Men’s Basketball Seeks to Replace Much of Last Season’s Firepower
Issue   |   Tue, 10/24/2017 - 23:01

The Amherst men’s basketball team returns to the court this season with high hopes, despite having just graduated eight seniors. These seniors had formed the core of an Amherst squad that made it to four consecutive NCAA tournaments, including two Final Fours. They had also domianted the team leader-board in most statistical categories. Although the squad as a whole is smaller this year than it had been in past years, coach David Hixon said they are excited about the challenge that this will bring.

Further complicating an already difficult situation is a change in the Mammoths’ coaching staff. Due to Kevin Hopkins taking a head coaching job at Muhlenburg College, the team hired Amherst alumnus and former captain Adam Hutchison ’93 to fill the assistant coach position.

However, the team has welcomed five first-years to hopefully fill the spots of the graduating seniors. They include Grant Robinson, Garrett Day, Fru Che, Timmy McCarthy and Griffin Gerwig.

“I’m excited about the season and to see what we will be able to accomplish as a team,” Gerwig said. “Our team chemistry is great, and I think we’ll have a lot of fun throughout the season. I’m really looking forward to a great season.”

This year, the team will be led by senior captains Johnny McCarthy and Michael Riopel. Last season, McCarthy averaged 14.2 points, eight rebounds and two assists a game.

Riopel was similarly key to Amherst’s offense, averaging 10.2 points, four rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

The sole other returning player who averaged over five minutes per game last season is sophomore Eric Sellew. Sellew played just over nine minutes per game last season, and he averaged 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. This season, Sellew will look to improve his statistics with an increase in playing time.

Apart from Sellew, Hixon will largely look to untested players to fill the shoes of Eric Conklin and David George who were dominant in the low post for the Mammoths. The list of potential replacements includes interior players Joe Schneider ’19 and CJ Bachmann ’19, who hopes to finally get serious minutes. Che is also a big man who will compete for playing time down low.

On the perimeter, there are six players who will be battling it out for minutes. These outside players include Dylan Groff ’19 and a trio of sophomores — Josh Cherry, Stephen Clapp and Tommy Mobley. First-years McCarthy and Gerwig will also be vying for playing time, either on the wings or at one of the guard spots.

At the all-important position of point guard, the Mammoths return almost no one with experience thanks to the departures of seniors Reid Berman and Jayde Dawson. This will open the door for Vic Sinopli ’19, Robinson and Day, all of whom have aspirations to run the Amherst offense.

The Mammoths will return to the court on Wednesday, Nov. 1 to begin practice and will open their season with a home game on Friday, Nov. 17 against Sarah Lawrence College at 6 p.m.