From David Fehr provided this update last week:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy New Year. The Ephwomen Soccer team gave Williams fans an early Christmas present, winning their third national championship in four years; could our hoopsters do the same for Easter?

Many of you seem to think so. Remember, if we become undefeated national champion, our record would be 33-0. The 34 predictions were strongly biased toward success: 18 of the 34 entries were at 29 wins or above. Sam Douglas and Bob Bode (of course!) were highest at 31 while Pandy Goodbody and Paul Burke were lowest at 20 victories.

I was getting pretty excited, wishing I had a higher win total (I’ve never won this pool), until the win over Springfield (which brought our record to 9-0) gave me pause. Springfield had a high pre-season ranking but is now 2 and 6, they are essentially a two-man team. Williams played well in the first half in building a 16 point lead but poorly in the second as The Pride came back to tie the game. The Ephs were fortunate to hang on to win by four.

It’s hard to size up the NESCAC when studying the pre-Christmas games. Hamilton and Williams are the only unbeatens, Amherst is 7-1, losing only to Babson – no shame there—and looked pretty good beating Springfield. The Jeffs (oops, Mammoths) bigs played better than I remembered from last year. Many of you have Williams beating Amherst two or more times; we’ll see. Colby looks good; Bates bad. Midd has two losses, Bowdoin, Trinity and Wesleyan three (including one to Williams), and Tufts five.

Encouraging: Last year, in fact in the last few years, the Ephs seemed a bit soft. This year we’ve toughened up some. Offensive rebounding is one area: last season we were the third worst of over 400 D3 teams, some games recording only 2 or 3. This year has seen better O/R numbers vs. both weak and stronger opposition. App’s squads have relied heavily on the 3-ball, often firing up 30 or more. That’s great when they’re going in. This season less emphasis on the trey. Against Springfield and Union we took 18; against Wesleyan and Manhattanville just 17 so we’re scoring inside more often. I like that.

Less encouraging: Karpowicz starts (good) but still doesn’t get enough minutes. Still too many minutes for non-scorers. The substitution pattern is head-scratching.

But the pros clearly outweigh the cons. Scadlock is the main reason we’re improved this year, but not the only reason. Feinberg is a big plus in the defense/rebounding/toughness department while Taylor and Babek have had good games. Less 3s and more paint points may signify a change in coaching philosophy but maybe there have been too few games to reach that conclusion.

So are we an offensive powerhouse that’s also more balanced than in the last few seasons – are we a Final Four contender? Was the unimpressive win at Springfield an aberration? We won’t know until the games resume; Montclair State on December 30 could be a problem (why is a school with 13,000+ undergraduates in D3 anyway?) but league games will give the answer.

Duncan Robinson update: It’s been awhile since Duncan played his one season here but locals understandingly are interested in his whereabouts. He signed a joint contract with the Miami Heat of the NBA and their G-league affiliate, the Sioux Falls, SD, Skyforce. I look at every Heat box score and see one of three things: 1) Duncan played and it shows his scoring line; 2) His name is listed with “DNP–Coach’s Decision”; 3) His name isn’t there so he must be in, of all places, South Dakota.

He’s played in 4 games for Miami for a total of 29 minutes. Attempted six shots (all 3s), made 2. Five rebounds, 1 steal. The Skyforce numbers are impressive. Ten games, all starts. The second leading scorer at 20.2 per game. Shooting 50% and 48% from deep. 3.2 rbs/ga. He’s had games of 32, 29 and 24 points. Lots of 3s but also fast break dunks. Some impressive highlight videos. His Skyforce plays in Portland in a few days (Friday, December 21) against the Red Claws. Drive up and see him, assuming he’s not in Miami that day.

Duncan is the first D3 player in the NBA since Devean George’s debut in 1999. Can he stick in the NBA? It’s certainly possible; there are perhaps a dozen guys in the league who do little except shoot the 3. He has good size. The 48% 3-pt. shooting, albeit in the G-league, will draw Miami’s attention.

Next Eph home games are January 4 and 5 when NESCAC play begins.

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