Zieja & Fitzsimons Earn All-NESCAC Honors
February 27, 2002
Zieja was a first-team selection after earning Second-Team All-NESCAC honors as a sophomore. The tri-captain, who was named both the NESCAC and ECAC Player of the Week on Monday, is currently fourth in the conference in scoring (18.1 ppg), fifth in free throw percentage (79.2%) and ninth in rebounding (7.1 rpg). Zieja already cracked the career 1,000-point and 500-rebound plateaus earlier this season and is rapidly climbing Amherst's all-time scoring list. His 1,173 career points (through Sunday) are 11th all-time at Amherst, with the school record of 1,550 career points - set by Jamal Wilson '97 - well within his reach.
Zieja saved perhaps his best performance for the Jeffs' recent three-game sweep in the NESCAC Tournament, averaging 25.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in victories over Bowdoin, Williams and Trinity Colleges. In the title game against top-seeded Trinity, the six-foot-five power forward torched the Bantams for a game-high 32 points, including 21 in the first half, scoring 10 straight during an early 17-6 Amherst run. He also posted a double-double 29-point, 10-rebound performance in the Jeffs' 71-61 quarterfinal win over Bowdoin, and added 14 points in a 69-62 semifinal win over Williams.
Meanwhile, Fitzsimons - Amherst's second leading scorer and the conference's fourth-leading rebounder at 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game - was a second-team selection and is clearly one of the best big-men in the NESCAC. The six-foot-eight center also leads the NESCAC in blocked shots (2.7/gm.) and field goal percentage (67.7%) and has a team-high 10 double-doubles on the season, including two in the NESCAC Tournament.
Like Zieja, Fitzsimons has already topped - or is rapidly approaching - a number of career and single-season milestones. His 757 career points through Sunday place him 29th on Amherst's all-time list, and his current 2001-02 totals for blocks (72) and field goal percentage (67.7%) are both school records. He also shattered a single-game school record with 10 blocks - en route to his first career triple-double - in an 86-75 win at NCAA Tournament qualifier Lassell College on January 22nd, and his 21 rebounds against Tufts University as a sophomore were just one shy of the College's all-time mark.
Amherst drew one of 16 first-round byes in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and will host a second-round game this Saturday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Thursday's first-round matchup between Salem State College and Western Connecticut State University. The Jeffs, now 21-6 overall and owners of a six-game winning streak, are making their fifth overall trip to the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Amherst downed visiting St. John Fisher College, 89-76, in the NCAA first round, followed by an 89-76 second-round loss at Clark University.
Elsewhere in the NESCAC, senior guard Colin Tabb of Trinity was named the conference's Player of the Year. Tabb, a repeat first-team selection, averaged a conference-best 24.8 points per game and added 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.0 steals, while leading the NESCAC in free throw percentage (86.8%) and helping the Bantams earn the top seed in the NESCAC tournament and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Senior guard Leo Jones of Wesleyan earned first-team honors for the third consecutive year. Jones averaged 20.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per game in the regular season and then led the Cardinals to the semifinals of the conference tournament. Senior guard Mizan Ayers of Connecticut College earned first-team honors and was named the 2001-02 Defensive Player of the Year. Ayers averaged 14.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and a conference-leading 2.3 steals per game.
Rounding out the first team was senior guard Damien Strahorn of Colby. He averaged 22.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game while hitting 82 three-pointers and shooting 81.7 percent from the free throw line. Craig Coupe of Tufts was named the conference Rookie of the Year. Coupe averaged 11.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. Lynn Ramage of Connecticut was named the Coach of the Year after leading the Camels to a 6-3 conference record and the third seed in the NESCAC tournament.
2001-02 All-NESCAC Men's Basketball Team
Mizan Ayers - Connecticut
Leo Jones - Wesleyan
Damien Strahorn - Colby
Colin Tabb - Trinity
Steve Zieja - Amherst
Drew DeMuth - Williams
Bryan Dion - Trinity
Pat Fitzsimons - Amherst
Mike McGlynn - Tufts
Alex Wilson - Bates
NESCAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Colin Tabb - Trinity
NESCAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mizan Ayers - Connecticut
NESCAC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Craig Coupe - Tufts
NESCAC COACH OF THE YEAR
Lynn Ramage - Connecticut