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Amherst is Getting Stupider

Jeff and I are having a dispute about the interaction between Amherst’s increased committment to enrolling lower income students and the quality of its student body. See the thread for details. Jeff claims that:

Amherst DID meet [President Tony] Marx’s goal, and without any negative impact on the school’s aggregate SAT scores, which are precisely the same as Williams (essentially), and precisely the same as they were before Marx’s tenure (or maybe a tad higher).

Facts are stubborn things.

Amherst, to its credit, makes public an annual Report to Secondary Schools. (Williams ought to do the same. We should always be at least as transparent as Amherst.) The Reports are excellent documents, thorough and thoughtful. Consider this table about the Critical Reading test scores for the class of 2009.


A lovely distribution. Amherst is an amazing college because it has amazing students. Then, President Marx comes along and decides to increase the enrollment of lower income students. Since admissions spots are limited (let’s ignore recent changes in Amherst class sizes), this means decreasing the enrollment of high income students. Alas, because of the correlation between family income and SAT scores, the only way to do this is be decreasing SAT scores at Amherst. Four years later, we have this for the class of 2013.


1) Jeff is wrong. Amherst’s verbal SAT scores are significantly lower. (Math and ACT scores tell a similar story.) In admissions, there is no free lunch.

2) The trade-off is exactly as I described it four years ago.

The basic thrust of the article is that Marx is going to start letting in lots of 1350 SAT students from lower income families while rejecting more 1550 SAT students from higher income families.

And that is what happened. The percentage of Amherst students with a verbal SAT score from 750-800 has decreased from 47% to 35%. That is a huge change, accomplished mostly by only accepting 467 such students, down more than 580 from 4 years previously. The percentage of Amherst students with a verbal SAT score 600 or below has increased from 4% to 10%. Again, a large change in the context of elite higher education.

I hope that Marx’s successor continues with this policy, that he pushes Amherst to be even more socio-economically diverse, that he rejects even more (rich) students with 1550 SATs (who Williams will accept) while accepting more (poor) students with 1350 SATs (who Williams will reject).

It does not take a genius to figure out where Amherst will be in fifty years if it continues down this road.


Marx To Leave Amherst

From the New York Times:

At a time when the digital revolution has thrown the mission of libraries into question, the New York Public Library is planning to name Anthony W. Marx, the current president of Amherst College, a native New Yorker and a passionate advocate of public education, as its new president.

Hat tip to reader David H.T. Kane ’58.

1) Most likely explanation for this change is that Marx was ready for a change after 8 years at Amherst. He is from New York, has a commitment to public education and a wife on the faculty at Columbia. All in all, an unsurprising move.

2) This change saddens me because I want Williams to significantly outpace Amherst, and Marx’s emphasis on socio-economic diversity was helpful to that goal. Enjoy these rants from 4 (!) years ago. A snippet:

Letting in smart low-income kids does nothing to Amherst’s reputation (except to improve it). Letting in not-so-smart low-income kids has the potential to be devastating to that reputation.

Bringing in more low-income kids would require added compromise. To meet Marx’s 25% goal, Amherst would have to take more threes [on a 1-7 scale], says Parker, meaning those who may have straight As but SATs as low as 1360. Even though Amherst already does so for minorities, legacies, and athletes, faculty members are worried. “This could be a radical departure that fundamentally changes the character of our institution,” warns physics professor David Hall, who heads the Faculty Committee on Admissions & Financial Aid.

Hall is right to be worried. If you think that, on average students with 1360 SATs do as well as though with 1560s, then you don’t know what you are talking about. People like Marx like to tell stories about specific students who come to Amherst with low scores and then thrive, winning academic awards, writing excellent theses, being named to Phi Beta Kappa. And such stories are certainly true. But they do not represent the average result. In fact, the typical academic performance of 3s is certainly worse than that for 1s, even during senior year (by which time any disadvantage in terms of preparation should have been alleviated).

The only way to meaningfully increase the percentage of students from the bottom quarter of the income distribution is to admit a bunch of applicants that you currently reject, applicants that are not as academically talented/focused as your other students.

I hope that Marx’s successor continues his policies and goes even further. Fill Amherst with low income students with 1360 SATs while Williams takes all the high income students with 1500 SATs which Amherst used to accept but now rejects. Guess what happens after a few decades . . .

3) Total speculation alert! Could there be a nasty understory here? Perhaps Marx’s mismanagement has left Amherst in such a precarious position that he is simply getting out while the getting is good. Recall hwc’s evisceration of Amherst’s financial standing nine months ago. There is a non-trivial change that Amherst is in huge financial trouble.

Also, recall the scandals besetting Jide Zeitlin, head trustee at Amherst. (Love the comments at the end of that post from EphBlog’s readers in India!)

By the way, is anyone shocked Zeitlin is still chair of the Board at Amherst? I am. The guy sure seems like trouble, and trouble is the last thing that Amherst needs.

The odds that Marx’s departure is an indication of real problems at Amherst, problems so serious that they might significantly weaken the college relative to its peers, are low. But they are not zero . . .


What’s an Eph to do…

…if he or she is a Delaware voter, and is inclined to vote for Chris Coons in the upcoming Senate race:

Chris is a graduate of Amherst College with a B.A. in Chemistry and Political Science, and earned his law degree from Yale Law School and a Master’s in Ethics from Yale Divinity School. Chris also studied at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.


Amherst Debt Rating Raised

From reader Kevin:

Moody’s gives Amherst College its highest possible debt rating

July 6, 2010

AMHERST, Mass.—In its most recent periodic review, Moody’s Investors Service, whose ratings of the fiscal health of colleges and universities determines the interest rates those institutions pay when they issue bonds, has restored Amherst College to the highest possible rating and outlook that Moody’s gives to colleges.

Peter J. Shea, the college treasurer, said he welcomes the “Aaa Stable” rating as an important validation by an outside party that budget reduction measures implemented during the economic downturn have substantially strengthened Amherst’s financial position.

1) What is Williams’ current rating? Perhaps a reader with Moody access can help us out.

2) I am surprised that Amherst’s rating was raised. Recall HWC’s discussion of their “ugly” 2009 financial report. Have things gotten better? Was HWC wrong? Informed commentary welcome


Hiring and the liberal-arts graduate

The Wall Street Journal “Hire Education” blog has an interesting item from Allyson Moore, career center director at a certain 7th-ranked college halfway across the state. She recounts a story from one of her students that should sound familiar to many Ephs:

Vincent DiForte, an Amherst College senior majoring in psychology, recently did so in an interview with a consulting firm. During the interview, Vincent talked about the analytical, problem-solving, and reading and writing skills he had honed through his liberal-arts education.

“I think that allowed the interviewer to see that I would be able to adapt and be successful in any working environment,” said Vincent, who received a job offer from the firm. “I think they were looking for someone who would be able to take on a larger role, and more and more responsibilities. The broad education I’ve received afforded me the ability to be viewed in that way.”

But is it really true, as she adds, that “Too often, liberal-arts students fail to recognize the value of their own education”? I hope not — if it is, then students are failing to get something important that liberal arts study should impart…


Jeff Alumni group take over EphBlog …

Alum group pictured after a grueling two-and-a-half hour, three hole contest

At the midnight hour, a distinguished group of Amherst alums met with the beleaguered management members of EphBlog and persuaded them to turn the blog spot over to the Amherst consortium.

EphBlog, plagued with readership problems after the resignation of its’ cantankerous founder, Colonel Cain, had been previously reported in the trade press to be available for ‘reasonable considerations’.

The quick-thinking alums, known informally as Larry, Moe, and Curley, jumped at the opportunity of providing the mid-Massachusetts Amherst College with its own informal voice without having to go to the time and trouble of actually setting one up themselves. A knowledgeable source reports that this is a close parallel to the founding of Amherst itself with library books stolen from the northwest-corner-of-Massachusetts Williams College.

In a witching hour meeting with EphBlog management members Grommet Watchammaycallitt and Ken ‘Da Mouth’ Thomas terms were quickly agreed. While the exact terms were not disclosed, they purportedly include four ‘tips’ for Amherst admission to offspring of the former management, the New York City franchise for a team in the much-discussed National Cricket League, and a complete set of the Flaam-English dictionary (1934).


Good Morning, My fellow Lord Jeffs …

As your new editor-in-chief (and my thanks to the search committee chaired by my Uncle Moe), I assure you that for you who can read, you will find the type of writing quality and diversity that you would expect from our alma mater.

For those of you who, in addition, can write, this will be your place to contribute to the Tupperware Party that JeffBlog offers. Chat with your classmates, buy those storage containers so badly needed in your refrigerator, and best of all know that through the magic of electricity, you can have spell-check set automatically.

For those majority of alums and undergrads who can neither read nor write, may I ask that if you are sitting, standing, or all-too likely lying next to one, please assure him/her that there will be lots of pictures of stuff.

I pledge to you that the tone of JeffBlog will represent the type of researched and reasoned articles that will make you proud to stretch those little gray cells.

I am working on my first such titled “Those 50’s guys in tweed were light-in-the loafers and didn’t want a single!! I’ll tell you in detail and anyone who disagrees is open for a punch in the snoot”.

Welcome, and watch the blog for much more to come!


Basketball memories …

“Who among us does not remember that undefeated team of 1924”, writes class of ’26er Sheldon Farquahar. “The team under the direction of legendary palindromic coach Otto “Ere I saw” Otto won four straight!!”, he continues.

Thank you, Shel, for this photo and fond memoir. At bottom center is, of course, the towering 6′ 2″ star “Too Tall” Quincy Van der Menthe, who later went on to industrial prominence as the inventor of the one-handed squeeze mop.


My service overseas: Que Pasa …

Hey dudes, I was so surprised to find that I, Mimi Mimosa, Class of ’12 had won the coveted Quincy Van der Menthe Award for Overseas Study in the Sanitation Industry that I almost, as my roomie Rhonda would put it, “plotzed”.

Yay! a summer in Catalonia working for S.H.I.T! How was it? Muy Magnifico! The people in Terrassa, like, scrubbed the arches of the Masia Frixa BY HAND! Ooooooow!

But when I showed up in my Lili Pulitzer Pandemonium mini with my Manolas, they were amazed! You know how the Spanish are – all hands. Well, after that part was over, I demonstrated the one-handed squeeze mop, invented by some alum. I guess, and it was their turn to ‘plotz’!

Who’d a thought, huh?

Well, just a few months more and it’s maternity leave for me this summer.

Hasta la vista!!!! (I don’t have that thingy that turns the exclamation points upside down)





Results of the weeklong Haiti fundraising contest, announced last night: Williams raised $10,524. Amherst came in at $7500.08. Thanks to all who participated!

(thanks to Lizzy Brickley ’10 for the info)


Not Worth That Much

From the Wall Street Journal:

Facing shrunken savings and borrowing options, parents and students are making some tough trade-offs in choosing and paying for college, suggesting some shifting attitudes toward higher education may endure beyond the recession.

Old dreams of adult children earning degrees from elite, door-opening colleges or “legacy” schools attended by relatives are falling away in some families, in favor of a new pragmatism.

But now, “families are much more price-conscious and value-conscious,” Dr. Losco says. A soon-to-be-released Sallie Mae-Gallup study of 1,600 college students and their parents, conducted in March and April, says parents are increasingly anxious about tuition—and students are more skeptical about the value of a degree, compared with the survey from a year earlier.

Chelsea Thomas’s family was proud when she enrolled at Amherst College, in Amherst, Mass., and had an academically rich freshman year. Having a child at Amherst confers “bragging rights,” says Suzanne Thomas, Chelsea’s aunt who shares the college costs with the student’s mother.

When Chelsea’s scholarship expired after her first year, the family faced coming up with $26,000 to keep her at Amherst. That would have meant digging deep into savings that had been set aside for retirement, says her mother, Shelley Thomas.
Whatever It Takes

Relatives and friends pressured them, saying Chelsea “should do whatever it takes to continue” at Amherst, says Suzanne. Instead, the family decided that Chelsea would be happier as a financially independent young adult living close to family. Chelsea returned to the family’s home in Boulder, Colo., last year and became a partner in the real-estate-investment business that her mother and aunt own jointly.

Now 20 years old, Chelsea co-owns two rental houses and is working on a bachelor’s degree at a nearby public university. Chelsea says she misses her Amherst friends and the stimulating campus environment. Still, she adds, a degree from a top school “is worth a lot, but it’s not worth that much.”

True of Amherst, certainly!



Athletics Round-Up and Live Blog: Rivalry Night

The webcast of the two basketball games tonight, and live stats, will be available here (women play at 6, men play at 8):

  • Williams travels to Amherst for a huge hoops double-header Friday night.  First, the Ephwomen, fresh off their first win against Bowdoin in 15 tries, try to hand undefeated and top-ranked Amherst its first loss of the season.  A young Eph squad, featuring two frosh, two sophomore and one junior starters, will be a huge underdog to an Amherst team that has dominated all comers this year, including the Ephs in January.  The Ephs have been helped by the recent emergence of promising frosh Claire Baecher, who at 6’3 is the rare combination of a shot-blocker with three point threat.  Amherst has a deep and balanced squad, making defending them all the more difficult; any one of 8-9 players could lead them in scoring on any given night.  Caroline Stedman had been particularly hot of late.  An upset by Williams would lock up a first round home game in the NESCAC tourney and go a long way towards securing an NCAA birth.

  • The situation is reversed in men’s hoops, where second-ranked Williams, which has been on a major roll of late (including a 43 point demolition of a Bowdoin squad that recently defeated Amherst), will be heavily favored against an uncharacteristically struggling Amherst squad, which has been hurt by an injury to star Conor Meehan (he may play vs. the Ephs) and has lost five of its last six games, several by wide margins.  The game is likely to be closer than the teams’ records suggest, as Williams has not swept the Jeffs in the regular season since 1996, a period that includes four final fours and a national championship for Williams!   Moreover, despite their struggles on the road, Amherst is a perfect 7-0 at home.  The nation’s number one team lost convincingly Wednesday night, so the Ephs will likely rise to first in the nation should they sweep Amherst and Trinity, but more important is to at least secure a split, which would lock up home-court advantage in the NESCAC tourney.  Williams continues to lead the nation in field goal percentage, three point percentage (shooting a positively scorching 46 percent from deep, led by a ridiculously hot Blake Schultz, who is 12-12 from deep over his last three games … that’s tough shooting against air), and scoring margin.  One fun wrinkle: Williams and Amherst are also competing to see who can raise the most money for Haiti relief.  The winner will be announced at half-time.  Watch both games here, and for those watching, feel free to use this post as a live blog.  You can also (for a fee) hear the Williams broadcast, including Pres. Falk’s comments at halftime.
  • Read more


Beat the ‘Herst

Here’s how much Ephs for Haiti Relief has raised so far for Partners in Health (CharityNavigator profile):

We’re in a contest with Amherst to outraise them. Can you help? DONATE NOW. More information here and here. Some on-campus events this week:

Thursday, February 11: NEIL ROBERTS LECTURE 5pm, NAB 241  «Existentia Caribbeana : Why the Haitian Revolution Still Matters »

Friday, February 12: HAITI RELIEF DINNER, Congregational Church, First Seating 5-6:30pm, Second Seating 6:45-8:30pm. Tickets to the dinner are being sold in Paresky.


Zeitlin: Obama Vetting Disaster

Schadenfreude is good for the blogger.

Jide Zeitlin, the Obama administration’s nominee to be America’s point man for financial reform at the United Nations, has withdrawn himself from consideration for the job, an administration official tells The Cable.

Zeitlin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and telecom entrepreneur, had faced criticism for his business dealings related to Indian contractors and was also accused of identity fraud for an incident in which he admitted to sending an email to investors masked as coming from one of his competitors. Zeitlin testified before Congress that the email was a prank.

But concerns about his nomination grew as rumors swirled around Washington and New York that Zeitlin was engaged in other activities that called into question his overall character and also may have included elements of identity fraud.

Specifically, one woman contacted several government offices and multiple news outlets, including The Cable, with allegations that Zeitlin had used deception to lure her into what eventually she claims was a romantic relationship. Those allegations could not be independently confirmed by The Cable. The administration official declined to comment as to whether they had been investigated as part of Zeitlin’s vetting process or afterwards.

More here and here. The Williams connection? Zeitlin is the chair of the trustees at Amherst. He is, perhaps, the man most responsible for the Amherst financial implosion.

Movie fans will agree that only one movie scene best connects “used deception to lure,” “romantic relationship” and “Amherst.” Yet I can’t find it on the web! Help me, dear readers . . .

I could not be happier that Tony Marx is the President of Amherst and that Jide Zeitlin is their board chair. May they stay in those jobs for years to come . . .


Reports to Secondary Schools

Amherst makes public, and has done so for many years, its Report to Secondary Schools. These documents are thorough and informative. Kudos!

Why doesn’t Williams do the same? We have all the same data. We almost certainly prepare a similar report for internal use. (I bet that the trustee (pdf) “Committee on Admission and Financial Aid: Robert G. Scott, Chair; David C. Bowen, Valda C. Christian, Michael R. Eisenson, Jonathan A. Kraft, William E. Oberndorf, Malcolm W. Smith, Laurie J. Thomsen” looks at a report each year that is indistinguishable from this one.) Here are some historical copies. I read the one from my class and it was, unsurprisingly, very similar to what Amherst makes public.

Simple rule: If we create a already create a report for internal use that is almost identical to a report which Amherst makes public, then we ought to make our report public as well.


Episodes of alumni concern

From a note originally sent by Prof. Birnbaum to DK, republished here with permission – Ronit

Dear David,

Re the matter of Mr. Moore, I note that the discussion has ebbed somewhat—although of course it is entirely understandable that alumni and parents and friends would be distressed by the news. In my own contacts with persons from higher education, no one has mentioned it—perhaps because everyone is too concerned with difficulties at their home institutions. I ran into the Georgetown Law Dean of Admissions the other day, but he did not inform me that he was subjecting Williams applications to special scrutiny.

In brief, the world goes on……

Of course, there are any number of memories evoked by alumni interest. I recollect a period at a sister institution, when alumni and trustees were convinced that faculty were taking liberties with academic freedom. Amherst’s President at the time, a former faculty member and fine Americanist, Bill Ward, invited some faculty and some alumni and trustees to dinner. The discussion proceeded on familiar lines, until a Trustee said that he thought that the President “ought to run a tight ship.” A faculty member thereupon identified himself as a navy reserve officer, declared that a liberal arts college had to be distinguished from an aircraft carrier, and noted that in any event under the theory and practise of combat command in effect in the Navy, a good deal of decentralization and independent initiative by officers, petty officers and ratings was called for. Bill held no more such dinners that year…..

As for Williams itself, historians could produce any number of episodes of alumni concern. Sometime in early modern history, before internet, a somewhat overwrought young lady attending Williams wrote an article for the monthly Commentary. She objected to unisex dorms, and to feminist ideas in the classroom, since (she explained) she was from an Orthodox Jewish family and offended by these things. No doubt, but she did know about these aspects of Williams life before coming and could have enjoyed the relative tranquillity of the women’s college of Yeshiva (academically excellent, too.) The article attracted the attention of a Washington journalist named John Leo and he wrote a column on ideological oppression at the liberal arts colleges, with Williams in the dock. The fact that Leo did not trouble to visit the campus, or to make any other effort to inform himself of the situation, seemed not to bother any number of alumni who promptly wrote to the Alumni Review—their worst fears having found confirmation…..

In my own time, I was once shown (1946, I think) a letter from an eminent alumnus to President James Phinney Baxter of revered memory. He said that he and others were profoundly worried. Younger graduates were coming to their investment firms apparently convinced that Sir John Maynard Keynes was right about the economic cycle. The US was then about to enter, despite all fears of post-war depression, one of the most sustained and broadest periods of economic growth in our history—not least due to the Keynesianism of the economists advising the government. Given present arguments, one can only say, plus ça change……

Very best regards and thanks for posting my efforts,
and thanks as well to those who took the trouble to comment,


Rivalry Weekend

This weekend in Williamstown, the tenth ranked Ephs take on number fourteen Amherst in men’s ice hockey on Friday night, and in men’s and women’s basketball in a Saturday double-header.   Both Eph swimming teams travel to Amherst on Saturday.  Given that this is the first weekend of Winter Study and all ten teams in action are highly regarded (eight of the ten are nationally ranked, with one of the two exceptions, Williams women’s basketball, also having a very strong season at 10-3), expect a raucous environment at Chandler and Lansing Chapman and some exciting, hotly-contested match-ups.  All of the rivalry contests will be viewable via webcast (although the Williams home webcasts are all pay-per-view, darn you budget crunch!).  Amherst previews all of the match-ups here.

Men’s hockey has its strongest squad in years, led by two stellar goalies, Ryan Purdy ’12 and Marc Pulde ’10.  The roster was recently bolstered by mid-season Canadian import Mark Lyons ’13.

The men’s basketball game should be particularly fun.  In a storied rivalry between two of the top D-III programs of the last two decades, Amherst has had a major edge of late, but the Ephs have turned things around under new coach Mike Maker, toppling Amherst in a regular season contest last year for the first time since 2004.  Incredibly, the Ephs still haven’t beaten Amherst at Chandler since the same year, enduring a five game home losing streak after beating Amherst five straight times at Chandler.  The team and crowd (many of whom this year sport “Sixth Man” t-shirts) will certainly be pumped up for the game.   Amherst and Williams are evenly regarded, ranked ninth and eleventh respectively, so expect the game to go down to the wire.  And if nothing else, it should be an entertaining game, as Williams is an offensively-minded team that puts up an astonishing 91 points per game, and Amherst is no slouch in the scoring department either.

The Ephs are usually paced by leading scorers Blake Schultz ’10 and James Wang ’12, who combined for 53 in the Ephs’ most recent victory, but the center combo of Troy Whittington ’11 and Joe Geoghegan ’10 form the best post duo in NESCAC, veteran starters Alex Rubin ’10 and Harlan Dodson ’11 can both light it up from three when hot (Rubin in particular has been on fire the last few weeks), and savvy frosh point guard Nate Robertson has really come on of late, emerging as a NESCAC rookie of the year candidate as his playing time continues to increase.   Amherst is led by two veteran stars, do-everything point guard Conor Meehan ’11, who almost never takes a breather, and ace shooter Steven Wheeler ’10, each of whom has had big games against Williams in the past.

Women’s hoops will face an even stiffer challenge as Amherst is undefeated, ranked second in the nation, and has all five starters back from last year’s Final Four squad.  Women’s hoops, while a major underdog, is much improved thanks to five stellar frosh in the rotation, as they have already (I believe — I realize last year was rough, but it seems to have been completely erased from the Sports Information website :)) won more games in the fall than they managed to win all of last season.  You can catch up with both basketball squads on the Sports Information basketball show.

For anyone watching any of the five match-ups via webcast (or better yet, live!), use this thread to post updates.


Yard By Yard

More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Amherst.

Today, they did the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history? Recall this post from six years ago:

Besides playing a mean tuba, TB [Jones ’58] also played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture as one of the many team pictures that used to line the walls of the old gym. I hope that they have kept up that tradition. Walking by those old photographs each day for practice provided me with a great sense of the history that I was becoming a part of. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the old pictures that lined the walls of their fictional New England prep school. From the script:

Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.

KEATING: “Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.”

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.

KEATING: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.”

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.

KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice): “Carpe.”

Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.

KEATING: “Hear it?” (whispering again) “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.

Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Perhaps he will go on to the Marine Corps. Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.

Does football coach Mike Whalen remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?

I hope so.

Williams lost today, 26-21 in a dramatic, hard-fought game. Yet, in the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.

No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.

I am Frank Uible ’57. Who are you?

[Thanks to EphBlog regular “nuts” and Williams Sports Information for the photos. Note that the post from six years ago did not include a YouTube clip because YouTube did not exist. Old Time is still a-flying.]


Biggest Little Game Preview

I imagine most folks will be watching the HUGE Amherst-Williams football game on Saturday at bars or in person, but just in case, we will be liveblogging and live-tweeting the game (as well as the other NCAA contests this weekend, which is one of the most action-packed, from a sports perspective, in recent Williams history). A liveblog/discussion post will go up tomorrow morning. It would also be fun if folks would post descriptions of scenes, or better yet photos, from the bars where they are watching! If you won’t be on campus, remember to check here for telecast locations near you or tune into NESN on DISH Network or DirecTV. Now on to the preview.

The starting point for those new to the rivalry should, of course, be 2007’s amazing College GameDay broadcast. This older thread contains a lot of links about the rivalry, many of which are still valid. Some of the highlights include stories from 2007 and 2000, as well as this 2007 column by ESPN’s Chris Fowler. Also be sure to bone up on The Walk, the best post-game football tradition in the country.

Williams previews the game here, Amherst previews it here, the Berkshire Eagle here, MassLive here. Eph football video shows can be found here.  Additional late-breaking previews: North Adams Transcript, Berkshire Eagle parts one and two.    

This game is one of the biggest games of the last 30 years for Amherst: it represents a chance to go to 8-0 for the first time in decades; a chance to beat Williams for the first time in any current player’s time on campus; and a chance to beat Williams on Weston Field for the first time since, incredibly, 1985. If Amherst loses, on the other hand, an amazing 7-0 season will suddenly feel hollow, having to “share” (but of course it won’t feel like sharing) the NESCAC crown with their hated rival. To say that the Jeffs will be extremely fired up is the understatement of the year. Of course, the Ephs don’t want to be the group to lose the home winning streak, or be the first group of guys to be unable to “walk” since 1995 (and in some sense, that group got a pass as they were forced to compete on a basically unplayable Weston Field), so they will be equally fired-up.

Williams vs. Amherst represents the immovable force vs. the unstoppable object.  Amherst is ranked first in New England, Williams second. Williams has the top scoring offense in the league; Amherst has the top defense. Williams excels at protecting the quarterback; Amherst has the most sack-happy defense NESCAC has seen in ages. Williams leads the conference in rushing by a wide margin; Amherst did the same, for rushing defense. The other side of the ball should be equally interesting. Williams’ defense and Amherst’s offense were inconsistently early in the season, but both have really excelled over the last few weeks. Williams, in particular, has improved as some of its injured players have returned to health.

Key players for the game: Williams has gotten big plays on defense this year from reigning NESCAC player of the week Matt Zanedis ’09, Dan Canina ’12, Mt. Greylock alum Dylan Schultz ’12, and future star Chris Cameron ’13, who along with Amherst’s Sam Clark ’13 is vying for honors as the top frosh defender in the league. Amherst thrives on a collection of fast, athletic pass rushers / run stoppers up front, including returning first team all-conference defensive ends Eric Pender ’10 and Edwin Urey ’10; lightning-quick back-up Kevin Ferber ’12, 24-year-old D-I transfer and former pro baseball player Jeff Katz ’11, (all of whom are among the league leaders in sacks and tackles for losses) and leading tackler Mike Taylor ’10. Amherst has a very experienced secondary, featuring three senior starters led by NESCAC interception leader Fred Argir ’10, but teams have had more success passing than running this year against the ‘Hurst.

On offense, Williams relies on a steady ground game from NESCAC rushing leader Ryan Lupo ’11 and an experienced offensive line (three senior starters), complemented by a dual-quarterback attack of passing threat Pat Moffitt ’11 and running threat Matt Coyne ’12 (the latter of whom is almost guaranteed to be involved in some sort of trick play this game). Moffitt and Coyne have two large targets in J.C. Stickney ’12 (emerging as the next superstar receiver at Williams) and captain / inspirational leader Nick Caro ’10 [this just in: Caro will not play due to injury, a big loss for the Ephs]. The X-factor / big-play guy for the Ephs is super-speedy “slash” Bryce Bennett ’11, who came into Williams as a quarterback and is now a KR/WR/RB/QB. The Ephs will need at least one big play from Bennett to beat the ‘Hurst. Amherst’s rushing attack has been uncharacteristically ineffective this year, but they’ve compensated with an offense that can throw to a deep stable of fast and tall receivers. They are so deep at that position that you really can’t key on any one guy, but speedster Andre Gary ’11 gave the Ephs fits last year, Brandon Bullock ’10 has big play capability as well, and twins Andrew and Will Reed ’12 have both emerged as go-to players in recent weeks. Amherst’s QB duo mirrors that of the Ephs, as they also start an experienced junior (Alex Vetras ’11) who handles the bulk of the passing duties, along with a mobile sophomore (Brian McMahon ’12) who provides a spark off the bench.

If the Ephs have an edge other than at running back, it is on special teams, where Williams has the best kicker (Scott Sobolewski ’10) and punter (Will Cronin ’10) in NESCAC. For Williams to win, it will have to turn the game into a physical battle up front to gradually wear down Amherst’s smaller, faster front seven, shut down Amherst’s running attack completely so they are forced to be one-dimensional on offense, and win the field position battle behind its experienced kickers. Go Ephs!

Miscellaneous game notes:

  • New England legend Doug Flutie will be the color man for the game. Speaking of local legends, one name on the Amherst roster that will be familiar to New England football die-hards is special teams ace Gordie Lockbaum, son of the Holy Cross legend and former Heisman candidate.
  • NESN has an interview with Eph coach Mike Whalen here.
  • Check out this great story on Dave “The Tank” Shawan ’72, creator of “The Walk”

    The Walk in 1971. Photo by Gregg Peterson.

    The Walk in 1971. Photo by Gregg Peterson.


Amherst Recieves $125 Million in Donations

From the turncoats to the east:

Two graduates of Amherst College have pledged separate gifts of $100 million and $25 million to their alma mater, it was announced Tuesday. The two gifts are the largest in the history of Amherst College, and the $100 million pledge is believed to be the largest unrestricted cash gift ever to a liberal arts college.

1) Frank Uible ’57 writes, “hwc: Do these two gifts save Amherst’s financial bacon?” Excellent question! One issue is determining whether or not these gifts were already factored in to Amherst’s $425 million comprehensive campaign, which started last year. If they were — if, that is, Amherst already knew about these gifts, was, indeed, counting on them to make the $425 million target, then they don’t really tell us much. If Williams can raise over $500 million in its recent campaign, then getting “just” $425 million is not overly impressive, especially if you are committed to increasing the size of the student body with lower income students. But, if these gifts came out of nowhere, then they represent a huge win for Amherst.

2) Williams collected no (?) large donations as a part of its recent capital campaign, even though the official targets sought multiple gifts over $25 million. Why wasn’t Williams able to snag any very large donations?

3) From a purely economic point of view, perhaps the worst aspect of Morty’s departure was his failure to seal the deal on a $100 million gift from any of the richest alumni whom he had spent the previous decade building relationships with. Greg Avis, Jon Kraft and others — judging from their public comments about Morty — were all huge fans. But Morty can’t ask them for money anymore, unless it is for Northwestern. We will never know how much money Morty cost Williams by leaving, just so he could become cheerleader-in-chief at a Division 1 school.


Amherst Opens Door to Gitmo Detainees?

Well, you don’t see this every day.

Under a petition Hooke submitted to the town’s Select Board – approved by a 2-1 vote Monday night – the town will call on Congress to rescind its ban on detainees resettling in the United States, and will welcome Ahmed Belbacha, originally from Algeria, and Ravil Mingazov, arrested in Pakistan, to Amherst. The measure will go before a Special Town Meeting on Nov. 2.

Bold.  Clearly, Amherst College is suffering from some strain of NESCAC Resettlement Envy. Textbook case.   It’s worth noting, too, that the question of whether federal judges have the authority to order detainees released into the USA will go before the Supreme Court this term.  It’s quite possible that the Congressional ban would be affected by that ruling.  Whether Belbacha and Mingazov would even have a strong case for getting into the states under any circumstances (as opposed to the Uighers) is also unclear.

Or, of course, the measure could be purely symbolic.

“This is a typical Amherst thing to do,’’ said Jonathan Tucker, the town’s planning director. “Amherst has a long history of engaging in foreign policy, and it’s not out of character for a New England town to believe it has as much a right to weigh in on foreign policy as the federal or state governments.’”

If detainees end up ever end up being released into the United States, would Williamstown attempt to get in on some resettlement action?


Student Blogging as College PR

There’s an article in The New York Times this morning (“M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to the Nth Degree“) that discusses how colleges are using student blogs to publicize life at the college and entice prospects. It notes:

Dozens of colleges — including Amherst, Bates, Carleton, Colby, Vassar, Wellesley and Yale — are embracing student blogs on their Web sites, seeing them as a powerful marketing tool for high school students, who these days are less interested in official messages and statistics than in first-hand narratives and direct interaction with current students.

Notice that Williams isn’t mentioned.

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Athletics Roundup: Rivalry Edition

The Ephs had an incredibly impressive road sweep at Colby this weekend, with men’s and women’s soccer both winning in dominating fashion, and women’s field hockey and football eeking out victories.  The come-from-behind football victory, which allowed captain Simon Kloeckner to claim bragging rights over his high school teammate (and Colby’s captain) Roger Bel, was particularly dramatic: co-quarterback Matt Coyne scoring the winning touchdown with only one minute remaining.  But last weekend was just a warm-up for the huge rivalry Saturday ahead:

  • Football will go from heavy favorite against Colby to big underdog against a Trinity squad that hasn’t lost since 2007.  Most years, the winner of Williams-Trinity takes the NESCAC, and there have been some outright classic games in the rivalry, including the last two meetings (both of which, unfortunately, just barely went Trinity’s way).  Williams ended Trinity’s 31 game winning streak in 2006, and they hope to end Trinity’s current impressive streaks (11 game winning streak, 31-0 record on its home field since it was resurfaced) Saturday. How many points did Williams score in Trinity’s last home loss (in, gulp, 2001): you guessed it.  Perhaps 31 will prove unlucky thrice for Trinity?    Watch here to find out if the Ephs can stun the Bantam juggernaut.  But it won’t be easy: Coach Whalen is an incredible 32-4 against non-Trinity teams, but only 1-4 against Trinity … and that’s doing better over the past five years than most of his colleagues.
  • Seventh-ranked men’s soccer looks to snap a two game losing streak against Amherst’s very talented team, which made the NCAA final four last season.
  • Third-ranked women’s soccer has only one blemish on its regular season record over the past three years: a tie vs. Amherst last year.  They will have to play very well to avenge that tie and top the fourteenth-ranked Amherst squad on the road.  The all-time series is currently dead even, so the winner can claim bragging rights (for now) in the rivalry.
  • Field hockey plays Amherst in what looks like a very even match-up.
  • In women’s tennis, Amherst will be looking to avenge last year’s national championship defeat against Williams in what could be a preview of another championship showdown in 2010.
  • Women’s volleyball, which is off to a great start, plays Amherst on Friday to jump-start the weekend.  They are raising money for Dig Pink in conjunction with this game.
  • Special bonus: check out this great promo for Eph sports videos.  Watch carefully at 0:14 for a shot of one of our favorite Ephbloggers.

Williams Tops Amherst, Again …

granted, the victory comes courtesy of a random blog’s “Rival Rundown,” and the criteria is decidedly, errrr, idiosyncratic, but a win’s a win.


Amherst Swimming

A recent article in Swimming World Magazine profiles Amherst Swimming with a reference to their chief rival here:

We talk about the Ephs like the evil empire, but in reality, I think that the rivalry is borne out of respect and the similarities between the schools.


Amherst, Trinity Among Nation’s Most Douche

Bravely wading through any number of potential pot-kettle issues, Gentlemen’s Quarterly presents to its readers a feature for the ages: “America’s 25 Douchiest Colleges.”  You can see it here on GQ’s Web site in all its glory, or to get a look at how it ran in the magazine, check here.

The question isn’t whether you’re a douche bag when you go to college. We were all kind of douche bags when we went to college, if we’re going to be honest about it. No, the question for America’s youth is: What kind of douche bag do you aspire to be?

First of all, speak for yourself, GQ.  Second, um, what?  Most folks aspire to no such thing.  (As always, there are some exceptions.)

Third, at the very least they got it right.  Trinity cracks the list at No. 21, but the kicker is Amherst at No.7, though the rationale doesn’t exactly do us any favors.

Home of: The “I Went to a Small liberal-arts College in Massachusetts” Douche
Affectations: Quiet sense of superiority; intense desire to be surrounded by 1,700 people almost exactly like you; Choate soccer jacket.
In ten years, will be: Smart policy guy at State Department that no one listens to.
Douchey mascot: Lord Jeffrey Amherst.
Problem with douchey mascot: Distributed smallpox-infested blankets to Native Americans.

Hmm.  Good form on the bioterrorism reference, I suppose.  The cynics among us may claim that this is simply a name recognition problem for Williams, but I like to think GQ is onto something.


Football, Football, and more Football

Like a man crawling through the desert spying the oasis ahead, the approach of football season both tempts and taunts me.   If you are among the sad few for whom football is of no interest, I urge you to stop here, and save yourself from the remainder of this post.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned.  For those intrepid souls who wish to continue, the post continues below the break.

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Unholy Alliance

Pittsburgh Pirates’ GM / Amherst alum Neal Huntington is the target of some mockery in this article:

In a span of two non-waiver trade deadlines, the Pirates packed off All-Stars (Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez), fan favorites (Nate McLouth, Jack Wilson and Nyjer Morgan), bench pieces (Eric Hinske and Jose Bautista), underachievers (Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell) and useful bullpen arms (Damaso Marte and John Grabow).

They traded away 16 players with about 28 years of contractual control remaining for 29 players with almost 170 years of contractual control. We know this because they actually made a spreadsheet with all the details.

Now that the transactional dust has settled, Doumit and pitchers Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Matt Capps and Evan Meek are the only 25-man-roster holdovers from 2008. And the Pirates’ makeover is eliciting the inevitable potshots from scouts who can’t resist poking fun at general manager Neal Huntington’s Amherst pedigree and Coonelly’s former role as a lead lawyer for Major League Baseball.

“What’s Neal trying to do there — build a Division III team in his own image?” said a scout for an NL club.

Huntington’s boss, Eph alum Bob Nutting, is likewise eviscerated — but leave it to his Amherst subordinate to come to his defense:

Much of the discontent over the Pirates’ latest rebuild has been directed at owner Bob Nutting, who has been vilified by fans for pocketing MLB’s revenue-sharing money and foisting an inferior product on the ticket-buying public. If anything, Coonelly and Huntington say Nutting has been slammed unfairly, giving his unflagging support for their long-term vision.

Coonelly expects the Pirates to rank among the top five in MLB in spending on amateur draft bonuses for the second straight year. The team has tripled its spending on Latin American bonuses from less than a million in 2007 to $3 million last year. Management hopes those investments will significantly upgrade a farm system that was rated the 18th-best in the game by Baseball America this year, after three straight years at No. 25.

“This is the plan that Neal and I have implemented, and we’re very fortunate to have an owner in Bob who understands the vision we have,” Coonelly said. “He’s willing to take the unfortunate public backlash which is often directed at owners when you’re making baseball decisions that have to be made to put a team in position to win. Bob has supported us even though he knew, and we knew, that he would bear the brunt of any criticism.”

As the article notes, the Pirates are taking a long-term approach, and  only time will tell if the unholy alliance between Eph and Jeff will pay dividends.  But as of right now, the Pirates are the laughingstock of the league (albeit, a league in which it is virtually impossible to thrive as a small market club — MLB should take some lessons from the NFL one of these days ….), as evidenced by a member of the putrid Washington Nationals taking a potshot:

It’s tough to maintain a cheery outlook while playing for a team that’s headed for its 17th straight losing season and has the pole position on an 18th. “They’re the laughingstock of baseball right now,” former Pirates reliever Sean Burnett told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. “They’ve gotten rid of everybody.”

Still, if Hunting and Nutting can conspire to achieve the impossible — turn a small market MLB team into a consistent winner — it may set a very dangerous precedent for Eph-Jeff collaborations going forward.  John Sayles directing a Dan Brown adaptation?  Anything is possible …

Much of the discontent over the Pirates’ latest rebuild has been directed at owner Bob Nutting, who has been vilified by fans for pocketing MLB’s revenue-sharing money and foisting an inferior product on the ticket-buying public. If anything, Coonelly and Huntington say Nutting has been slammed unfairly, giving his unflagging support for their long-term vision.

Coonelly expects the Pirates to rank among the top five in MLB in spending on amateur draft bonuses for the second straight year. The team has tripled its spending on Latin American bonuses from less than a million in 2007 to $3 million last year. Management hopes those investments will significantly upgrade a farm system that was rated the 18th-best in the game by Baseball America this year, after three straight years at No. 25.

“This is the plan that Neal and I have implemented, and we’re very fortunate to have an owner in Bob who understands the vision we have,” Coonelly said. “He’s willing to take the unfortunate public backlash which is often directed at owners when you’re making baseball decisions that have to be made to put a team in position to win. Bob has supported us even though he knew, and we knew, that he would bear the brunt of any criticism.”


Tales from the Darkside

So, I attended Amherst’s Commencement this weekend … thought I’d share a few tidbits:

— Overall, like Williams, Amherst is incredibly well-run, and the school put on a memorable weekend for all involved.

— Common theme from every speaker throughout the weekend: predictably, the economy.  Kind of got depressing after awhile, actually.  I felt that, while certainly the collapse and its implications needed to be acknowledged, it was overemphasized.  The only person who achieved the proper balance in my view was the student class speaker, who noted the economy but still made his speech primarily about the Amherst experience.  (He is a tour guide, and employed a very clever framing device in which he reflected on truths and lies told on the Amherst tour.  That also yielded the best line of his speech, something to the effect of, I’ve given the Amherst spiel so many times that I could almost recite it walking backwards …).

— Speaking of which, the seniors all listened to brief auditions for class speaker prior to voting on the winning orator.  The winner was, I imagine not coincidentally, outstanding (despite noting that “Williams College is a horrible college,” a reference to a t-shirt I observed on more than one occasion on campus).  This is an idea Williams should steal.

— On the topic of stealing ideas, Amherst stole Williams’ Olmstead Awards idea (Amherst has been awarding these for 12 years, Williams for 25).  To add insult to injury, Amherst named its version of these awards for Zephenia Swift Moore.  But, if Amherst is going to steal something, this is definitely something worth stealing.

— There is, however, no outside speaker, just the college President.  That went, ummm, far less spectacularly.  (The first ten minutes of the speech involved a Cliffs-notes recap of the financial crisis, followed by the President’s opining that individual greed rather than collective responsibility was responsible — yes, it really was that platitudinous.  He officially lost the crowd about two minutes in ….).

— There is no equivalent to the student-centric Ivy Exercises, which I thought was a shame.  Like Williams, Amherst does have a Baccalaureate Service (which, as one might expect from a NESCAC school, was sufficiently politically correct and featured a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Orthodox, and non-believer component).

— Random senior class tradition: each senior received a wooden walking cane for graduation — which led to the odd sight of a huge number of 22 year-olds employing those canes later that afternoon, not to mention the equally odd sight of bunch of canes going through metal detectors at the airport later that evening.  Of course I am biased, but I think the watch-dropping kicks that particular tradition in the butt :) …

— Coolest thing by far at Amherst: its Museum of Natural History.  The brand new building is spectacular (not to mention the only noteworthy contemporary building on campus), and the contents are even more spectacular.  Definitely worth a visit if in the area.  On the other hand, I’d skip the art museum, which (predictably) is far, far inferior to the WCMA.

— Most impressive thing about the physical plant: the dorms.  All of the frosh dorms are newly renovated and are incredible, one in particular which used to house the prior incarnation of the Natural History Museum and resembles a ski lodge at Vail.  Any tour going through the most newly-renovated frosh dorm is sure to come away impressed.  Amherst has also recently constructed two huge, gorgeous upperclassmen dorms, both with spectacular views.

— Least impressive thing about the physical plant: everything else.  Amherst is way, WAY behind Williams in terms of its non-dorm facilities.  The Amherst student center is definitely looking worse for wear (stylistically, it reminded me of the interior and new addition to Hopkins — unsurprising considering the buildings were built at the same time — only a lot shabbier).  Paresky absolutely destroys its interior, both aesthetically and in terms of functionality, and I actually prefer the Paresky exterior as well (the Amherst exterior is not nearly as daring or ostentatious as Paresky, so some might prefer it, but it is boring and the design is not aging well at ALL).  There is, moreover, no Goodrich equivalent so far as I can tell.  The main Amherst library is in even worse shape than Sawyer, believe it or not.  The lone dining hall on campus doesn’t come close to matching Williams’ dining facilities / options.  The science complex seems to approximate Williams’ science complex prior to the construction of the Unified Science Center.  Other than the building that houses the Natural History Museum, none of the academic buildings struck me as particularly impressive.  Amherst is in the middle of a fund raising drive, which I learned will support major renovations to its science and library complexes, but Williams is definitely WAY ahead in terms of physical plant needs in all areas but for dorms (and even when it comes to dorms, Williams is in MUCH better relative shape, as Williams has recently renovated most of its dorms, just not to the spectacular degree as Amherst).  I imagine to do the job right, Amherst will have to spend nearly as much on renovating its library as Williams’ remaining obligation on the new Sawyer.  And that still leaves Amherst with massive prospective outlays on crucial student life and science facilities if it hopes to keep up with the Williamses.

(*NB: I realize some on this blog have recently opined that physical plant expenditures contribute little to the educational experience; I am not trying to argue either way here, but rather simply make an observation.  Also, I don’t think the different levels of physical plant outlays reflect a difference in philosophy between the institutions, but rather a difference in timing.  Because the new buildings Amherst has constructed / gut-renovated are just as over-the-top luxurious as the newer buildings on the Williams campus).

— It would be very, very difficult to distinguish (without the aid of t-shirt slogans) a group of 20 random Amherst students vs. 20 random Williams students.  The only SLIGHT difference I noted is that there seemed to be a bit more of a stark divide, both in appearance and socialization, between jocks and non-jocks at Amherst, while at Williams there might be a bit more of a continuum.  But perhaps that observation was influenced by my preconceived notion on that point.

— Amherst’s senior class t-shirt: I Survived Swine Flu.  Awesome.

— There is no single location on Williams’ campus that is nearly as gorgeous or memorable as Amherst’s enormous, impressive central quad.  (Although I do believe Williams’ campus will at least finally have a similar true functional and aesthetic “center” between Stetson and Paresky once the Stetston-Sawyer project is completed).  But the Williams campus feels larger and less cloistered, is more interesting / diverse in terms of architectural styles, and offers a far greater variety of  noteworthy settings (Berkshire Quad, the row houses, the science quad, Mission Park area) than Amherst, which outside of the absolutely stunning main quad area, felt sort of like a closely-clumped and randomly arranged afterthought.  Without a doubt, the difference in architectural styles mirrors the difference in mascots and school colors: the Williams campus feels open, quirky, and fun, whereas Amherst’s feels traditional, impressive, and stuffy.  On the other hand, Amherst does not have to deal with Route 2, which is a huge plus.  In terms of natural surroundings, Amherst features one jaw-droppingly gorgeous view.  Williams, of course, features such views from almost everywhere on campus …

— Back on the topic of speakers, given that Clarence Otis is a businessman, his forthcoming address is expected to — and I am sure will — hit on the economy, but I hope that he and other speakers are not AS overwhelmingly focused on present economic conditions, and also discuss broader aspects of the Williams experience and the long-term future for graduates.  The last thing everyone in attendance needs is yet another sobering reminder of just how much the graduates’ lives are about to suck.


Eph Hoops: Rivalry Edition

Williams and Amherst face off in a huge hoops doubleheader in Chandler Gym on Saturday.  Last year I posted all you need to know about the intense hoops rivalry between these school.  You can watch both games (along with the Williams-Amherst swimming battle scheduled for the same day) live on the internet; check here for details.  Swimming should also be a great match-up as, in both men’s and women’s swimming, Williams and Amherst fight tooth and nail for the conference title on an annual basis.

Williams will be looking to pull major upsets in both contests, as both Amherst squads are ranked in the top ten nationally.  Williams is stronger than its record indicates in both sports.  The men’s basketball team (10-3) has been very banged up, and all three losses took place without starting junior center Joe Geoghegan.  He, along with senior Kevin Snyder and junior Blake Schultz, form a potent trio of three year starters for the Ephs.  Amherst (9-1 after last night’s dramatic last second upset loss to Wesleyan) counters with a characteristically deep and athletic squad, led by all-American senior Brian Baskauskas.  Amherst, the big dog of the Little Three for the last five years, will be very fired up after being embarassed by a bad Wesleyan team.

The Eph women are led by reigning NESCAC player of the week Mika Peterman.  The women’s team starts three frosh, including star frosh point guard Jill Greenberg, a former Boston Globe all-scholastic selection.  After a rough start, the young squad is starting to come together, having won three of its last fives, with the only losses coming on the road to strong teams.  Amherst’s stellar new women’s coach G.P. Gromacki turned the Amherst program around in a hurry last year, breaking a long losing streak against the Ephs and bringing his team deep into the NCAA tournament in his first season.  Good luck to both Eph squads, and in particular to new hoops coach Mike Maker as he gets his first taste of the Williams-Amherst rivalry.

Note: updated with links to Saturday’s webcast and to a replay of Wesleyan’s incredible game winner against Amherst.


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