (more on that later), but almost no front court depth, so if Conklin can play like he did against Wesleyan it will be a huge boost for the Jeffs. Not to knock Reid Berman ’17, who is a great distributor and has been playing solid basketball for Coach David Hixon, Dawson is one of the more talented point guards in the NESCAC. He has great athleticism and the ability (often unrealized this season) to score the ball in multiple ways, as well as a good sense of when to interrupt the passing lane on defense.

Sage X-Factor: Physicality

The Sage front court is not deep, but it’s strong. The Gators out-rebounded their opponents by more than 10 boards a game and are adept at getting opposing big men into foul trouble. George can’t get frustrated and start hacking away. If he gets into foul trouble early and Conklin doesn’t play like the Championship game version of himself then the Gators will have Amherst right where they want them.

What to Expect

Stopping Skyline Conference Player of the Year Deans (17.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) might be George’s toughest assignment of the season. George can match the Florida import’s height, but he gives up probably 40 pounds to Deans. The front court of Deans and Ford is probably on par or better than a healthy Sabety-Palleschi combination or the Delpeche duo. And both are very much interior players. Defensively the pair was a big reason why Sage led the country in field goal percentage defense. As we learned from watching Bowdoin this year, when you can’t get into the paint, it’s hard to score.

David George '17 is known for his defense (4.9 DRPG, 2.0 BPG), and he will need to be at his best against Sage (Courtesy of Rob Mattson/The Amherst Student)
David George ’17 is known for his defense (4.9 DRPG, 2.0 BPG), and he will need to be at his best against Sage (Courtesy of Rob Mattson/The Amherst Student)

I would never predict a blowout in a Division-III NCAA Tournament game, but I think Amherst has to be the heavy favorite in this one. Amherst’s strength on offense, three-point shooting, is Sage’s defensive weakness (or lesser of its defensive strengths). The Jeffs don’t need to go up against Deans, Ford and Sopchak. Instead they can work it around the outside and get open looks. Of course, relying on the three ball makes one susceptible to cold streaks, and Deans and Ford will certainly be going at George and whomever else Coach Hixon decides to throw down there with him, so I could foresee some foul trouble for the Jeffs’ big men that could accentuate the Gators’ front court advantage. The Gators attempted 28.7 foul shots per game, 7.3 of those coming from Deans. Trinity led the NESCAC with 16.7 foul shots attempted per game. Amherst could be surprised a little bit by the Gators’ physicality, and if they don’t rebound quickly from the first blow then Sage might pull away with the upset. The Gators will want to push the pace as well, but Amherst should be used to that, as a lot of teams in the NESCAC play the same style, and the Jeffs themselves are a fast-paced team. Andre Robinson ’16, among others, will be the one forcing the ball up the court for the Gators. Robinson not only makes plays for the big men, but can score himself. The junior guard was named the Skyline Championship Most Outstanding Player with 17 points, 12 boards, five assists and two steals in the championship game.


For all of the reasons above, this game makes me a bit nervous. Nonetheless, Coach Hixon and his players have been through this before, now in their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, so they ought to be prepared for anything. That’s why I think the skill and depth of Amherst outweighs the tough interior play of Sage, and the Jeffs roll on to Saturday.

Amherst 80 – Sage 66

The Slipper Fits the Cardinals: Stock Report 3/2

Raise your hand if at the beginning of the season you had Wesleyan winning the NESCAC championship. Heck, raise your hand if you had them winning it going into this weekend. Sure, we picked Wesleyan to upset Trinity and make the finals before the weekend began, but we didn’t think they would be able to overcome the Jeffs on Sunday.

Throughout the season a lot of different teams could claim to look like the best team in the NESCAC. First it was Bates, then briefly Middlebury, then Trinity for a long time, and finally Wesleyan. Of course, the Cardinals were the ones who were the best at the end when it really mattered.

And that is an important thing to point out. The Cardinals were the best team this weekend. They won two very close competitive games against Amherst and Trinity, but they were winning for the majority of both games. The Jeffs and Bantams had to really fight just come back and make it a game in the final minutes. The Cardinals were the team that looked the most confident in the biggest moments. They were the only team this weekend that was capable of both making outside shots and getting interior points with Joseph Kuo ’17 and Rashid Epps ’16. Their defense was masterful for most of the game against Trinity. The Wesleyan team probably felt like they were on their homecourt because of the multitude of Wesleyan students who came out to support them.

The formula for the Cardinals has changed slightly in terms of ingredients from the beginning of the season, but the final result of solid defense and rebounding combined with balanced scoring has been the same all year. We say the formula has changed because some players like BJ Davis ’16, Joe Edmonds ’16 and Jack Mackey ’16 stepped up their play as the season went along. The wonderful thing about how Wesleyan plays is that they recognize very well which players are feeling it for a particular game. For example, Edmonds was the hero against Bates in the quarterfinal scoring 22 points. Then he struggled with foul trouble and didn’t make his first couple of shots against Trinity so Coach Joe Reilly played him only 16 minutes. Instead, Reilly was able to play Harry Rafferty ’17 and PJ Reed ’17 for more minutes, and the two sophomores did a great job of stepping up.

Though Wesleyan’s win is certainly surprising, we knew going into the weekend that anyone could win the championship. No team stood out as especially dominating, even though Trinity went 9-1 in conference play. As Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle pointed out, Wesleyan was the hottest team going into the weekend, something that mattered more this season than in years past. The Cardinals have been routinely discounted by us and others when talking about NESCAC contenders. The title of our season preview for Wesleyan was “Overlooked Cardinals Return Everyone.” After this weekend, it is hard to overlook Wesleyan anymore.

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Wesleyan Fans

As mentioned above, the Wesleyan student fans were exceptional in turning out to help root on their team. Obviously it is a short drive from Middletown to Hartford, but it still takes a good level more commitment than simply walking out the door and into the gym. The semifinal atmosphere was awesome with Wesleyan and Trinity fans dueling it out in the stands while the two teams played it out on the floor as well. The Cardinal faithful were loud and boisterous, something that does not always happen at NESCAC games. In the finals, Wesleyan students far outnumbered Amherst students who could not be bothered to make the trip south from Massachusetts. Wesleyan has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently, and though it was obviously just a couple of basketball games, Wesleyan students were able to concentrate on something positive associated with their school. As somebody wrote on the Wesleyan Yik Yak, “After a tough week, thank you to Wesleyan basketball for giving us something to smile about.”

Point Guard Jayde Dawson ’18 and Forward Eric Conklin ’17 (Amherst)

A big reason for the buzz surrounding Amherst entering the season was Dawson and Conklin, two transfers from Division One schools. Both struggled to adjust to the NESCAC, and ended up being near the end of the rotation down the stretch. Then this weekend both were huge almost out of nowhere. For Dawson, the ability has always been there, but he struggled to fit into the Amherst system and took too many bad shots. Then, suddenly against Bowdoin he looked calmer and more in control. He was able to get to the basket consistently and scored 21 points, the only time this season he has scored more than 20. He was a little more erratic in the finals going 6-15 and turning the ball over four times, but he still scored 14 points and handed out five assists.

Conklin meanwhile found it hard to get playing time with David George ’17 firmly planted in the starting position. Then yesterday he just started hitting shots and didn’t stop. Nearly all of his points were simple shots from the block because Conklin did such a good job winning deep position. He finished the game with 19 points on 9-9 shooting. Both Conklin and Dawson were on the court during the final stretch, something they have not done all season. No other NESCAC team can claim two D1 transfers, much less two that usually don’t even play that often.


So all season we have been a little negative about how the NESCAC being so even this year could end up hurting the league for NCAA bids. Instead, that parity ended up helping the league as four teams got in. Amherst, Bates, Trinity and Wesleyan are all going dancing. Wesleyan would not have made the NCAA Tournament without their run to win the NESCAC tournament, and the other three teams got at-large bids. Bates and Amherst got their bids in large part because of some of their non-conference victories. For Bates their win over Babson was huge while Amherst boasted one of the best records against regionally ranked opponents. Trinity got their bid because of their 9-1 conference record. Four teams making the tournament from the NESCAC is rare. The last time it happened was in 2008 when Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury and Trinity made it. Usually the NESCAC will get two or three teams into the tournament. So why did the NESCAC end up doing better than it usually does in terms of bids? Well things broke almost perfectly for the NESCAC in a couple of ways. First, as said above, Wesleyan only made the tournament because they won the automatic bid. Then, around the country there were not too many upsets in conference tournaments which kept a lot more at-large bids open. Finally, teams that scheduled aggressively out of conference like Bates and Amherst get rewarded by the NCAA which uses Strength of Schedule extensively in their selections.

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Forward Connor Green ’16 (Amherst)

We don’t know if something was wrong with the junior scorer this weekend physically, but he looked out of sorts in both games. His 3-14 outing against Bowdoin obviously didn’t matter because the Jeffs still won by 20, but Amherst really could have used some more offense from him yesterday. Instead, Green went 2-11 from the field and finished with eight points in 26 minutes, taking a lot of bad shots and deep, contested three pointers. Coach Dave Hixon benched him for much of the second half and overtime going instead with Jeff Racy ’17 for most of the game. Green is known as a streaky shooter, but his struggles this weekend went beyond just not being able to shoot well. He failed to adjust to his poor shooting and rarely looked to attack the basket finishing the weekend with only three foul shots. What makes this weekend all the more curious is that Green came in scorching hot and had an outside shot at resting away NESCAC Player of the Year honors from Lucas Hausman ’16. He needs to get back on track if Amherst wants to make a deep tournament run.

Trinity and Bowdoin Benches

Maybe the craziest stat from this weekend is that the non-starters for Trinity and Bowdoin, the two semifinal losers, had two points combined. Two points! The only scoring came on a jumper from Ed Ogundeko ’17 early in the first half of the Trinity-Wesleyan game. Now the lack of scoring from the Bowdoin bench is not shocking because the Polar Bears have leaned heavily on their starters all season. However, for Trinity getting only two points from their bench is almost unheard of. In their quarterfinal game, Trinity’s bench nearly outscored the starters 34-32. Guys like Ogundeko, Rick Naylor ’16 and Chris Turnbull ’17 usually offer a good amount of scoring punch for the Bantams. On Saturday for some reason all of them failed to get going and Coach Jim Cosgrove was forced to adjust. Andrew Hurd ’16 did play a lot down the stretch over Jaquann Starks ’16, but Hurd did not look to score much, though he did distribute the ball well. One of their calling cards all year has been their depth, so it was surprising to see Trinity’s bench fail to show up this weekend.