Men’s Basketball Returns Majority of Last Season’s Final-Four Squad
Issue   |   Thu, 11/10/2016 - 23:57

After last season’s remarkable successes, including a 26-6 overall record, a second place at the NESCAC tournament and a berth in the NCAA Division III final four, the Amherst men’s basketball team heads into this season with high hopes.

Though the team lost Connor Green ’16, the program’s second all-time leading scorer, and Ben Pollack ’16, who provided significant moral leadership from the bench, this year’s senior class is more than capable up picking up the slack. The seven-man-strong class of 2017 is anchored by the twin pillars: seniors Jeff Racy and David George. Racy paced the purple and white’s prolific offense last season, average 3.0 made three pointers per game and shooting 48.7 percent from beyond the arc. George, meanwhile, led the Amherst defense with an impressive 2.1 blocks per game and is team’s highest returning rebounder, averaging over six a game.

The purple and white also will rely on Eric Conklin ’17, whose 8.1 points and 4.1 rebounds will provide much-needed front-court depth, Reid Berman ’17, last year’s leader with over four assists in just 15 minutes per game and Jacob Nabatoff ’17, whose athleticism and well-rounded game will help fill in the team’s cracks.

Though considerably smaller, the junior class will be just as essential to the team’s success with Jayde Dawson ’18 likely reprising his role as the team’s starting point guard and Johnny McCarthy ’18 looking to replace Green as the team’s offensive catalyst after scoring 13.0 points per game last campaign. Michael Riopel ’18 also figures to play prominently into coach David Hixson’s plans for the 2016-17 campaign.

Although last year’s first-years got minimal playing time, Vic Sinopoli ’19, C.J. Backmann ’19, Dylan Groff ’19 and Joe Schneider ’19 all will likely play bigger roles in this season. The purple and white also hopes to get production from the incoming first-years, including three guards, Stephen Clapp ’20, Tommy Mobley ’20, Josh Chery ’20 and forward Eric Sellew ’20. All four first-years excelled through high school, each scoring more than 1,000 points over the course of their four years. Sellew was also named 2015-2016 Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year.

The purple and white begin this season hosting the Ken Wright ’52 tournament over the first weekend of Thanksgiving break. The first match of the tournament pits Amherst against Green Mountain on Friday, Nov. 18 at 6 pm.