Two very different narratives for the Eph women and men hoopsters have led them to the same place: the Sweet Sixteen. Also below, information about forthcoming swimming and track and field national championships. Follow this link to watch all of this weekend’s action live.
- Before diving in to the game previews, congratulations to Blake Schultz ’10 for winning the prestigious Jostens Trophy, which is awarded to the single D-III player who best exemplifies scholarship, playing ability, and community engagement. You can read profiles of previous winners, including Mike Nogelo ’98, here.
- The women were likely the final team to squeeze into the NCAA tournament, but they have made the most of it, going on the road to win two games, including probably their best game of the year, an incredibly efficient offensive performance against DeSales. The women really spread the wealth over the weekend, with six different players scoring at least a dozen points in at least one of the two games (with only Chessie Jackson doing it twice). The Ephs will need all six to play at maximum effectiveness level to have a chance versus number one Amherst, at Amherst. The Lady Jeffs have dominated all NESCAC foes since hiring super-coach GP Gromacki, and Williams is no exception, with four straight losses, including two this year by a total of 58 (!) points. Williams will be a major underdog, but all the pressure is on Amherst, and if Williams can keep it close into the second half, anything is possible. What is scary for the rest of NESCAC / the NCAA is that neither Amherst nor Williams regularly play any seniors, and each has only one Junior among its top four scorers, so this game is likely to be a preview of future tourney battles. The Jeffs are led by NESCAC player of the year Caroline Stedman, who is a terror on both ends of the court.
- The men are in the opposite situation … they cruised into the Sweet 16 behind strong games from Alex Rubin, James Wang, and Blake Schultz, and like the Amherst women, are playing at home as a heavy favorite to make it into the Final Four. I’ve heard that the fan support last weekend was among the most intense of the past decade, and hopefully the crowd will be even more amped up this weekend. Friday night they play tourney cinderella SUNYIT, which has two excellent players in 6’7 center David Golembiowski (an all-American who averages over 20 points, 10 boards, and 3 blocks) and guard Diloo Brown. SUNYIT, however, is badly outsized, and plays basically only six guys. It would be a surprise were they to beat the Ephs, but they are a solid team. The next game, if there is one for the Ephs, would be a much bigger challenge. They’ll play either a red-hot Rhode Island College team, who is likewise a bit height-challenged, but is deep, quick and athletic, and easily beat a very tough Midd team. The Ephs have struggled a bit against the press this year, so I imagine RIC will try to take advantage of its deep stable of quick perimeter athletes to try to prevent the Ephs from getting into any sort of offensive flow. They have a star point guard, Antone Brown, to match up with James Wang, and two strong wing players in D-1 transfer Jake Grimes and Mason Choice, brother of Colby star Adam Choice. The Ephs are more likely to face a veteran Brandeis squad, who, like the Ephs, starts three top-notch seniors in Kenny Small, Terrell Hollins (a rebounding beast underneath) and Andre Roberson. Brandeis, like SUNYIT, has basically a six man rotation (the difference being, all six guys who play for Brandeis are top-notch players), so if the Ephs end up facing off with Brandeis as expected, the key may be to try to wear them down with Williams’ superior depth.
- Turning to non-hoops NCAA action, both the men’s and women’s track teams have several entrants in this weekend’s NCAA championship. The men are predicted to finish 24th, and the women 6th.
- Meanwhile, the Eph swimmers are gearing up for next week’s national championship as well. The women, led by superstars Logan Todhunter ’12 and Caroline Wilson ’13, are expected to crack the top five, and the men are a threat to break into the top ten.
- Williams should have an absolutely dominant lead in the Director’s Cup standings following the winter season. They already hold the edge after the fall season, and this has been one of the most successful winter seasons ever. Men’s and women’s hoops will both finish no worse than ninth, wrestling finished 23rd, men’s and women’s track and field should both garner some points (likely quite a few for the women), women’s and men’s swimming are likely to score well at the NCAA’s, and skiing is currently in12th place. If men’s hoops, women’s swimming, and women’s track all come through as expected in the next week, Williams will have a virtually insurmountable lead heading into the spring season.