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Ephs lose by 2 in nail-biter …

Your analyses, please!

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Final Four Mega-Preview

Williams played an amazingly gutty four games, in a VERY tough sectional, to advance to the Final Four, where they play tomorrow night at 6:00.   In the world of “survive and advance,” survive was the key word for the Ephs.  They survived injuries and illness to their three key players (regional player of the year Troy Whittington ’11, first-team all region James Wang ’12, and Nate Robertson ’13), each of whom took turns carrying the team, while James Klemm ’13 emerged as a clutch shot-maker, with big three after big three throughout the tourney.  The Ephs survived a first round scare against a scrappy Cinderella Husson team, then survived the full court press of a very athletic Becker squad.  But they saved the real fireworks for back-to-back wins, in a raucous Chandler Gym, over top-ten teams Virginia Wesleyan and, of course, Amherst, led by legendary performances from Whittington and Robertson, respectively.  See highlights from the Amherst game here and here, read the Williams game notes here and the Wooster game notes here, read the NCAA’s Williams preview here, and listen to Coach Maker on Hoopsville here (beginning at 5:30) and the Williams College basketball show here.

Now it is on to Salem for, incredibly, the sixth time since 1997, and the second straight year.  This year has a bit of a 2003 flavor, as Williams faces Wooster, once again, in the semifinal, and the Final Four includes a MIAC squad in St. Thomas (Williams beat another MIAC school, Gustavus Adolphus, for the 2003 title).  Eph fans can only hope for a similar outcome, although as you would expect, things don’t get any easier.  One bonus: Eph first-year and Pittsfield native Caroline Sinico will be singing the National Anthem prior to Saturday’s championship game.  She often performs at Chandler, and is top-notch.  Full previews of the four teams competing at Salem below the break:

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Wrestling: National respect overdue!

Ed note: This review of the D-3 National championships in LaCrosse, WI this last weekend was written by mjayt and originally sent in to Speak Up.

With all the athletic press recently (and deservedly so) going to the Eph Men’s basketball team’s run to the final four…… what sort of went by unnoticed was the continued lack of love/respect the Williams wrestling team and New England wrestling in general gets on the national stage.
The Ephs sent 4 wrestlers to the University Of Wisconsin Lacrosse this past weekend for the D-3 National Cahmpionships. I should say that we qualified two and had two others go as “at large picks”. That in itself begins the lack of respect that our region gets in this sport. To qualify for the nationals in NE, you must win your weight bracket or be lucky enough to get one of the the four at large picks the conference gets. There are only 10 weight brackets in college wrestling, so those ten conference champions go and the coaches vote in 4 others. Many of the midwest conferences get their top two or three placers in each weight class into this event. Thus, Wartburg College of Iowa qualified all 10 of their wrestlers and eventually won their 3rd national championship in the past 4 years and 5th in the last 8 years). Take nothing away from Wartburg….they are loaded with talent from top to bottom, but you obviously have a better chance to score more team points, with more wrestlers in the field. The Ephs had hoped to qualify 6 or 7 of their wrestlers this year and make a bit more noise on the national scene, but injuries just derailed their goals (both for a repeat NE title….finishing 2nd to Springfield, and a potential top 10 national finish).
The lack of respect for our NE/Williams guys translated to the seeding and formation of the brackets at the Nationals. Senior Corey Paulish who was a 3 time National qualifier, NE conference champion at 149 lbs., and All American in 09 as a sophomore (finishing I believe 4th) was given a pigtail match (a preliminary round just to earn a place into the championship draw against a 3 time national champion, who eventually won the bracket)….for his first match! Corey lost that match and had to battle back through the long consolation bracket, eventually losing in the round that would have made him an All American for the second time.
Sophomore Ces Antista, who also was a NE Conference Champion and carried a 25-2 record into the nationals was paired against the #1 seed and returning national champion (and eventual champion again this year) in the first round. Ces battled hard and Read more

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A basketball fan from Williamstown writes…

Williamstown fan Dave Fehr writes to a few friends. He is a basketball fan and will be making the trip to Salem.

There is a tendency in some parts of the country (and at d3hoops.com) not to take NESCAC (and New England in general) hoops seriously.

Well, in the Div. III NCAA Sectional at Williamstown this weekend, three of the top-10 ranked teams in the country were present. Where else does that happen? (Well, it also happened here two weeks ago in the NESCAC tournament semi-finals (Williams; Middlebury; Amherst). Of the eight teams playing last night in the quarterfinals, three were from NESCAC. Middlebury and Williams will be at the Final Four this Friday. (That also happened in 2004 – Williams and
Amherst.) Midd and Williams, if they take care of business, would meet in
the National Championship game this Sat. All in all, I think we do pretty
well.

Coach Maker said he didn’t sleep worrying about #10 ranked Va. Wesleyan. All
black (I don’t think it’s racist to point this out, as it’s a fact: the 3
white kids on the roster sat at the end of the bench and didn’t even dream
about getting into the game), fast, could shoot, shot a lot of 3s (but not
as many as we shoot), defended the three well), and played in the ODAC, a
very strong league. The one thing they lack is height (called “length” these
days). So, I figured we’d win because of the home court and because we could
out-rebound them.

We were out-rebounded 43-33! To start the game, the Va. Wes. coach decided
to single-cover Troy. Big mistake! We went to him on our first four
possessions: layup, jumper, jumper, jumper, 8-0 Williams. Five minutes into
the game it was 13-2, at which point we went into a deep freeze and were
outscored 32-14 until halftime. Read more

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Spirit: Watch this video!

http://athletics.williams.edu/video/index

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NCAA Bracket

We’re not running one for the Div I tournament, but Idiots’Books is. Go here to play in the bracket organized by fellow Eph and, sadly, Duke supporter, Matthew Swanson ’97.

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Williams defeat Amherst 77-71! “Four times the Ephs have played Amherst in the NCAAs, four times they have won, doesn’t get much better” sez Jeffz.


From Williams College Athletic site

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Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview EXTRA: FINAL!

UPDATED:  I have moved this preview up, and added many new links, for today’s NCAA hoops action.  As expected, Williams, VWU, Amherst and RIC all advanced to an absolutely loaded sectional in Chandler.  A few links pertinent to this weeken’s action: the latest basketball show, video highlights from the Becker game,  the North Adams Transcript’s preview, Williams’ sectional preview (including webcast links), and Amherst’s sectional preview.

Of the five teams who have dominated D-3 basketball from 2003 through 20010 (Williams, Amherst, Virginia Wesleyan, Wisconsin Stevens Point, and Wash U., who have combined to win every title during that time period, with an additional five runner-up finishes), three, number ten VWU, number nine Amherst, and number four Williams, will battle for a spot in Salem.  D3hoops previews the tourney here, Williams previews its sectional here, and Amherst previews its portion of the bracket here.  Watch the webcasts of the Williams games here.

If you want in on the Ephblog NCAA pool, there will be a bonus of five points per pick for each D-3 Final Four team.  My picks are Williams (of course), Stevens Point, Middlebury, and Wooster (I’m not exactly going out on a limb, as these are four of the eight favorites, along with Augustana, Randolph Macon, Whitworth, and Amherst).  Either post your picks, or send them to me via email.  My analysis of the teams in the Ephs’ bracket is below the break.

[Note: the women’s team also made the NCAA tournament, but they are certainly long shots … even if they win their first two games, both on the road, they will almost surely have to face Amherst, who has already defeated them three times, at Amherst in the Sweet Sixteen].

(Ed note: from Jeff’s great round-up [note: click on the Whittington article, which is truly a must-read] PLUS this additional story on NESAC Player of the Year.  For the uninitiated, I also highly recommend checking out some of Troy’s innumerable highlight-reel plays).

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NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship

Racing started at 11:00. Video here. Division I seems to be racing now. Background article here.

The Ephs arrived in Sacramento Tuesday one day after some members of the program finished up final exams on campus. They spent some time on the water yesterday, as did nearly all the boats from all the teams in the compeition, and will be back out today. In addition to Williams, boats from Ithaca, St. Lawrence, Trinity, Bates, Puget Sound, Wellesley, Mary Washington and William Smith will compete in the national championship races.

“For us, given the fact we’re just coming off our exam period, we’re trying to not overwork the group,” Moore said. “We’re focusing on recharging their batteries, if you will. We’ve have to adjust to the time change (three-hour difference) and as coaches we’re just trying to talk to the group about giving each other a lot of space and forgiveness, which is what you need any time a large group travels together.

“The course looks great and it looks like we’re going to have pretty good race weather through Saturday. I’m very excited to have our first and second varsity boats pulling together in the same event. Both boats have had exceptional years, but our second boat has not been involved in a lot of close races and this will be a great opportunity to challenge themselves.”

Has Williams already raced?

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Women’s Tennis NCAA Championship Match Live

Free video available here. Can anyone figure out how to embed this? Please live-blog the match in this comment thread. Match statistics here. Video features the #1 doubles match, with Ephs Grace Baljon ’10 and Taylor French ’12 ahead 3-2. Williams leads in the other two doubles matches.

Baljon won the Lindsay Morehouse Award. It would be nice if she could finish her Williams career with another NCAA Championship.

Go Ephs!

UPDATE: Williams has won one doubles match and is up 6-2 in another. Baljon and French just broke service to go up 5-3. (Doubles matches are to 8. Call a “pro set,” I think.) Does Emory play particular weak doubles (and strong singles)? If not, thinks look good.

UPDATE II: Williams wins all three doubles matches in convincing fashion. 8-3, 8-2 and 8-0. Emory needed to go 2-1 in doubles against Amherst to beat them 5-4 in the semi-finals. I don’t think Emory has the singles game to come back from this deficit . . .

UPDATE III: All singles matches going on simultaneously. Four of the 6 are very even, but two featured easy wins in the first set by Ephs Lucy Marchese and Caroline Capute. There is a good chance that Williams will win 5-0 if those two play their second sets as well as they played their first.

UPDATE IV: Video has switched to the number 3 singles match, featuring Eph Nikki Reich, now ahead 6-4, 3-2. Williams has won the first 4 matches and the first set of 4 of the 5 remaining. If Williams loses after taking such a lead, it would be the worst collapse in Eph athletics in at least a decade.

UPDATE V: Three championship points for Reich . . . Williams wins! Happy video celebration ensues.

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Championship Week

By my estimation, the Ephs have already essentially clinched their umpteenth straight Director’s Cup by virtue of a big lead heading into the Spring sports season, a fairly pedestrian Spring by top challenger Amherst, and strong finishes already for men’s tennis, women’s golf (a program best seventh), and women’s lacrosse.  The four remaining competing Eph teams are all expected to do some serious additional damage in this week’s NCAA championships:

  • Second ranked (and two-time defending national champion) women’s tennis narrowly survived what would have been a monumental upset by Tufts, thanks to a clutch third set from frosh Nancy Worley.   Williams has two more tough matches to get through (vs. number eight Gustavus and, likely, number three Chicago, who the Ephs barely squeaked by earlier in the Spring) if they want a chance at payback against top ranked Amherst in the national title match.  Amherst has beaten the Ephs two out of three times this year, but Amherst will be looking for payback of its own after Williams upset them to claim last year’s title.  Follow live results of today’s match here.
  • Top ranked women’s crew is aiming to win an incredible FIFTH straight national title.   Can you say dynasty?
  • Women’s and men’s track and field are both bringing large groups of elite athletes to the championship.  Based on pre-meet seedings, the women are expected to finish tenth, and the men tied for eighth.  The teams are each led by precocious frosh who are individual title contenders: all-around superstar Tanasia Hoffler and javelin ace Stephen Simalchik, respectively.
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Final Four Recap

Despite Saturday’s heartbreaking loss, it was an amazing weekend in Salem.  A few highlights / memories …

  • Other than one brief stretch during which they lost their collective composure, Friday night’s performance against Guilford was masterful.  Troy Whittington and Joe Geoghegan gamely battled Guilford’s all-American center all night long despite being outsized, egregiously so in Troy’s case.  Troy repeatedly scored over his bigger defender, announcing his presence on the national stage with authority (more on this later).  But really, it was a story of an unreal shooting day by a ridiculously good shooting team.  Schultz, Rubin, and Wang all drained three after three, many from beyond 24 feet.  From what I understand, the Ephs’ 16 made threes (out of only 28 attempts!) set a D-III Final Four record.  And the Ephs drained all of their free throws down the stretch.  Frosh Nate Robertson had a particularly impressive game on the big stage … if he works hard and continues to improve, he will be a star for the next three years, after playing a supporting role this season.  Blake Schultz not only led the team on offense, but chased Guilford’s other star, Clay Henson, all over the court and limited his effectiveness.  Henson lit up Saturday’s all star game for 35 points, driving home just how amazing Schultz played on both ends Friday.  Unfortunately, the vast amount of energy he expended clearly took a toll, with a fast turnaround before an early afternoon Saturday game.  (Again, more on this later).
  • The turnout by Eph fans was truly remarkable.  Despite being the last day of midterms week and the start of Spring break, Eph fans outnumbered and outcheered their Guilford counterparts, even though Guilford was only two hours away.  And the diversity of fans on hand was amazing: many former players, including half of the 2003 title team roster, Coach Paulsen, alumni, players’ families, former players’ families, faculty, current students, Billsville locals ranging from about five to probably 75 years of age, future players and a good-sized group of college staff all made the ten hour trek.  Although WSP had the largest group of fans in attendance, that is a school with 10,000 students and a similarly disproportional alumni base.
  • Friday night, the college hosted a great local reception for all the fans in attendance.  It was great to get to know, both Friday night and elsewhere during the weekend, some members of the vast community of loyal Eph fans.  The players received a tremendous ovation when they arrived on site.  And by the way, to a man, the team couldn’t be a nicer, more modest group of guys.  They seemed truly appreciative of all the fan support, as did Coach Maker, who is likewise as nice a guy as you could ask for (he missed the reception due to media responsibilities).  Of course, there was no rest for the weary, as the Ephs were, by team rules, required to study Saturday morning prior to the big game!
  • Saturday’s all-star game didn’t include any Ephs because of their participation in the title tilt, but was fun nonetheless.  Among Clay Henson’s 35 points was an easy three which was the product of an accidental assist from usual-teammate Sanborn (they were placed on opposite teams), much to Sanborn’s chagrin and Henson’s delight.  As this game demonstrated, there is a LOT of talent in D-3.
  • Saturday’s title tilt was of course a heartbreaker.  Derek did a great job chronicling the emotional ups and downs.  I really thought the Ephs were going to take the title home, but once WSP’s run started, as Coach Maker recognized, the Ephs just didn’t have enough left in the tank … some of the stars were visibly tired from playing two VERY tough, VERY physical teams within the scope of 20 hours, and most of the top guys rarely saw the bench.  The late threes that Schultz came up just a bit short on, for example, he makes every time if he hadn’t spent 75 prior minutes playing his guts out on both ends of the floor.  Meanwhile, WSP just kept throwing out fresh, big bodies, all of whom could play great D, disciplined offense, and hit open shots.  Very tough team, and ultimately I think their depth, physicality and balance was just a bit too much for the Ephs.  The game featured, despite the loss, an absolute exhibition by Troy Whittington.  His talents are breathtaking to behold in person.  It is unlikely Eph fans will ever see another player like him — you almost never do anywhere in D-III — so they best enjoy his senior year.  Fans of the opposing teams were visibly awed at some of his insanely athletic made shots, dunks, boards, and blocks (including some absolutely gravity defying plays where he would block or alter a shot and somehow collect the rebound to boot), but what is really impressive is how he has developed into an intelligent passer with tremendous post moves and touch inside.  He should easily be an all-American if he stays healthy next year, and is arguably the best returning center in Division III.
  • Speaking of all-Americans, congrats to Blake Schultz (first team) and James Wang (fourth) for being named all-Americans.  I’d say Wang is the second best sophomore I’ve ever seen play for Williams, narrowly edged by Mike Nogelo ’98.  Wang is one of only two underclassmen on the all-American teams, and, as such, has a very bright future.  What’s amazing is that Wang barely saw the court until very late last season — his improvement has been astronomical, and was probably the single biggest reason Williams improved so dramatically from last season.
  • My fan group was heartbroken leaving Salem, but at least our feelings were assuaged by a gorgeous detour through land very reminiscent of a trip through the Berkshires (complete with driving through Amherst, VA), after our navigator took us on an unexpected one hour detour in our (ultimately successful, thankfully) pursuit of a Chick-fil-A.  After what seemed like hours of driving, I personally devoured an inhuman amount of food, and probably came the closest I ever have to the look of ultimate satisfaction featured in the conclusion of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.  If only NPH had made an appearance …
  • The Ephs looked absolutely devastated by the loss; they really poured their hearts out, tough to watch.  You could tell the idea of losing this game never entered their minds.  But looking back, they will remember this amazing and really, totally unexpected (at season’s start) run to the title game, and they can proud that they left their heart and soul on the floor, but came up just a tiny bit short against a team just as talented and well-coached as they are.  This great article from noted sports writer John Feinstein sums up the players’ emotions after the tough loss.
  • Although the incredible seven-man senior class will be impossible to replace, I expect the Ephs, hardened by this championship run, to be very strong again next season.  Fans can look forward to the return of Wang, Whittington, Robertson and Harlan Dodson, a very strong core that will be bolstered by hungry young players like Brian Emerson, James Klemm, and some talented incoming recruits.  Hopefully the fan momentum from this season carries over into next November, when both the men’s and women’s teams should be among the teams to beat in New England.  Go Ephs!
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Liveblog: WATCH the Ephs play for the NCAA National Championship at 1

It’s Williams vs. UW-Stevens Point at 1 PM

Here’s the link to the video from CBS Sports. The game will also be televised on the CBS College Sports Network.

Pre-game notes and roster details here

We will be liveblogging here and on twitter. Join us!

2:00 Tough loss for our boys, who had a truly great season. Wisconsin-Stevens Point made the plays when they needed to, we did not. The glory of sports is that they provide the opportunity to succeed but only at the risk of failure. If there were only upside, none of it would be anywhere near as compelling. The prospect of losing is what makes winning so glorious. The guys had a magical run and had a chance to win a national championship. Congratulations to them, and congratulations to the Pointers who are worthy champions even if they do not look anywhere near as resplendent in our color scheme.

To the seniors: These are some of the hardest days of your lives. With all of the buildup to this game there was little opportunity to reflect on what it all meant. My senior season of track ended with me writhing in pain with a ruptured hamstring in the triple jump pit at the All New England Championships at Tufts, a high seeding and thus future dreams going for naught. I managed to rehab and jumped for the Greater Boston Track Club for a year, then a couple of years later played rugby for my university in South Africa, but it was never the same as donning the purple and gold and I was never the same athlete. The end comes abruptly, for most of us well before we would be able to reach a physical peak. It’s tough to know that this phase of your life, so important for so many years, is done at the age of 22. I wish you all the best, and hope you know that you gave many great joy on this run to Salem.

To the Ephblog community, thanks for the chance to do this. It was great fun despite the ending that probably has many of us feeling pretty drained and empty. Read more

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WATCH the Ephs in the NCAA Final Four at 5

Here’s the link to the video from CBS Sports

Read Jeff’s preview here

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Final Four Mega-Preview

[Note: I’ve added a TON of new links so I’ve taken the liberty of moving this post up].  Congrats to the Williams men’s basketball team for making its fifth final four (most of any team in the country since the Ephs became NCAA eligible) since 1997, and first since 2004.  Williams, led by Josten’s winner Blake Schultz’s 29 points, played a great game to pull out a gritty victory against a determined, veteran Brandeis team and earn the trip to Salem, Virginia.  Schultz, by my count, is 17 points away from becoming only the fourth Eph to score 1500 career points.   Coach Mike Maker (coach of the year), Schultz (player of the year) and James Wang (first team) all earned regional honors.   Schultz, already an NABC all-American, (and possibly even Wang) is expected to earn additional all-American recognition as well on Saturday.  Sports Info has prepared several great features leading up to the game: this story introduces the Ephs’ assistant coaches, here is a story on the Ephs as they prepared to depart for Salem, and this story chronicles the Ephs’ activities leading up to game time.

The Ephs play Guilford (which survived a very tough sectional) at 5:00 Friday; the game will be webcast by the NCAA, and if the Ephs win, Saturday’s championship will be televised.  If the Ephs lose, seniors Blake Schultz and Joe Geoghegan will play in Saturday’s senior all-star game.  Get pumped up for tonight’s semifinal by watching Eph highlights here, here, and here.   You can also find many more highlights and interviewes with coaches and players at the archived men’s basketball shows.  Also read Ben Coffin 04’s thoughts on what it takes to be a champion.  Both Guilford and Williams prepared extensive game notes for this afternoon’s game.  The Ephs will aim this weekend to become the first New England team to capture two national titles.

Second-ranked Williams will face its toughest foe of the year in Friday’s semifinal.  Guilford, ranked third in the country (and ranked first for a good portion of the year) has, like Williams, had a dominant year.  They are experienced, relying on three senior stars who played in last year’s Final Four and helped lead the team to NCAA tourney appearances the prior two years.   They are also likely to have a huge crowd presence in Salem, as Guilford is only two hours from the Salem Civic Center (Guilford recently won the ODAC conference tourney, which is held in the same building, so they are well-acquainted with the court), and almost its entire roster consists of local players.  Guilford’s top player is all-American (and South regional player of the year) center Tyler Sanborn, who is a load inside at 6’10, 260.  He is by far the toughest interior player the Ephs have faced this year, and probably for several years.  If Williams’ own stellar center tandem of Joe Geoghegan and Troy Whittington can handle Sanborn without much help inside (or better yet, get him in foul trouble on defense), the Ephs will have a very good shot.   Sanborn is scary good, averaging 20 points, 14 boards, and two blocks in 26 minutes per game.  Joe and Troy, both fantastic players in their own right, COMBINE to average 18-14-2.5 in 37 minutes per game.  Guilford’s other star is all-region guard Clay Hanson, who is nearly as productive as Williams’ own likely all-American Blake Schultz, and like Schultz is a deadly outside shooter (he is Guilford’s all-time leader in threes) who can also take it to the hole.  Finally, both teams have very good point guards in James Wang for Williams and Rhett Bhonner for Guilford.  Wang is a bit more dynamic as a scorer, and this is a match-up the Ephs will likely need to win if they hope to take Guilford down.  Each team has a future star off the bench in precocious frosh Josh Pittman for Guilford (a great shooter / scorer) and Nate Robertson for the Ephs (more of a playmaker, less of a scoring threat).  The x-factors for the Ephs may be Harlan Dodson and in particular Alex Rubin, both of whom are capable of scoring in bunches and will hurt any team that focuses too intensely on stopping Schultz and Wang.   The teams look VERY even on paper and it should be a great match-up.  You can see highlights of one of Guilford’s recent NCAA victories here.  I especially enjoyed the announcer’s proclivity for shouting “give a dog a bone!”

If the Ephs can get past Guilford, they’ll play the winner of the Wisconsin Stevens-Point vs. Randolph Macon (like Guilford, a member of the very tough ODAC conference) semifinal.  Both teams are, unfortunately, familiar to Eph fans.  WSP won the first of two straight national titles by knocking off Williams in dramatic fashion to end the Ephs’ most recent Salem trip.  They don’t have the same star power as the 2004 edition (two all-American players) but they are very balanced and efficient on both offense and defense, and have tons of tourney experience (they are playing in the tourney for the fourth straight year).  They play in the WIAC, the best D-III conference in the country most years, so they are certainly battle tested. WSP’s top players are veterans Matt Moses ’10, Louis Hurd ’11, and Jared Jenkins ’11, but like the Ephs, they have seven legit players, all of whom can do some serious damage if given the opportunity.

WSP will be favored against RMC, which handed the Ephs their only loss of this season back in December, when the Ephs fumbled away a huge second half lead in a game they had been dominating.  During the post game interview on Saturday, the Ephs revealed that they’ve kept a copy of the RMC program in the locker room, and they look at it before each game to remind them to value every possession.  RMC’s Danny Jones ate the Ephs alive, but Williams has improved on defense considerably since then.  RMC is another team which doesn’t feature one or two stars, but rather relies on very balanced scoring, a deep bench, players who know their roles well, and fantastic defense.  They won’t wow you in warm-ups, but they are well-coached and play within themselves.  Defensive stopper Jordan Brown is a tough match-up for any offensive player and will likely be assigned to Blake Schultz should the teams face off again.  Eric Pugh is a stellar outside shooter who earlier this year had a big game to help RMC beat D-1 American, and also lit up F&M in the elite eight.  Brandon Braxton is a talented 6’9 center, and Jones can score in bunches, as the Ephs learned first hand.    But really, RMC, who as another local school will surely have a huge crowd on hand in Salem, has 8-9 guys that it relies on almost equally, which makes them difficult to prepare for.

The Ephs’ fan support was absolutely tremendous last weekend.  Great to see the type of school spirit and community bonding that a big-time sporting event can engender on campus.  I hope at least some students and community members are able to make the long trip to Salem on Friday, to help counteract what will surely be a massive crowd of Guilford supporters.   [Update, based on the post comments below and this article, it sounds like a small but hopefully boisterous group of supporters will be on hand].  Will we see and hear more magical moments like this shot, five years ago, from Guilford’s Jordan Snipes, or Tucker Kain’s famous game-tying three vs. Amherst?  We’ll find out in a few hours!  Good luck to the Ephs!

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WATCH Men’s Basketball Elite 8 game at Chandler!

Note from Ronit: You’ll probably have to use Internet Explorer since the whole site is powered by Microsoft Silverlight.

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Sweet 16 Preview (Plus More!)

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.
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Massive Hoops Round-Up / NCAA Preview

  • After gutting out a NESCAC championship over a very tough and determined Middlebury team, second-ranked men’s basketball earned a first round bye and hosting rights for at least the second round (and likely the next two rounds, assuming they advance).  They are the favorite in their quarter of the bracket, but they will face very tough competition from, most likely, SUNY-Plattsburgh and then either Middlebury or Brandeis.  First they have to get past what looks to be an outmatched Maine-Farmington squad, who upset Bridgewater State to earn the dubious honor of playing at Williams.  The Ephs face UMF Saturday at 7:00, and a free live webcast is available.  You can hear more about the Midd victory, and see highlights, on the Williams basketball show.  More detailed analysis of the Ephs’ likely tourney opponents below the fold.
  • Unsurprisingly, the individual accolades have already started to roll in for the Ephs: congrats to NESCAC coach of the year Mike Maker, Jostens finalist (he’s be the first Eph to win since Mike Nogelo ’98) and NESCAC player of the year Blake Schultz (be sure to click on that link, Schultz is just as accomplished off the court as he is on), first team all-conference point guard James Wang, who has won the last two player of the week awards (and is the first sophomore to make the first team since 2004), and second team all-conference center Troy Whittington (the only bench player I can EVER recall being named all-NESCAC in men’s hoops).

  • Interesting WSO discussion about trying to get louder fan participation at the upcoming basketball games.  Traveling fans are always proportionately louder, because they tend to be students, the most passionate fans, and pumped up from the trip.  Eph fans truly represented at the Amherst road game.  But there is no excuse to EVER be outcheered in Chandler, even if a good proportion of the crowd will always be older, generally-less-rowdy folks.  I loved the creative taunts mentioned in this discussion from the last Amherst road game.  Coming up with creative, effective, non-vulgar cheers that aren’t just mimicking Duke (just don’t do it) is tougher than you might think.  Really, what is most important is just to show up in droves, and be consistently LOUD.  Anyone have favorite memories of Eph fan antics and/or great hoops cheers to share?  If the Ephs end up playing Middlebury again in the tourney, I hope there is a large, rowdy student contingent present to establish a true home court advantage, unlike the last Middlebury game.  Eph pride folks!
  • Best idea from this thread?  The playing of a didgeridoo on each occasion that Australian James Wang scores a basket.  Other than, perhaps, the “Zeeman” finally making it up on the big board at Pappa C’s, nothing on earth would make me happier than the sight of a mighty sea of didgeridoos in Chandler.  I also enjoyed this link to the marching band’s favorite cheers (most of which relate to football, but still great).
  • Congrats to the Eph women, who earned a surprising bid to the NCAA’s.  This season featured a remarkable turnaround after a tough season last year, especially considering how young this team is: the Ephs start two frosh, two sophomores, and one junior, with three other frosh playing key minutes off the bench.  That one junior, by the way, is leading scorer and second team all-NESCAC honoree Chessie Jackson, who performed an outstanding rendition of the national anthem prior to the men’s NESCAC championship game … let no one claim Ephs are not multi-talented!  The Ephs have a tough draw, as they will have to pull off two upsets just to earn the right to face top-ranked juggernaut Amherst in the Sweet 16.  Watch them play tonight via this link.
  • The last time the Eph men were this loaded, Dave Paulsen ’87 was at the helm.  He’s since moved on to Bucknell, where after a rough first year and half, he’s engineered a remarkable turnaround.  Bucknell went 10-2 in its last 12, after a 4-12 start, before suffering a disappointing upset against Holy Cross to end their season on Wednesday night (apparently, Paulsen can only beat H.C. with non-scholarship players).  Bucknell is a very young squad and features three of the five top frosh in the Patriot League, plus a soph who was defensive player of the year in the conference, so the future looks bright for Paulsen.  With nine of his top ten scorers back next year, and three honorees from Paulsen’s first recruiting class, Bucknell should be a much tougher out henceforth.  And Eph fans can thank Paulsen for bringing in James Wang in his final recruiting effort at Williams.
  • Speaking of artistic Eph hoopsters, in a blast from Eph hoops past, fourteenth (Schultz has passed him) all-time leading scorer Brandt Johnson wrote and starred in Give and Go, an off-broadway show about basketball.  Read this great interview with Brandt here.  Unfortunately the play just ended its run, but if it returns (and if I hear about it!) I’ll let folks know via Ephblog.

Read more

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Drew Brees as a senior

A nine-year-old article from the archives of SI columnist Tim Layden ’78. It reads in a different light today.

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And you thought Williams had a drinking problem…

This American Life visits Penn State (MP3 download)

Episode summary

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Final Four Info and Liveblog: Run for Yourself, Run for Your Mates

Williams plays Messiah today at 6:00 P.M. for the right to go to the national championship game.  You can watch the game online here.  For those watching live, use this post for commentary.  There are plenty of previews available: Williams, Messiah, the NCAA, the Berkshire Eagle and the North Adams Transcript.  And here is another fun feature from Sports Information.  I never realized D-III soccer warranted a police escort!  Not to mention, an inspirational talk from the NBA’s best coach, Gregg Popovich.

Oh, and here is one more late-breaking feature from Sports Info.  Sounds like the Ephs are having a blast.  Congrats to Nick Pugliese, who was named to the NCAA’s Elite 88 (only one in each division in each NCAA sport) thanks to a prominent role on the team and a 4.0 GPA.

It sounds like the Ephs will need to pay particular attention to Messiah super-frosh Josh Wood, who scored an incredible fifteen (!) goals in the last nine games of the season.

Previous posts discussing men’s soccer here, here, and here.

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NCAA Soccer Sectionals, Women @ Cole w/ Free Webcast

NCAA Men’s Soccer Tourney
at York (PA) College
Sat., Nov. 21 – Sun., Nov. 22nd

LIVE STATS

Saturday
11:00 AM — Ephs vs. York

Video only link, no audio — limited viewership

—————————————————– AND —————————————————–

NCAA Women’s Soccer Tourney
@ Cole Field, Williams College
Sat., Nov. 21 – Sun., Nov. 22

ALL THREE GAMES WILL BE WEBCAST, CLICK THIS LINK TO WATCH

Saturday
11:00 AM — Ephs vs. TCNJ

(Text above quoted from the Sports Info Homepage.) I made up fancy stats sheets for my commentary of tomorrow’s women’s game, and will be doing my absolute best to keep the entire commentary of the highest quality. Please e-mail me @ wls1 (at) williams.edu if you have any comments between today’s games and tomorrow’s Elite 8 game, which I will commentate regardless of today’s outcome.

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The Year of Eph Soccer

Although Williams soccer has an amazing tradition of excellence, 2009 represents, arguably, a new pinnacle for the Ephs, considering the ridiculous success of both current students and alumni:

  • Women’s soccer, of course, won its third straight NESCAC title, going undefeated yet again in doing so.  Brianna Wolfson ’10 was awarded NESCAC player of the year, and five other players made all conference.  Williams won two home games this weekend to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.  They next face a difficult opponent on Saturday in the College of New Jersey, which dominated Amherst on Sunday, 4-0.
  • Men’s soccer bounced back from its first NCAA miss in years to win the NESCAC title in dramatic fashion.  Conor Smith ’10 was named NESCAC player of the year, and three others made all conference.  The Ephs took two NCAA games this weekend, including a road win at RPI in Sunday, to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, where they will be a slight underdog against perennial power and fellow top-10 team York (PA), which easily knocked off Amherst on Sunday.
  • Erin Sullivan ’96 coached his Western New England squad to yet another conference championship, earning his sixth straight NCAA bid in the process.  Sullivan, the TCCC coach of the year, is featured in this great story.  WNE won its first round NCAA game on the road, but fell just short to Wesleyan in the second round, losing in penalty kicks.
  • Dan Calichman ’90 coached the CMS men’s soccer squad to a suprising win in the SCIAC tournament, earning an NCAA bid in the process.  CMS likewise upset host UC Santa Cruz in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but fell just short in the second round.
  • Khari Stephenson ’04’s pro soccer career is still going strong, and he helped his team secure the Norway Cup last week.  For those, like me, who prefer their sports news from the original source material, you can read about it in Norweigian here.
  • The future of Eph soccer looks secure as well, given the numerous underclassman Ephs among the all-conference honorees and NESCAC scoring leaders.  Of course, it always helps to have high school stars like Noah Cadet [’14?] interested in coming to Williams.
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Sports Updates

  • Women won 2-1, going to NCAA Sectionals.
  • Men won 1-0, going to NCAA Sectionals.
  • Volleyball lost in three games.

Admins,  please add links to Sports Info articles as they are posted. I will do so when I have time, but it won’t be for a few hours.

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Heck of a Weekend at Williams …

Whether you are an alumnus in town for the big game, or an undergrad looking for ways to distract yourself from approaching finals, this weekend should be a fun one on and around campus.  One suggested itinerary:

  • Thursday night, check out jazz/funk legends Medeski Martin & Wood at MassMoca.
  • Friday night, check out one of Eph Stephen Sondheim’s best musicals, Company, at the ’62 Center Mainstage.
  • Saturday morning, catch the first half of the women’s soccer NCAA contest before sprinting over to Weston Field for the Amherst game.  More info on Homecoming events here.
  • Saturday night, don’t miss the Octet’s 35th Reunion Concert, featuring tons of Octet alumni making it back to campus to perform.
  • Sunday morning, depending on Saturday’s results, make the 45 minute drive to Troy to support men’s soccer against host RPI in NCAA action, or head down to Cole Field to catch the women in second round action.  (Alums pay special heed to this one — Troy is on the way home for anyone from the NYC area crashing in Williamstown Saturday night!).
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Jim Brown speech

Jim Brown shares lessons with college athletes:

The NFL and its players union share the blame for failing to take care of those who retire from football damaged by its violent collisions, Hall of Famer Jim Brown said Thursday.

One day after appearing before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on head injuries in football, Brown said in a series of talks at Williams College that the league’s failure to take care of retired players is “a crying shame.”

“The NFL, with the players association, have been an embarrassment, because the legends of the game who have run into hard times, medically and economically, have been deserted,” Brown said. “It’s a crying shame that an organization like the NFL does not take care of their own.”

Brown said he was optimistic that something would come of the hearings, noting that Congress has threatened to repeal the antitrust exemption that allows the league to negotiate lucrative TV contracts. “When you talk about that, you hit a nerve with the NFL,” he said.

Known since he retired at the peak of his career as much for his outspoken views as his football prowess, Brown had even harsher words for the NCAA, calling it “the most ridiculous organization in the country.” Criticizing administrators who live off the money generated by college athletes, he said, “College athletes aren’t amateurs, these guys are the farm teams for the NBA and NFL.”

Link to full article

(h/t Meirabb)

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Today’s the Day – NCAA Soccer Semifinals @ 5 PM FINAL UPDATE


Macpherson Field, Greensboro, ready for play

(photo copyright Williams College)

 

 

The day has finally arrived. The Williams women play the defending D3 National Champions, the Thunder from Wheaton College (IL), in the NCAA Final Four today at 5 PM EST.

UPDATE: Wheaton ahead 1-0 at the half (5:50 PM). Williams playing strong. Almost scored twice in the first 2 minutes. Wheaton answered at about 6 minutes in. Luck has not been with the Ephs so far, with two no goals and a slew of flyers over the bar. They are composed and look very good. GO EPHS!

2ND UPDATE: Weird tap in early in the 2nd gives Wheaton another point. Bad luck Let’s hope it turns soon.

3rd UPDATE: Gabby Woodson sneaks one in. With 30 min. left, it’s 2-1, Wheaton.

4th UPDATE: Wheaton scored again, about 6 min. left.

FINAL UPDATE: And there it ended for the Ephs. Both teams played well and cleanly and the game was much closer than the score indicated. Until that third Wheaton score, it could have gone either way. A big disappointment, but a glorious journey. Congratulations to our Ephs and their worthy opponents.

In Greensboro: Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park (directions included)

                    6015 Townsend Road 

                          Browns Summit, NC

In Williamstown: on the big screen at Paresky

Online: NCAA.com (remember to preload the Silverlight.2.0(2).dmg software )

And here’s another fun story about the team that gives a bit of flavor of what it’s like to be getting ready to play in the Final Four. Not mentioned in the article are the parents. I have no doubt that many (most?) of them are in Greensboro, that they are having a great time together, and that they and their daughters are enjoying spending a little (but probably not much) time together. From what I can tell, the parents form the core of a spirited, highly supportive fan section. If you can, join them in the cheering, whether at the field, in Paresky, or online.

Note that the Amherst men play today in the men’s Final Four. 

Go Ephs! Go Lord Jeffs! Go NESCAC!

The team, all cleaned up, in Greensboro (pre-NCAA banquet?)

(photo copyright Williams College)

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NCAA Women’s Soccer Final Four: Ephs vs. Wheaton (IL) 5 PM EST Friday in Greensboro (UPDATED)

The Ephs (19-0-1) will play the Wheaton College (IL) Thunder (21-3-2) at 5 PM EST on Friday in Greensboro in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Final Four. 

According to their local paper, one Wheaton player is out battling cancer and several others have sustained season-ending injuries. Nonetheless, they are quite a formidable team. The defending national champions, Wheaton has won the championship three times (2004, 2006, and 2007) in the previous four years, losing only to Messiah College in 2005. (Messiah, last year’s runner up, is in this year’s Final Four, playing William Smith in Friday’s other semifinal.)

Williams, too, is extremely formidable. Undefeated this season, they are 36-1-1 in their last 38 outings, and are ranked #1 nationally.

The live free video should be here. If that does not work, try linking up through the Williams sports page. UPDATE: You need to download Silverlight.2.0(2).dmg ahead of time for the NCAA broadcast to work on your computer.

 If you are in Williamstown, go to Paresky to see the game on the big screen, thanks to arrangements made by Will Slack ’11. And if you are anywhere near Greensboro, please try to go out to support the team.

Lots of background information about the teams here.

GO EPHS!

team photograph copyright Williams College

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NCAA National Soccer Semis & Final, Greensboro 12/5 and 12/6

The first details are out on the Women’s NCAA Division III Soccer National Semifinals & Finals

December 5-6, 2008
Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park
Greensboro, North Carolina
Host: Greensboro College
Hosted by Greensboro College and the City of Greensboro

 

Friday, December 5
5:00 PM – Williams (19-0-1) vs. Wheaton (IL) (21-3-2)
7:30 PM – William Smith (16-1-5) vs. Messiah (22-0-2)

Saturday, December 6
5:00 PM — Friday’s winners meet for NCAA title

The games will be videocast for free on a CBS College Sports connection provided by the NCAA. The D3 men’s games will precede the women’s, and the current schedule is confusing because it only lists the men’s games. This may change over the interim, but look to the Williams Sports site for updates and clarifications. Cross your fingers that the video feed will work: I have a 50% success rate with this broadcaster this season. 

The Williams Sports page reminds us that the Williams women last appeared in this tournament in 1999, when Williams hosted and the team finished third.

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Women’s Soccer (updated: WINS, 2-0!!) NCAA Elite 8 vs. Ithaca at 1 PM EST, Cole Field

The Williams women’s soccer team takes on the Ithaca Bombers today at 1 PM EST on Cole Field for the NCAA Elite 8/sectional final. Audio for the game will be available for free on Teamline, with the team’s regular online announcer Will Slack broadcasting.

The soccer parents will be picking up the NCAA admission fees for all Williams students who come down to Cole Field. Yesterday had quite a loud and loyal fan section, thanks in part to a similar parental funding incentive.

It will be another cold day, but may be a little bit warmer than it was yesterday. Expect rough, slippery going for the players as the temperature is not expected to reach above 29; as Will points out, cleats don’t work well on frozen ground. There may be flurries.

Go Ephs!

LAST UPDATE: Williams wins, 2-0. Looks like William Smith beat Amherst 1-0 in OT (but Amherst was the better team on stats — as we learned last year, anything can happen in these games).

UPDATE: At the start of the broadcast, Will just said it was 10 degrees warmer than yesterday (and I don’t hear the wind howling the way it did yesterday  Will says it’s very windy, and I hear it now), but still extremely cold. He expects the footing to be much improved. They’ve moved over to the men’s field today (because they chewed up the women’s field in yesterday’s semis). There is a good-sized Ithaca parent section present, in addition to very vocal Eph students, parents, and other fans.

Here’s what the end of the second half looked like yesterday:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo by Kris Dufour, copyright Williams College

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