By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
It’s been a learning process for the MIT men’s basketball team this season.
Larry Anderson’s squad is extremely young – six first-years and six sophomores, to be exact – but every player is eager to learn, both through practices and games. And that willingness to be the best has resulted in an impressive 11-3 overall ledger.
Senior co-captain Tim Butala is one of many players that have stepped-up this season for the Cardinal and Gray – he has netted a team-high 200 points, including 18 trifectas.
Sophomores Dakota Pierce, Cameron Korb and AJ Jurko have also contributed to MIT’s recent success on both ends of the court – all three can drive, pull-up and secure important rebounds, especially on defense.
“I am proud of my guys,” Anderson said following his team’s 84-59 win over Fitchburg State on Monday. “They’re finding a way to compete and figuring out how to play basketball the right way.”
Playing basketball the ‘right way,’ according to Anderson, starts with defense followed by success at the free-throw line. And the Engineers defense certainly did its job against the Falcons, forcing 15 turnovers that resulted in 20 points.
Additionally, the Engineers were successful at the stripe, converting 20 of 28 free throws, while locating quality shots, both inside and outside the half circle.
The game also featured glimpses of what this squad could become – again, the Engineers are young, but constantly learning from Anderson and the coaching staff on how to play basketball ‘the right way.’
“I saw a few plays that we made on both ends that I was pleased with,” said Anderson.
Those few plays Anderson highlighted will be needed throughout the remainder of the season, especially over the next few weeks.
MIT, currently 3-0 in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play, is set to host Springfield College on Saturday before entertaining top-ranked Babson College on Wednesday.
“We’re 0-0 right now. That is the way we have always approached it,” said Anderson. “Our guys understand that each game is different, each matchup is different and we try to prepare that way, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Extra, Extra: Earlier this week, I saw an exciting Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) clash between Mount Ida College and Lasell College (men’s basketball).
The game was billed as a must-see contest and it lived up to the hype.
Lasell captured the game, improving to 6-0 in league play and 9-4 overall. Their win snapped Mount Ida’s longest win-streak in league play of six-games.
Senior Armin Omanovic was quite impressive; netting a game-high 35 points, while sophomore Tim Blair sank a season-best eight three-pointers. Blair was on a roll after his initial trifecta in the opening session, knocking down three-pointer after three-pointer. He finished the game 8 of 14 from beyond the arc.
Mount Ida did not back down after the opening tip, receiving contributions on both ends from senior Ethan Dujon and juniors Jayson Clark and Errald Jordine.
Both teams will play again later this month, so if you’re looking for a quality mid-week clash, head over to Mount Ida on Wednesday, January 25.
* The Endicott College men’s basketball bounced back from a 74-70 setback to Western New England with an 82-66 win over Salve Regina on Wednesday. The Gulls will host Nichols College on Saturday – if you’re around, head to campus to watch a very important Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) clash. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.
* The Roger Williams University women’s basketball secured the top spot in the CCC with a 57-47 win over Western New England on Wednesday. Both teams entered the game undefeated.
Senior Bridget Quilty led the Hawks with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, while junior Anna Walther netted 15 points and dished out a trio of assists. Roger Williams visits Gordon on Saturday.
* The Eastern Connecticut State University men’s basketball captured its sixth-straight contest last night by defeating UMass Dartmouth to bump its conference ledger to 4-0. Both teams last met in the Little East Conference (LEC) semifinal last season, a game the Corsairs captured en route to the league championship.
The Warriors of Eastern Connecticut return to the hardwood on Saturday when they visit UMass Boston. The Beacons have won three-straight, including a double-overtime win last night against Plymouth State.
* New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play just started, but I have a few teams – or technically thoughts on some squads worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.
The Bates College men’s basketball team could be a tough out in the league tournament; they’re off to their best start in league play since 2011 (the Bobcats are currently 2-0). The Bobcats have a challenging weekend ahead – they will face Hamilton tomorrow (Friday, January 13) and Middlebury College on Saturday.
Middlebury visit Tufts University on Friday evening – that game should be a must-watch or attend if you’re in the area. Could this game be perhaps a semifinal or championship preview? Possibly, but I also think we shouldn’t overlook Williams College, too.
As for some women’s NESCAC teams to watch, keep an eye on Bowdoin College, Connecticut College and Middlebury. All three will challenge Amherst College and Tufts for the top spot.
* The Husson University women’s basketball team has been unstoppable this season, winning nine of ten games, including six North Atlantic Conference (NAC) tilts. They could distance themselves in the standings this weekend with wins over Johnson State and Lyndon State.
Keep an eye on Lyndon State junior Mikayla Hodge, who was tabbed this week’s conference player of the week after posting a three double-doubles last week. She averaged 16.7 points per game, 14.7 caroms and 1.3 blocks.