Men's Basketball Begins Defense of National Title
Issue   |   Wed, 11/13/2013 - 01:59
Rob Mattson, Public Affairs Office
Reigning DIII Player of the Year Aaron Toomey '14 will lead the Jeffs.

There are few ways to diminish the accomplishments of the historic 2012-13 campaign that saw the Amherst men’s basketball team win it all.

The team won 24 straight contests to finish the year, the highlight of which was undoubtedly a thrilling, one-point win over Williams in the NESCAC Championship.

After another four wins in the NCAA tournament, their final victory, an 87-70 rout of Mary Hardin Baylor, was merely the icing on the cake.

Lost in the glory of the national title was the fact that the Jeffs captured their second straight NESCAC title and ran their conference record to 26-0 over the past two years.

In every imaginable sense, the most recent edition of the Jeffs was simply dominant.

Additionally, they moved their coach, Dave Hixon ’75, to within seven wins of the milestone of 700 career victories.
And, despite all that, the Jeffs will begin the season with a blank slate, motivated as ever and knowing that defending a title is one of the toughest tasks in sports.

As always, the returning group will have a different look — most notably, Class of 2013 standouts Pete Kaasila, Willy Workman and Allen Williamson have ended their collegiate careers. Still, there is plenty of talent coming back to LeFrak.
For the third year in a row, Aaron Toomey ’14 will be the de facto leader of the team. To say the least, Toomey has the talent to go along with his leadership skills — he is the reigning National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Player of the Year, and he was also named NESCAC Player of the Year and a first-team Div. III All-American.

Opposing teams will have their hands full with Toomey, but they will also have to contend with Tom Killian ’14, the Jeffs’ other returning starter.

Killian is coming off a junior season in which he started all 28 of the Jeffs’ games and proved he could provide the team with valuable versatility.

At the other spots on the floor, the Jeffs will tap into their abundant youth, which includes seven first-years and promising sophomores such as Connor Green, Ben Pollack and Danny Curtis.

The Jeffs were also incredibly successful on the recruiting trail as they brought in a class headlined by David George ’17 and Reid Berman ’17.

Schedule-wise, the Jeffs have a familiar climb ahead of them. They will tip off on Saturday, Nov. 16, and their first ten games are non-conference tests.

The season begins in earnest with the start of NESCAC play on Jan. 10, when the Jeffs play host to Hamilton.

In recent years, the road to the league title has tended to go through Trinity, Middlebury and Williams, so those games will be the most anticipated of the regular season.

Amherst hosts the Ephs on Jan. 11 and travels to Williamstown for a rematch on Jan. 22; shortly thereafter (Jan. 25), they will face a road test against Trinity.

This year, they will square off against the Panthers in the regular-season finale on Feb. 16.

NESCAC Playoffs begin on Feb. 22 with the championship game scheduled for March 2.

The national tournament, should the Jeffs reach it, is slated to begin on March 7.