Mass. College Hoops: WPI’s Bartley Reflects On NEWMAC Championship

Chris Bartley guided the Engineers to their first NEWMAC Championship since 2006 on Sunday afternoon! (Photo Credit: WPI Athletics)

Chris Bartley guided the Engineers to their first NEWMAC Championship since 2006 on Sunday afternoon! (Photo Credit: WPI Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

WORCESTER, MA – After his team celebrated their first NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) championship in seven seasons, WPI men’s basketball coach Chris Bartley shared his thought’s on the Engineers overtime win against Springfield College, as well as the play of Ryan Kolb, who netted a career-best 29 points.

With the win, WPI earned an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Division III championship, which will commence next weekend.

On ending a seven-year championship drought: “It’s something that I think about all the time. I don’t think our guy’s do because they weren’t here for all of them. The only ones that have been here for all of them are Ryan Cain and I.”

On what worked for the Engineers this year: I think the big thing that helped us this year with this group is we really did a better job of not focusing on the outcome and just focusing on what we needed to do each day and each possession. We really broke it down and everything was like a microcosm, so I’m proud of that. I thought we handled it well and I’ve got to tell you that I did not sleep one second last night, so I was extremely confident because I might have past out on the bench for not sleeping, but it was great.”

On Fending Off Springfield’s Second Half Rally: “You’ve got great players on Springfield College’s team and you’ve got leadership with Sean Martin and Alex Berthiaume, and those guys are season veterans. They’ve been through it, so we knew and didn’t say to our guys that they were going to make a run, but I was figuring they probably would and when Berthiaume got going a little bit, made some shots, it gave them confidence. When they took the lead by a three-pointer, I think things could have really gone south for us, but again I point to our guy’s mental toughness. Our guy’s are really mentally tough, all year and when they needed it to be at the most critical time they were and I thought Aaron Davis with the way he started overtime was phenomenal. Davis scored two baskets with his left hand on drives, which he hasn’t made that shot for a while for us, so it just shows you what type of big game player he is.”

On the play of Ryan Kolb: “He’s a tough kid. He’s literally one of the toughest kids I have ever coached. We also call him, ‘The Rock’ because he can be a rock at a time, but when a kid steps up like that I’m just in awe of how a kid can do that on that big of a stage. It’s just very impressive to me.”

On Springfield’s play down the stretch: “For them to do what they’ve done at the end of the year here is why I think they belong in the NCAA (Division III tournament). They’ve beaten so many good teams, so I have nothing, but respect for how tough and how well coached Springfield is and another bounce or another way, and they would have been hoisting the trophy today.”     

NEWMAC Semifinals: Springfield College 68, MIT 60

By Matt Noonan 

WORCESTER, MA – Springfield College’s Sean Martin recorded a career-best 21 points, as the Pride used a second half surge to defeat MIT in the NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) semifinals, 68-60.

With the win, the Pride earned a spot in Sunday’s conference championship for the second time in two seasons.

MIT’s Will Tashman, who led the Engineers with 19 points, scored the game’s first seven points, which provided the hosts with all the momentum, but Springfield responded by finishing the opening stanza on a 7-2 run, thanks to Martin’s trifecta and layup, and Alex Berthiaume’s coast-to-coast layup.

James Burke’s triple and layup early in the second pushed the Engineers lead to 10 with 15:15 remaining, but the Pride eventually erased the deficit with layups and 3-pointers to even the score at 52 with 6:53 remaining.

Tashman and Mitchell Kates combined for the team’s next five points before Berthiaume and Martin combined for the Pride’s next eight points, which pushed Springfield ahead for good.

Berthiaume matched Martin with a game-best 21 points, while Robbie Burke added 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

MIT’s Matt Redfield finished with 14 points, while Burke concluded with 11 points, four assists and two boards.  

Mass. College Hoops: Five Games To Watch This Weekend (Feb. 22-24)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Friday, which means its time to unveil five basketball games to watch this weekend. And as usual, we invite you to circle back to our blog throughout the weekend to for recaps, roundups and releases.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@NoontimeSports or @NoonSportsBlog), as well as become a fan on Facebook (Facebook.com/NoonSports).

Men’s Basketball:

Boston University at UMBC (Saturday, 7:00 p.m.) – The Terriers won’t be dancing in March or April, but as of lately they’ve been on a roll. BU enters the game on a five-game winning streak and will look to earn a season sweep against UMBC.

Last time these two squads tangled, Dom Morris filled the stat sheet with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one steal, which helped the locals tackle the Maryland institution.

The Retrievers haven’t appeared in the win column since defeating Maine on February 2, so it’ll be interesting to see how this dogfight concludes.

MIT vs. Springfield College (Saturday, 3:00 p.m. @ WPI) – The third time is the charm, right?

The rematch of last year’s NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) championship is expected to be an epic battle. The winner of this game will face-off against the winner of Babson College-WPI on Sunday in the conference championship, so strap on your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

MIT enters the game on an eight-game winning streak, while Springfield College concluded their regular season slate with three consecutive victories.

Springfield’s Alex Berthiaume netted 20 points or more in both meetings, so MIT will need to keep an eye on him. However, the Engineers received some much needed help from Will Tashman in their last meeting, as the senior recorded a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Both squads handed the top-seeded Engineers of WPI a loss during the final week of the regular season, and will certainly pose challenges for Chris Bartley’s crew.

Middlebury College vs. Williams College (Saturday, 3:00 p.m. @ Amherst College) – The NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) will feature two great semifinal matchups on Saturday, but this is certainly a big one.

The Ephs edged the Panthers in their last meeting, 64-63 in Williamstown, thanks to a Daniel Wohl’s layup with 31 ticks remaining. The Ephs won the battle of the boards, but surrendered the ball 13 times, which allowed the Panthers to convert an additional 18 points.

After sustaining their first setback of the season, Middlebury recovered by winning six of their final seven contests. With a win, the Panthers would appear in the conference championship tilt for the fifth consecutive time. Last year, they lost to Amherst College, but defeated Williams the previous year.

Women’s Basketball:

Bentley University at Stonehill College (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.) – The first meeting resulted in a win for the Falcons, so can the Skyhawks even the season series with a victory on their court?

Stonehill enters the contest on a four-game winning streak. They’ve averaged 82.5 points in their last four matches, thanks to offensive production from Mary Louise Dixon, Asia Ewing and Tori Faieta.

Bentley recently took over the number one position in the USA Today Sports poll, as well as earned their third consecutive Northeast-10 regular season crown with its 24th consecutive win on Wednesday against Franklin Pierce. Lauren Battista finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Jacqui Brugliera netted 13 points in the win.  

Last time these two squads met, the Falcons constructed a 49-11 lead and never looked back. Batista, Courtney Finn and Christiana Bakolas each recorded 10 points or more in the win, while Faieta led the visitors with a game-best 14 points.

Amherst College vs. Bowdoin College (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.) – The Polar Bears shocked New England last weekend by defeating Tufts University in Medford. Can they continue their momentum against the Lord Jeffs?

Bowdoin led Amherst at the break during their first meeting, but couldn’t fend off a second half charge, as the Lord Jeffs’ 44 points secured the win. Amherst’s Marcia Voigt led all scorers with 17 points, while Bowdoin’s Selena Lorrey scored 15 points off the bench. The Polar Bears bench provided 21 points compared to the Lord Jeffs 10, so it’ll be interesting to see if the non-starters can impact this game.

Against the Jumbos, the Polar Bears held their opponent to 22 of 67 from the field, as well as outrebounded them, 38-35.

Bowdoin topped Amherst in the 2009 conference championship, but ever since the Lord Jeffs have won and two victories this weekend will make it a four-peat for the hosts.

Catching Up With Charlie Brock (Springfield College Men’s Basketball)

Springfield College Pride (Photo Credit: LaxJournal.com)

Springfield College Pride (Photo Credit: LaxJournal.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Springfield College’s men’s basketball team shocked the country on Sunday afternoon by handing the fifth ranked WPI Engineers their first setback of the season. At the time of the game, though, WPI was ranked second in the nation.

Earlier today, Noontime Sports caught up with head coach Charlie Brock to discuss his team’s win, as well as his team’s outlook toward their final two regular season contests against Clark University and Wheaton College.

On beating WPI: “Well first of all, we played well on Sunday and to beat a team like WPI you have to (because) they’re very, very good and they are a very, very good shooting team from the perimeter. All of their perimeter guys including Ryan Kolb, who’s an inside player that can shoot three’s really well, so that spreads the floor and creates matchup problems, and secondly I thought when we were (playing at WPI in Worcester) and they forced you to do this they are a very good defensively and they force you to do things that you’re not comfortable with typically and I thought we played with a little bit more patience on Sunday than we did up there, and maybe created a better opportunity for scoring for ourselves.”

On the team’s defense and free throw shooting: “I think we’ve evolved as the season has gone along into a better defensive team, a little bit better understanding of what needs to be done with certain players depending upon the kind of player they are and free throw shooting (is something) we all work on. If there were a miracle cure for how to be a great free throw shooting team, we’d all be doing it. It’s one of those things you don’t find in the manual. And at a crucial time of the game and always in a close game, if you knock them down it makes a difference and we did (against WPI).”

On utilizing every member of the team: “They get comfortable with the rotations with the way we would like to do them. Some things mess that up a little bit like guys getting in foul trouble and Sean Martin got into some trouble against WPI, which gave Matt Pascuzzo an opportunity for more minutes and he gave us a great lift and he’s a little water bug, he’s all over the floor. And Tim Swenson, (who) is in a six-year program, a very challenging physical therapy program and the first two years out of high school, we recruited him, but he didn’t think he was going to have time to play, but this is his first year (on our team and) he’s just now coming into a situation where he’s becoming a little bit more comfortable wit what he can do. He was getting in foul trouble early and he’s settled into that situation a little bit, and he’s a good strong body coming in off the bench. We’ve got some great big guys in our league (like) Will Tashman from MIT is a great player, Brian Vayda from Clark University is a great player, and John Wickey from Babson College is a great player, and Kolb is an outstanding player.”

On how the WPI win will help the Pride: “Well we hope so. Again, you’ve got to play well now at this stage of the game (because) it’s crunch time and every time you put your foot on the floor we’ve got to play well, we’ve got to do certain things well, you have to win the battles of the boards, you have to win the battles of the fouls and you have to win the battles of defensive field goal percentage. One of the factors (from) the WPI game was that we were able to get their shooting percentage a little bit lower than they’re accustomed to and have been doing and it was a factor in the game. It was a 60 point game instead of something in the mid 70’s.”

On finishing the regular season on a strong note: “Right now we’re just taking almost every moment at a time and that’s what we try to sell to the degree to which they buy into that and athletes are kind of fickle and you don’t know what they’re thinking, but the main thing we do now is focus on what we’ve got to do to win a game against a really good Clark team. I was just looking at some of their games and they’ve got three games that they’ve lost by one point, one of them in overtime to Tufts University the other night. They got a win over Eastern Connecticut (a squad) that’s a potential NCAA team early in the year. They go down to New York University and lose by one, and we were able to outlast them the first we played them. It was a great game. Their record is deceiving, they’re really good, they’ve got really good players, they’re very well coached and we’ve just got to live in the moment here and do (our best) and try to limit what they want to do and see if we can win the game.”

On the play of Alex Berthiaume: “Well he does a great job of making players around him better. He’s an outstanding passer. He’s a very good ball handler and he contributes to the team’s success for sure in so many ways. The thing that’s interesting about him was last year it was kind of an unknown and even during the course of the year even though he was having great games he was still an unknown, but he wasn’t an unknown this year and so he becomes a focus for teams going against him. If (teams are) going to beat us, they’ll have to limit what he does and that’s what made it more difficult for him. He did sustain an injury just before the holidays and actually over the past couple of weeks has really just ironed itself out to where earlier in January he was a little bit hampered by it. I think he’s very healthy right now, but we’re waiting on another player that we lost (Jordan Rote) a couple of weeks ago and he hasn’t played the last four games and one of those games (was against WPI in Worcester and we were) learning to play without Jordan because he brings such a different kind of look to (our unit). He’s a (player that can get inside), and the kid that replaced him (Nick Sienkiewicz) had a monster game against WPI the other day and he’s a different player, so as a team we’re getting used to that and we’re hopeful that we get Jordan back full strength for the tournament and that’s kind of a long range goal we’ve got right now.”

On being successful in the NEWMAC tournament: “I think any (team from the conference) is capable (of winning the tournament). In order to get there and win it, you can’t stain any injuries to key players, you’ve got to play with smarts (because) you’re doing executing and doing things well, not turning the ball over and taking care of it, and defensively now it becomes even more of a premium because as we go along every game gets tougher and tougher and kids playing harder and harder, so I think if you look at some of the scores of our league against teams from other leagues, we’ve been able to do pretty well, so I think any (team) could make some hay in the tournament.”

Mass. College Hoops: Springfield Snaps WPI’s 22-Game Winning Streak (VIDEO)

By Matt Noonan 

Sunday was an exciting day for Pride fans, as Springfield College’s men’s basketball team snapped WPI’s 22-game winning streak with a 66-60 victory in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Alex Berthiaume paced the Pride with 20 points, Nick Sienkiewicz chipped in 19 points, while Springfield finished 24 of 30 from the stripe.

Below are highlights from Sunday’s tilt from the Springfield College YouTube channel: