|2006-07 Men's Basketball Season Preview|
Third-Ranked Jeffs Ready to Defend NESCAC Title
November 7, 2006
The Lord Jeffs enter the 2006-07 season ranked third in the country among Division III schools according to d3hoops.com.
Amherst earned an automatic bid to their seventh straight NCAA Tournament, drawing a first-round bye and downing visiting Hamilton College, 83-59, in the NCAA second round, clinching their fifth consecutive “Round of 16” appearance. Their second game proved to be much more of a challenge, with Tufts again coming just one second short of defeating the Jeffs in regulation until a desperate Andrew Olson heave from behind the three-point line found its way to the rim and fell through to tie the game as time expired. The Jeffs moved on to defeat the Jumbos in overtime, 90-85. With a convincing 93-70 win over visiting St. John Fisher College in the NCAA Sectional Championship game, the Lord Jeffs advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the second time in the last three seasons, but fell to national runner-up Wittenberg College, 64-60.
The Jeffs also won their second consecutive Little Three Championship, including a dominating victory at Williams College to secure the title. Amherst led the NESCAC in scoring offense (83.8 ppg), scoring margin (19.2 ppg), field goal percentage (49.1%), assists (18.6 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.49), while finishing second in scoring defense (64.7 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (41.6%), three-point field goal percentage defense (31.3%), blocked shots (5.41 bpg), turnover margin (+2.00), and three-point field goals made (9.16/gm).
Amherst also loses a pair of guards who, in their four years, put in valuable minutes coming off the bench. Keith Zalaski did not start for the Jeffs, but did bail them out when called upon by coming off the bench as a backup point guard, especially during his junior season. Ray Corrigan also played a valuable role coming off the bench after a serious injury removed him from the starting roster, still managing to record the second highest assist total in Amherst history (342). Bedford, Casnocha, Zalaski and Corrigan are part of the winningest class in Amherst history, totaling 105 wins in their four years.
The big men leading the team will be O’Shea and Wheeler. Wheeler was named to last season’s All-NESCAC Second Team, NCAA All-Sectional Team, and Pioneer Valley Classic All-Tournament Team. He finished 11th in the NESCAC in scoring (14.5 ppg), fourth in three-point field goals (2.31/gm), sixth in free throw percentage (80.5%), three-point field goal percentage (44.6%) and offensive rebounds (2.22/gm), tied for seventh in blocks (1.00/gm) and 14th in field goal percentage (48.3). Wheeler also received NESCAC All-Academic honors. Rounding out the senior class will be fan-favorite quad-captain Mike Salerno, who will provide minutes at the guard position.
Rounding out the junior class will be Fletcher Walters, Brandon Jones, Kevin Hopkins and Adolphe Coulibaly, all of whom contributed to the team’s success last season, but are now ready to make a serious difference. Along with the juniors, this year’s sophomore class will see an increase in playing time to help fill in for the last year’s seniors. The sophomores are led by forward and California native Brian Baskauskas, who entered Amherst last year as one of the most highly touted rookies in Div. III hoops. Along with Baskauskas, the Jeffs feature guard/forward Glenn Wong, forward Mike Holsey and point guard Marcus Bradley, all of whom will see a significant increase of playing time while learning from the team’s veterans.
This year’s first-year class offer a lot of talent and experience that will certainly be a factor for the squad in their four years at Amherst. The rookie class includes D.J. Carcieri, Steve Wheeler (brother of Dan) and Brian Lundeen, all coming from very strong high school programs.
|Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Basketball > 2006-07 Season Preview|