Dan Wheeler '07
Photo by Erik Andrews '09
Junior forward Dan Wheeler has been instrumental in the Jeffs' NCAA Tourney run, averaging 20.7 points per game.

Jeffs Prepare for NCAA Final Four Matchup with Wittenberg

March 13, 2006

AMHERST, MA – For the second time in the last three seasons, the Amherst College men’s basketball team heads to the NCAA Division III Tournament Final Four, where the Jeffs will face off with Wittenberg University (29-3) this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va., with a berth in the National Championship game at stake. Amherst moved on to the National Semifinals with a lopsided 93-70 victory over visiting St. John Fisher College, while the Tigers advanced with a 74-61 win over visiting Transylvania University.

The other National Semifinal matchup between Illinois Wesleyan University and Virginia Wesleyan University will be played Friday at 8 p.m. with the two winners meeting Saturday at 5 p.m. for the national title. Saturday’s championship game will be televised on College Sports Television (CSTV). Friday’s losing teams will battle for third place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday as well.

Tickets for this weekend are available (cash only) in the Amherst Athletics office (1202 Alumni Gym), today and Tuesday from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., and and Wednesday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. The two day ticket package (no individual game tickets will be sold) will cost $20 for adults and $10 for students and children. Any questions regarding ticket sales should be directed to Doris Naiman, Amherst’s Business Manager for Intercollegiate Athletics, at 413-542-2273.

All four games will be audio broadcast online by D3Hoops.com, while Internet video streaming will be provided courtesy of Penn Atlantic. A link for the live video feed will be available on Thursday at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s (ODAC) Final Four website. Amherst’s student radio station WAMH, will also provide a live audio webcast.

Amherst’s balanced scoring attack has been the key to their success all season. At 28-2, the Jeffs have already smashed the single-season school record for wins and rank among the national leaders in scoring offense (85.2 ppg), scoring margin (+20.7), field-goal percentage (49.8%), three-point field-goal percentage (41.4%), rebounding margin (+6.8), assists per game (18.8) and blocked shots per game (5.6). With 18 straight victories in tow, including NCAA Tournament wins over Hamilton College (83-59), Tufts University (90-85 OT) and St. John Fisher, the Jeffs are one win shy of tying the school mark for consecutive wins. Senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) has done most of the damage, posting 17.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game en route to becoming Amherst’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,494 points to date. All-Sectional honorees junior forward Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) and sophomore playmaker Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) have been red-hot in the tourney run as Wheeler is averaging 20.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over the last three outings, while Olson has stormed into Amherst men’s basketball history, sinking the most improbable of shots to force the overtime session against Tufts in the Round of 16 and smashing the single-season school record for assists (168) with an 11-point, 10-assist, four-steal performance against St. John Fisher in the National Quarterfinals. Senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) has come up with several clutch outings this season, averaging a solid 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds, including double-figure showings in four of his last five games. Junior Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) and sophomores Matt Goldsmith (Morristown, NJ), Kevin Hopkins (Saratoga Springs, NY) and Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) have done an outstanding job serving as center-by-committee. The group averages a combined 18.7 points and 13.1 rebounds per game, while allowing the Jeffs to attack the post with a variety of looks. Junior Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) has been a defensive menace off the bench, tallying 1.53 steals in just 16.7 minutes per contest, while senior point guards Ray Corrigan (Queens, NY) and Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT) and sophomore high-flyer Adolphe Coulibaly (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) have contributed valuable reserve minutes as well.

Wittenberg heads to Salem with an overall record of 29-3, boasting the top scoring defense in the nation (54.3 points allowed per game). Out of the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Tigers have reached the Final Four with victories over Lake Erie College (76-40), Baldwin-Wallace College (78-60), Hope College (56-49) and Transylvania. They get most of their offensive output from senior post players Daniel Russ (Louisville, KY) and Dane Borchers (Russia, OH), who are a formidable presence inside at 6’9” and 6’8”, respectively. Russ averages 15.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, while Borchers adds 12.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per outing on stellar 63.6% shooting. Classmate Kenny Brady (Reading, OH) adds 11.6 points and 4.4 boards per game, while senior guard Phil Steffes (Centerville, OH) and junior Pat Denbow (Louisville, KY) round out the starting lineup.

For further tournament information visit: http://odac.bridgewater.edu/hoopchamp/ or http://www.iwuhoops.com/TOURN06.HTM.

For an updated tournament bracket and scores, visit: http://www.d3sports.com/playoffs/mbbbracket2006.pdf

AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Ninth appearance / 15-9 all-time (10-1 home, 5-8 road)

  • 1993-94 (Qualified for the NCAA Tournament in its first year of eligibility… drew first-round bye… won at Colby in second round… beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Franklin & Marshall College, which entered the game with only one loss, in the Round of 16… Fell to eventual national champion Lebanon Valley in the national quarterfinals)
  • 1996-97 (Beat visiting Colby, 83-60, in first round… fell at Williams, 86-63, in second round)
  • 1999-00 (Beat visiting WNEC, 79-77, in first round… fell at Salem State, 81-75, in second round)
  • 2000-01 (Beat visiting St. John Fisher, 89-76, in first round… fell at Clark, 89-76, in second round)
  • 2001-02 (First-round bye… beat visiting Western Connecticut State, 82-77, in second round… fell at SUNY Brockport, 69-64, in Round of 16)
  • 2002-03 (First-round bye… beat visiting Southern Vermont, 84-60, in second round… beat Rochester, 74-68, in Round of 16… fell at Sectional host Williams, 91-75, in National Quarterfinals)
  • 2003-04 (First-round bye… beat visiting Plymouth State, 113-85, in second round… beat New Jersey City, 92-74, in Round of 16… beat Sectional host Franklin & Marshall, 82-70, in National Quarterfinals… fell to Williams, 86-81, in National Semifinals… fell to John Carroll, 96-85, in Championship consolation)
  • 2004-05 (First-round bye… beat Springfield, 81-68, in second round… fell to Rochester, 69-62, in Round of 16)
  • 2005-06 (First-round bye… beat Hamilton, 83-59, in second round… beat Tufts, 90-85 (OT), in Round of 16… beat St. John Fisher, 93-70 in National Quarterfinals… will face Wittenberg University in Final Four…)