David Fehr provides this excellent preview of the recently commenced mens basketball season.

Key losses

Gone to graduation are Michael Mayer, Taylor Epley, and useful reserve John Weinheimer. Gone to (what for the young man’s sake we hope are bigger and better things) transfer is Duncan Robinson.

Mayer was a first-team All American and our leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. Robinson was our second leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, a 4th-team All American, and National D3 Rookie of the Year. Epley was our 3rd leading scorer and was All America in his junior year.

Returning

Daniel Wohl, Hayden Rooke-Ley (“Frito Lay”), Mike Greenman (who played wonderfully as a freshman when Rooke-Ley was on DL), Ryan Kilcullen, promising soph Dan Aronowitz.

Freshmen

Three guards but alas, no big men. My (usually reliable) source tells me that Cole Teal, 6-3 from Indiana, is likely to play right away and could eventually be an impact player. “Real Deal Teal.”

Schedule

We get a break; the schedule is easier than last year. All teams from New England and eastern New York. No holiday trips down south to play the likes of Hampden-Sydney. (The holiday trip this year is to Salem – as in Salem, MA!) No Stevens. No Washington & Lee. 10 games at home, 12 away and two neutral. The two toughest non-league opponents could be Springfield (20-8; made NCAAs) and WPI (22-5; ranked; lost 1st round NCAA). We do have to make two trips to Maine (stupid scheduling by NESCAC which doesn’t seem to get much right), the first to meet Bowdoin and Colby, the other Bates and Tufts; winning all four would be very difficult. The Amherst league game (“the one that counts”) is at home.

NESCAC Opposition

I had been targeting this year as the one when we’d finally turn the tables on the Jeffs, because after tormenting us for nine years, Toomey finally graduated! But they have two very good centers returning, and over the last dozen or so years, the really good Williams teams (26 or more wins; going deep into NCAAs) had one or more excellent big men (Mayer; Whittington; Coffin; DeMuth). This year not so much in the paint (and last year we were an indifferent rebounding team, even with Mayer and Robinson) so that’s a big worry. We’ll score, but will we rebound and play enough D? Anyway, after creaming Amherst by 29 in the national semi-final game last March, the dubious record still stands: Amherst has won 8 of last 9, 19 of last 26 and 29 of last 44.

Amherst should win NESCAC yet again. Tufts (especially their front line) may have the second best talent in the league. Bowdoin’s Swords is not a great center but he is a legit 7-feet, something we don’t see much of around here. Middlebury may finally have run out of stars.

What the players say

Rooke-Ley is in a class I’m auditing and we’ve had two brief discussions about this team. He says the freshmen look good (in the informal, no-coaches-present workouts), and the team will do well: “We lose players every year and we replace them.” Wohl says “we’ll be better than you expect so don’t write us off.” OK, it’s what players should say, but are these two going to combine for 60 points a game? It could take that much.

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