Men's Basketball 1999-2000 Season Preview
An exciting combination of old and new presents itself in the Lord Jeff Program this year. Coach Hixon believes that this combination will spell success in a big way.
Leading the way will be four outstanding seniors. Co-Captains Chris Smith (6'4", Swarthmore, PA) and Hugh Quattlebaum (6'3", Andover, MA) lead the way with their athleticism and competitiveness. Joining them will be seniors Pat Mulvey (6'3", Rye, NH) and Jackson Collins (6'5", Queens, NY). This is the most athletic group to lead the Jeffs in Hixon's tenure. Mulvey, as explosive a scorer as there is in New England, can score inside and out, while Collins is known for his inside play, rebounding and crowd-inspiring dunks.
Right behind the seniors is a group of three juniors that bring a lot to the table for the Jeffs. Brian Daoust (5'9", Dover, MA), who also leads the Jeffs as a football captain, returns as the odds on favorite to run the point. Daoust, who can run the show and score, is joined by classmate Erik Kelly (6'1", Staples, MN) in forming a formidable junior backcourt. Kelly, an exceptional shooter, has hit for as many as seven times in a big game in only 22 minutes. The third junior, Abe Sexson (6'8", Athens, Greece), is becoming a force in the paint. Coach Hixon is expecting big things from Abe this season.
With six returning sophomores, the Jeffs will have great competition for minutes. Chris Keane (6'6" Oradell, NJ), Paul Williams (6'5", Franklin, MA) and Patrick Taverna (6'4" Clinton, NY) all showed great potential and will help in the size department. Michael Proctor (6'0", Vero Beach, FL) can score and showed good movement last year.
Joining this talented group is a frosh crop Coach Hixon thinks might be the best ever to come into Amherst in his tenure. With a player in each position, the young and talented group is led by Pat Fitzsimons (6'8", Durham, NC), Steve Zieja (6'5", Hadley, MA), Ryan Faulkner (5'10", Lebanon, NH), Bill Krause (6'4", Orinda, CA) and Sulaimin Jenkins (6'3", Brooklyn, NY). All of these players attained great status in their respective areas and high school programs.
Needless to say, competition in pre-season will be intense, but when the dust settles, the Jeffs should put a terrific squad on the floor in November. All of this told, the Jeffs hope to make a run at a second straight Little Three and a post-season bid back to the NCAAs.
Men's Basketball Program History
Amherst College has always enjoyed an outstanding national reputation for its impressive academic tradition and educational standards. For the past nine years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Amherst among the top two liberal arts colleges in the nation, and Amherst's athletic teams have exhibited a similar quality against their New England Division III rivals.
With a tradition of strong programs, Amherst basketball teams have followed suit. Under the direction of Head Coach David Hixon, the Lord Jeffs have won seven Little Three titles, earned 13 ECAC tournament invitations and two NCAA bids. They have consistently placed among the top-ranked teams in Division III New England in the past 10 years.
Six seasons ago, with the NESCAC president's approval of NCAA post-season competition, the Lord Jeffs (ranked # 1 in New England) not only earned a tournament berth but advanced into the third round, the "Elite Eight",of the NCAA Tournament before losing to the eventual national champions. The Jeffs finished that season with a school-record 22 wins and only five losses, an achievement made more impressive by the fact that they had played 17 games on the road and only 10 at home. The Jeffs went on to win back-to-back ECAC Championships in 1995 and 1996, bringing Amherst's total to four ECAC Titles and tying the program with one other school for the most in New England. Amherst followed up in 1997 with its second invitation to the NCAA Tournament, where the Jeffs concluded their season in the Sweet Sixteen with a 21-5 record after shattering seven team and individual records during the course of the year.
In the 1998 season the Jeffs came out of the gate at 13-0 and a #3 ranking in the country, only to finish 20-5 and earn another ECAC Tournament bid. The squad earned victories over both Williams and Trinity (two NCAA bid teams).
Last season the Jeffs finished 16-9 and garnered two, its first outright Little Three title in 10 years by beating Williams twice. The Jeffs suprised everyone in New England by giving the Ephs their first loss of the season by a resounding 23 points in Williamstown.
Although the team graduates three starters and four of the top seven players, they are optimistic about the upcoming season and have great hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament.