1997-98 Amherst Men's Basketball Outlook
Coming off a record-breaking year and the program's second-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Amherst men's basketball looks to repeat this feat, though with a very different looking team. "We have to play much better basketball this year," noted David Hixon '75, Amherst's winningest basketball coach ever with a 316-171 record over 20 seasons. "There are no dynamic individuals to rely on, so we have to play much more as a team. The scoring and rebounding will be more balanced, so each player has to make each other better."
The Jeffs' most significant loss is Jamal Wilson, who graduated as Amherst's all-time leading scorer and with the single game, season and career three-point records. Contesting Wilson's records will be senior Tri-Captain John Pavelski (17.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 apg), currently 10th on the all-time scoring list with 1.086 points and just 43 treys short of Wilson's three-point career. Pavelski's versatility on both the inside and the perimeter opens up scoring opportunities for fellow captains Julian "Bubba" Rowand (7.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg) and Billy Skorupski (8.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Three players will battle for time at the point guard position. Juniors Caith Chapman (2.0 ppg, 1.7 apg) and Mark MacLeod (1.9 ppg, 1.4 apg) will be challenged by Erik Kelly, who is expected to make an impact both running the offense and shooting from behind the arc. Good depth at the 2 and 3 positions will see fresh legs rotating into the game in the likes of Rowand, Kelly, junior Chris Ingraham (3.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and sophomores Peter Denby (1.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg), Pat Mulvey (5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.2 apg) and Hugh Quattlebaum (3.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg). Pavelski leads an experienced crew of power forwards that include junior Charles Field (3.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and sophomore Chris Smith (1.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg). Playing the big man will be Skorupski, along with junior Josh Anish (2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg) and rookies Abe Sexson and Matt Rygler.
The 1997-98 season marks the NESCAC's inaugural year as a playing conference.