The women's basketball team is here to stay.
The first games of the season for the men's basketball team will not be played in Cousens Gym or even in New England. Instead, the Jumbos travel west of the Mississippi for the first two games of their 101st season. Tufts will play the Washington University in St. Louis Bears tonight at 8 p.m. in the 21st annual Lopata Classic, with Whittier and Wittenberg squaring off in an earlier game. The two losers will play for third place tomorrow, followed by the two winners meeting in the evening championship game.
The women's basketball team will tip-off its season this weekend when it hosts the first annual Tufts Invitational Tournament. The Jumbos will battle Bryn Mawr College tonight and either Endicott College or Smith College on Saturday. Tufts has not had much experience playing against the Centennial Conference team, but coach Carla Berube is preparing for what she believes will be a challenge and test for her team.
The off-season was hard on the men's basketball team, but that doesn't dampen coach Bob Sheldon's optimism. "We've got 13 guys on the team and they started working out since the week after the season ended last year," Sheldon said. "They have worked really well and really bought into the system. We're going to make up for the experience we lost with teamwork." Tufts graduated its leading scorer and rebounder in the form of former co-captain Deyvehn East. East set an example both on and off the court last season averaging 12.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game while helping to sustain moral during its 8-17 (2-7 NESCAC) run. Those who will also be absent from this year's roster include former co-captain Eric Mack, who graduated with East in the spring, now-junior Blaine Lay, who transferred to James Madison over the summer, and classmate Scott Armstrong who will study abroad in the spring. Mack led the team in assists last year with 83, Armstrong was second in total points scored with 229, while Lay was the second leading rebounder, averaging 6.2 boards per game, and the third highest point producer with 224 on the year. "Deyvehn was very athletic had experience," coach Bob Sheldon said. "Eric was our point guard and played most of the time. We're going to miss the experience that they, and the two juniors, brought to the games." Even with these key players, the Jumbos did not fare well last year, especially in the NESCAC. They averaged just 66.7 points per game, compared with their opponents' 76.6. Tufts did out-rebound its competition, 39.6 to 36.4 per game, with the help of Lay and East, but surrendered 19.6 turnovers every forty minutes. To better these statistics, Tufts will have to both compensate for its losses and potentially change its game plan against its highly-competitive league rivals. Sheldon is confident in his team's ability to do these very things. This year's squad will be anchored by senior tri-captains Reggie Stovell, Jesse Belodoff and Andrew Kaklamanos. 6'9" junior Dan Martin, who averaged 8.0 PPG with 4.6 RPG last season, will have to use his size to help fill in under the boards and drive to the basket. The team roster also includes four juniors and three sophomores along with three new freshmen. "Martin and Stovell will be starting in the 4-5, and Brian Fitzgerald and Casey D'Annolfo will be other big guys inside," Sheldon said. "We're going to do rebound by committee and send five big guys to the boards. Last year we were so deep, we had to get some rotations going. Dan and Reggie will be getting more time, and we're excited about it." Sheldon also expects several freshmen to break out on the offensive side of the court this winter. "[Freshmen] Ryan O'Keefe and Jake Weitzen are both going to play and we expect them to be big contributors. They were both big scorers on their high school teams," he said. Though they did not put up many wins against league opponents last year, the Jumbos did make the postseason tournament. However, they lost in the first round to Trinity on Feb. 21 by a score of 57-72. It was the second time that season that the Jumbos had fallen to the Bantams, and to add insult to injury, now-senior Craig Coupe, who played for Tufts for two seasons before transferring to Trinity, was on the winning side of the court in February. Tufts will be out to avenge this loss this season. "There's a little extra something there when we play Trinity," Sheldon said. "But there's also something with Williams and Amherst too. [However], I think with Trinity it's a little bit more personal." Tufts has been training hard throughout the preseason in hopes of improving from last season. So far the team and coaching staff feel optimistic as they prepare for their first games at the Lopata Classic in St. Louis, MO this coming weekend. "As a staff, we're really excited about going this season," Sheldon said. "The guys will give us and each other any thing we might ask them to give. Right now we're playing as more of a team than we have in the past few years."HOOPS STATS1 Games the Jumbos won in 13 tries away from Cousens Gym last season.292 Team's three-point percentage in 2003-04.387 Opponent's three-point percentage in 2003-0417 Times Deyvehn East, Blaine Lay, or Scott Armstrong led the team in scoring (all are gone this year)0 Number of times Tufts won back to back games last season
Despite key losses, the men's basketball team is confident that it will fill the holes left by graduation and transfer. With question marks arising due to the losses of 2003-04 co-captains Deyvehn East and Eric Mack, along with juniors Blaine Lay, who transferred to James Madison, and Scott Armstrong, who is not playing this season, the remaining players claim to have the answers. There will be plenty of opportunity for members of this year's team to fill the void, as East, Mack, Lay, and Armstrong logged the most time on the court last winter. Sophomore Dave Shepherd, who averaged 6.3 points and 2.5 assists per game last season as the primary backup to Mack at the point, concedes that while much of last year's team is gone, they are not forgotten. "Like any team that loses two senior captains that played the majority of the minutes at their respective positions, it is going to be hard to adjust in the early going," Shepherd said. "However, the buzz around the locker room is very positive," the sophomore point guard continued. "The guys have worked very hard in the offseason and the attitude is significantly different." Along with the uncertainty of many players stepping into new roles is the opportunity for the team to shed the identity of last season's 8-17 (2-7 NESCAC) record. Shepherd and his teammates are embracing the opportunity to begin anew. "In contrast to last year, there is a dedication to running the ball and playing a conservative non-gambling defense," Shepherd said. "We plan to make these styles of play the staples of our program." Also figuring to make an impact this season is Dan Martin, who put up 8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last winter filling in at the power positions. Martin, who started in 12 of the team's 25 games last year, and senior Reggie Stovell, an integral member of the 2003-04 squad, will need to establish themselves as inside presences for the team to succeed this fall. Forwards Brian Kumf, a sophomore, and junior Brian Fitzgerald will also see increased opportunity on the court due to the vacancies. As a freshman, Kumf averaged 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in only 13.5 minutes per game. At the guard position, senior co-captains Andrew Kaklamanos and Jesse Belodoff will be joining Shepherd. Kaklamanos regularly came off the bench as a junior to fill in for East at shooting guard. Sophomore guard Roff Trethewey will be redshirting this season. While the men's basketball team had many vacancies entering training camp, the players all came in ready to make an impact as individuals and as a group. With plenty of returning and incoming talent, the 2004-05 installment of Jumbo hoops is ready to establish its own identity. "Last year is still fresh in our memories," Shepherd said. "But we feel like a new team with a lot to prove, and a lot of potential."
If you ever had the inclination to follow the men's basketball team on the road, then this weekend is a great opportunity to see one of the most loaded games of the season. The men's basketball team faces a back-to-back NESCAC punch this weekend with a game at Amherst on Friday at 7 p.m. and at Trinity on Saturday at 3 p.m. Victories in these games could catapult the 5-11 Jumbos into playoff contention, while losses could drop them into last place in the conference. But wins and losses aside, there is another factor that makes this weekend's road trip intriguing. On Saturday, the Jumbos will come face-to-face with former teammate Craig Coupe, now a junior at Trinity. And with a fresh wound turning into a fierce rivalry, this game promises to deliver an intense and physical grudge match that would make the Detroit Pistons' Bad Boy teams proud. "We want to kill him," sophomore Dan Martin said. Coupe, Tufts' former 6'7" all-NESCAC center, transferred to league-rival Trinity last summer in order to pursue a business degree, a program that Tufts doesn't offer. In his two years at Tufts, Coupe was named NESCAC Freshman of the Year in 2001 and to the All-NESCAC second team the season after. He closed out his sophomore year averaging 13.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. Playing along side him was forward Reggie Stovell. "Coupe is a good friend of mine and a great player in my opinion," Stovell said. "Off the court he is my friend, but on the court he is somebody else. He is my rival." Currently at center for Trinity, Coupe has still proven to be a force from the paint -- second in the league in field goal percentage (57.9 percent), fourth in rebounding (9.5 per game), and fifth in blocked shots (1.27 per game). "Guys are gunning for him," Stovell said. "His leaving the team hurt us, and now that he plays for Trinity. Well, that pisses us off." Coupe's departure from the Jumbo squad resulted in the loss of his numbers and left a gaping hole on the court, which inevitably forced this year's squad to shift around its entire offensive game plan. While he was at it, he left some of his friendships on the rocks as well. "He has been up to Tufts once or twice and tried to get in contact with us, but he pretty much sold us out," Martin said. Martin at 6'9" and fellow sophomore 6'7" Blaine Lay have both had to step up to fill the Coupe gap. They will also be responsible for guarding Coupe on Saturday, as well as 6'6" forward Tyler Rhoten, who has been average 18 points per game. "I'm going to be physical with him," Martin said. "If you hit him a couple of times you can get him out of his game." Coupe or no Coupe, the Jumbos have got themselves two tough opponents to face. Amherst sits currently at number three in the nation, while Trinity finds itself at number eleven. Tufts looks to control both games from the get go, not giving the opponents a chance to make a run. "We want to play like we did against Bates," Stovell said. "Our game plan is to play hard, intelligent, and together." Tufts must be at the top of its game to make it through this weekend 2-0. And make it through they must because, at third and fourth place in the NESCAC, Amherst and Trinity are at the heart of the obstacles the Jumbos will have to overcome if they want make a run for the playoffs.
While most of their fellow Jumbos were relishing in the respite that winter break provides, the men's basketball team was plodding its way through a winter campaign. The unsuccessful six-game stretch came to an end on Tuesday, with a 75-67 loss to Wheaton. "We did not get it done," senior co-captain Eric Mack said in reference to the Wheaton game. "We played well for most of the game, but not good enough to win." The story of the Wheaton game is the same as many of the games Tufts has played this season. The Jumbos shot out of the gait with a nine-point lead in the early minutes of the game, only to see it disintegrate to a four-point deficit at the end of the half. Tufts kept it close in the second, and tied the game at 54-54 with just over seven minutes left. The team was unable to regain the lead, however, as Wheaton pulled away with an 8-2 run. "We have to play as hard as we can from the beginning of the game, not just the last ten minutes," Mack said. "Sometimes we take a few plays off and teams come back. We're not playing hard for 40 minutes." The Lyons notched their ninth victory of the season with the victory, while the Jumbos took their tenth loss, the fifth of the six winter-break games. Previous to the Wheaton loss, Tufts split back-to-back games against its first NESCAC competitors of the season. The Jumbos got their only win of the break in a 77-70 victory over Connecticut College last Friday. Unlike their other matches, the Jumbos saw their six-point half-time lead turn into a victory, which included recovering from a 26-16 Camel run that culminated in a tie score (57-57) with 8-minutes left in regulation. The victory ended a five game losing streak for the Jumbos -- the longest losing streak since 1999. The team followed up that victory with a 100-88 loss to Wesleyan the next day. The squad took its first, and what would be its only lead of the game with an opening layup by sophomore Scott Armstrong. Beyond that point Wesleyan built its lead over the course of the game, and Tufts was unable to find a voice with which to answer. Through the Jumbos split their first NESCAC games, the team was able to learn one basic lesson to carry throughout its NESCAC season. "We know we can beat anyone at this point in this season," Mack said. "But, at the same time we know we can lose to anyone also." In the two NESCAC games, Armstrong, who averaged 19.5 points on 56 percent shooting and 7 rebounds, led the Jumbos. Senior co-captain Deyvehn East also contributed with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists in each of Tufts two conference tilts. Tufts also participated in the CUA Pepsi Classic hosted by Catholic University in Washington D.C. In both games of the weekend, the team managed to blow first half leads. Greensborough College claimed its 80-58 win from the Jumbos as they were still nursing their wounds from the 71-51 loss to Kean College the day before. "The teams we played there were both pretty good and it showed that we were definitely capable of competing with anyone," Mack said. "But, at the same that if we want to win we need to do some things differently." The break also included a close, 74-77 loss to UMASS Boston. The game saw the return of junior Reggie Stovell to the court. In his first six games, Stovell has been shooting better than 40 percent, and has contributed 37 rebounds. In order to turn things around, Mack believes the team must increase the pressure it puts on opposing teams' guards and force the game tempo. Offensively, the team wants the ball to be entered into the post whenever possible. Tufts now sits at 3-10 for the season. This includes a 1-1 NESCAC record, which puts them in fifth place in the conference.
It seems like the Tufts basketball program came down with a case of Bowl Championship Series fever this year, as it took its schedule strength up a couple of points by traveling to Dartmouth last Thursday to battle the Division-I Big Green. With its Ivy League background, it would have been demoralizing for Dartmouth to lose to Division-III Tufts, but the Big Green saved itself from embarrassment by trucking the Jumbos 95-60 last Thursday in New Hampshire. "It was a wakeup call," sophomore center Blaine Lay said. "They were definitely the hardest team we are going to play all year." The Jumbos weren't intimidated by their opponent, but that didn't matter with Dartmouth shooting 67.3 percent from the field. "The guys are a little bigger and a little stronger [on Dartmouth]," Lay said. "Once you get beyond the Division-I stigma and get on the floor, it's just a basketball game." The Big Green came out in the first half gunning. After suffering hard-luck losses to Division-I opponents in its first four games of the year, Dartmouth wasn't playing with Tufts. The Big Green missed just six shots in the first half, shooting 21-for-27 from the field, an unheard of 77.8 percent. Within those field goals, Dartmouth shot 9-for-13 from three-point land (69.3 percent). "I think if we played them ten times, they would only shoot like they did maybe one time out of ten, if that," Lay said. Tufts entered the locker room facing a huge 55-30 deficit, despite having shot the ball well. The team shot 45.8 percent from the field during the first half, hitting four of seven three-point attempts. In the second half Dartmouth stopped playing Tufts like the Washington Generals and started to lose some of its consciousness from the field. The Big Green's shooting percentage cooled down 54.5 percent; but the Jumbos only made ten of their 28 shot attempts. The key stat of the game was three-point shooting. Both teams attempted a good amount of shots from behind the arch, but Dartmouth was more successful, hitting an amazing 71.4 percent of its attempts. Tufts made 47.1 percent of its attempts, but lost some of its consistency in the second half. "The first five minutes [of the second half] we wanted to chip away and see what happened, but their shooting was too much. They were hot from everywhere," Lay said. Dartmouth three-point shooters never lost their rhythm. Michael Lang hit for a career-high 21 points off the bench. He shot 5-for-7 from three-point range, but also played a vital role in disrupting Tufts' offense at times by accumulating seven steals. In addition, Steve Callahan and Michael McLaren both made four of five three point shots in the game, respectively. Defending Division-III National Champion and NESCAC foe Williams College proved it is possible for a Division-III basketball team to beat a Division-I program by defeating Holy Cross 78-71 on the same evening. Unfortunately, Tufts made too many mistakes to duplicate those results. Both the Jumbos and the Big Green turned over the ball a good amount as Tufts finished with 22 compared to Dartmouth's 15. The Big Green also set up its players better, accumulating 25 assists to Tufts' 13. "[Dartmouth] ran its offense very efficiently," junior guard Jesse Belodoff said. "And we had trouble getting out on shooters in the first half especially. In the second half we got up and pressured more, which made [the game] a lot more competitive." While Tufts was solidly defeated, some positives came out of the game. Senior co-captain Deyvehn East showed his range on the court, hitting four of six three point attempts, torching Dartmouth for 21 points. Junior Scott Armstrong continued to put in quality work as the team's sixth man, scoring nine points in 25 minutes of action. "We had some good individual efforts, but as a team we could have played better," Lay said. Also positive was the total team rebounds. Given the two teams' height differences, with sophomore forward Dan Martin listed as Tufts tallest player at 6'9'' compared to Dartmouth with two players listed at 6'9'' and two players that are listed as 6'10'' and 6'11'', respectively, it seemed like the Big Green would prove to be tall trees and control the boards. However, this was not the case. Since Dartmouth was shooting so well, there weren't many rebounds, but the Jumbos equaled Dartmouth's 26 total rebounds, and in addition, grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Sophomore Brian Fitzgerald led the way for the Jumbos with six boards. "Twenty-six rebounds is kind of low," Lay said. "They were shooting lights out, so there really weren't that many." Also, the Jumbos continue to improve from the free-throw line. They shot 71.4 percent at Dartmouth and 81.3 percent last Tuesday against MIT, both a far cry from the almost 51 percent they were shooting as a team through the first four games of the season. Tufts now stands at 2-4 on the season and Dartmouth now stands at 1-4, still without a win against a Division-I opponent. The basketball team was supposed to hit the court on Saturday against Clark, but due to the snow, the game was postponed until Feb. 19, two days before the tentative start of the NESCAC playoffs. The Jumbos travel to Plymouth State tomorrow to play their final game before their shortened winter recess. The game is scheduled for a 7 pm tip-off.
This season, the men's basketball team hopes to perform exactly how it is described: as a team. "We want to play like a team," senior co-captain Eric Mack said. "We want to spread out the shot, keep turnovers down, and play defense." If the season started today, the starting line-up would feature Mack at point guard, junior Andrew Kaklamanos at shooting guard, senior co-captain Deyvehn East at small forward, sophomore Dan Martin at power forward, and sophomore Blaine Lay at center. Sophomore Scott Armstrong should be the first Jumbo off the bench, playing either a tall shooting guard or small forward. The coaching staff has tentatively penciled in freshman Dave Shepherd at back-up point guard/shooting guard, though he may be out for the entire season pending MRI results on his knee which he injured before the season. Freshmen Brian Kumf and Jason Grauer should also see time down low with junior Jesse Belodoff possibly getting some time at guard. The Jumbos have opted to spread out the offense due to two main factors. The first factor is the combined loss of Mike McGlynn, Brian Shapiro, Jim Wilson, Craig Coupe and junior Reggie Stovell. McGlynn, Shapiro, and Wilson were the team's first, third, and fourth top scorers from last season and all three are lost due to graduation. Coupe (13.7 ppg, 11.4 rpg) was Tufts leading rebounder and second leading scorer last season, but transferred to Trinity for his junior year in order to pursue a business degree. Stovell is still on the team, but last year's fifth leading scorer is probably going to be sidelined until second semester due to a stress fracture. "There is going to be more of a team scoring," Sheldon said. "[The offense] will be more spread out." If the Jumbos possess any go-to guy, senior co-captain Eric Mack and coach Bob Sheldon both believe it will be East. However, both still feel that in order for the Jumbos to be successful, the ball will have to be spread around and multiple players will have to score. "[The offense] is going to come from everywhere," Mack said. "You are going to see a lot of players with eight to 12 points." The second factor is that East and sophomore center Blaine Lay are the only two active players who played more than ten minutes a game last year. Sheldon would like to see at least five to six passes on each possession, working the shot clock, and looking for the best shot, not always the first shot. Last Saturday, the Jumbos competed in their annual alumni game, and Mack felt the team looked good. Sheldon said during the contest he noticed his team ran down the shot clock well and appeared more patient on offense. "We're not going to be as explosive offensively," Mack said. "We're not going to take as many three's." Last year, the Jumbos boasted All-NESCAC center Coupe in the post. And while Martin and Lay are capable of combining forces to make Coupe seem like an afterthought, the two must become more aggressive offensively. "They rebound well, set screens, and make open shots," Mack said. "The big guys are going to have to play more minutes." Overall, the team's success relies on its ability to not turnover the ball. Last year, the Jumbos committed 19 turnovers a game, but this season Mack would like to see that number reduced to ten. If the Jumbos take care of the ball and take good shots, they could be successful. "Look for a team that plays hard on defense," Sheldon said. "That takes the best shot, not necessarily the first shot."
With Saturday's 64-63 heartbreaking semifinal loss to the Williams College Ephs, the eventual winner of the NESCAC championship, the men's basketball team's season came to a close. The Jumbos, in a season marked by many highs and lows, finished with a 12-13 overall record, and a 6-5 conference mark. "I'm definitely happy with the way the season went," senior co-captain Jim Wilson said. "We didn't get the record we wanted or the number of wins, but we had an extremely tough schedule, and we had lots of close games going down to the wire. We have a good base for next year, the program is in very good shape." Despite starting the season 2-5, the Jumbos battled to the bitter end with nationally ranked teams such as Babson (79-76 L) and Wabash (87-81 2ot L), losing both games in the final minutes. The team then went on a road swing for two and a half weeks, playing seven straight away games. The team went 4-3 on the road trip, losing its final game to Brandeis (72-70 L) in a heartbreaker that came down to the final seconds. "The loss against Brandeis was definitely one of the downpoints of the season," sophomore center Craig Coupe said. "We fought hard for the whole game, and we felt we should have come away with the win." The Jumbos, seemingly unfettered by the loss to Brandeis, came back three days later to face the Amherst Lord Jeffs, then the-first ranked team in New England and third ranked team in the country. It was Tufts' first home game in almost three weeks, and the Jumbos fed off their capacity crowd en route to an 83-66 thrashing of the Lord Jeffs. "They came in undefeated, first in the NESCAC and in New England and third in the country," Wilson said. "To beat them at home was huge, it was definitely one of the high points of the season." The Jumbos went into the last two weeks of the season in fifth place in the league, fighting for a shot to host a first round playoff game in the NESCAC tournament. On the second to last weekend of the regular season, Tufts defeated Bowdoin and Colby in its final two home games of the regular season. Those two wins put the Jumbos in third place in the conference going into the final weekend before the playoffs. The Jumbos dropped their final two games on the road to Williams and Middlebury, but in a weird twist of fate, held on to the third place spot and hosted Middlebury in the first round of the playoffs. In that playoff game, the Jumbos took sweet revenge on the Panthers, avenging the prior week's loss with a convincing 89-81 victory in their first NESCAC playoff victory ever. "The Middlebury game was another high point of our season," Wilson said. "Tufts basketball had never won a NESCAC playoff game before, and it was extra special for me to do it at home in front of our fans." The team traveled to Amherst College to try and avenge that weekend's other loss to the Williams College Ephs (76-56 L), ranked third in the nation, first in New England, and second in the NESCAC with a 24-1 overall record. The Jumbos stayed with the Ephs for the entire game, and had their shot to win in the waning seconds. Senior guard Mike McGlynn, arguably the best shooter in the conference, blew by his defender at the top of the key with just six seconds to play and the Jumbos trailing by one. Three Ephs defenders converged on McGlynn, who sent up a shot that rimmed out, ending the Jumbos season. "We had the ball in McGlynn's hands down by one and he had a good look at the hoop. It was pretty much all we could ask for," Wilson said. "We were extremely happy with the way we played." In addition to the team's success, individual Jumbos accomplished impressive feats of their own. Senior co-captain Brian Shapiro became the second active Jumbo to score 1000 points in his career, eclipsing the 1000 point mark against Wheaton College on January 21. McGlynn scored the 1500th point of his career in the Jumbos 83-66 win over Amherst just ten days later. Just two weeks later against Middlebury, McGlynn notched his 303rd three pointer of his career, putting him on the top 20 all time list for division three. McGlynn finished his career with 308 total three pointers. Just two days ago, McGlynn, who led the Jumbos with 17 PPG, was named to the All-NESCAC first team, while Coupe was named to the All-NESCAC second team. Coupe was second on the team in scoring with 13.7 PPG and first on the team and eighth in the country with 11.4 RPG. The Jumbos are confident that they will have the same success next year despite losing five seniors (McGlynn, Shapiro, Wilson, Colin Wetherill, and Bisi Ezeolu) to graduation. "We have a lot of returning guys for next year," Wilson said. "We'll have one of the best front courts in New England with Coupe, [sophomore] Reggie Stovell, Blaine [Lay], Dan Martin, and Scott Armstrong. [Junior] Deyvehn East will step up to the two spot, and Eric Mack, who is probably the best pure point guard on the team, will run the show. We're set up really well, and I'm confident that the team will succeed." "It's hard for me to conceive that I played my last organized basketball game because I have been playing since I was in third grade," Wilson said. "But I came to college, played with a great group of guys and have had some great memories. It's going to be sad to go, but I've had some great memories with this team, which makes it a lot easier."
Coming off last Saturday's dominant performance against Middlebury, the men's basketball team will travel to Amherst to face the Williams College Ephs in the semi-finals of the NESCAC tournament this Saturday at 4 p.m. Amherst College's gymnasium is the neutral site, as the number one seeded Lord Jeffs are the host of the conference's final three games. The conference's other semi-final features the host Jeffs and the fourth seeded Wesleyan Cardinals. The two winners then face off on Sunday at noon for the NESCAC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III national tournament. The Jumbos are preparing to face an extremely talented Williams team. The Ephs are currently ranked first in New England, and third overall in the nation. They are ranked tenth in the nation in scoring, have the 11th fewest points allowed, are first in margin of victory, ninth in three point field goal percentage, and first in rebound margin. In addition, Williams' point guard, junior tri-captain Michael Crotty, is second in the nation in assists with 7.4 per game. Both teams have a very similar style of play -- they like to work the ball from the inside out. The Jumbos are led by sophomore center Craig Coupe, who is averaging 13.8 points per game and is eighth in the nation with 11.5 rebounds per game, senior shooting guards Mike McGlynn and co-captain Brian Shapiro, who average 17.1 and 11.3 points per game respectively. Senior point guard, co-captain Jim Wilson averages ten points, 3.7 rebounds and three assists per game. Meanwhile the Ephs will rely on 6'5 senior co-captain Drew DeMuth, who averages 12 points and nine rebounds per game, along with junior guards Ben Coffin and Chuck Abba, who average 11.8 and 11.4 points per game respectively. Crotty leads the team with 12.5 points per game and 7.4 assists per game. Two weeks ago, the Jumbos traveled to Williamstown in their final regular season contest and were blown out by the Ephs, 76-56. According to coach Bob Sheldon, however, the game was actually a lot closer than the score indicates. "We were only down by seven at halftime," Sheldon said. "In fact, we were down by only seven with about ten or 11 minutes to go. But that's when they broke the game open." Coupe and Wilson led the Jumbos at that game. Coupe finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and a season high five blocks, and Wilson added 13 points and three rebounds. Williams' stingy defense held Tufts leading scorer Mike McGlynn to just one point on 0-12 shooting from the field in 27 minutes. In addition, the Ephs' defense limited the Tufts' usually dominant reserves to just 13 points in a combined 67 minutes of action. However, the circumstances surrounding this weekend's game are extremely different. First of all, the game will be played at Amherst's neutral LeFrak Gymnasium. "The fact that we are playing at Amherst is definitely going to help us because anytime you play at home, you have the advantage because you practice their everyday, and you're used to the gym and the baskets," Sheldon said. "To play Williams at Amherst is also nice because I'm banking on the Amherst kids to cheer for us because of their rivalry with Williams. Also, Williams is 24-1 overall and 17-1 in the conference. Their one loss? At Amherst." The Jumbos also have much more confidence as a team going into this weekend's game. This time around they are coming off a solid performance against the Panthers, whereas Tufts had lost to the same Middlebury team the night before the last Williams game. The Jumbos have also reviewed tape from the Williams game, so they understand the Ephs style of play, and what they need to do to get the win. "After the first game, we realized that they are in fact human and we don't have to play the perfect game to beat them," Sheldon said. "We basically need to minimize our mistakes against them. We can't turn the ball over, we can't give them second chance points, and we can't give them easy transition hoops. The biggest thing for us, however, is for them to believe that we can win, and that we're not intimidated by them."
Coming off two impressive wins last weekend against Bowdoin and Colby, the men's basketball team heads into its last NESCAC weekend sitting in third place and on pace to host a first round NESCAC playoff game. The Jumbos, who are 11-10 overall (5-2, NESCAC), sit only one game behind first place Williams and Amherst, and are a game ahead of Bates, Trinity, and Wesleyan. Tonight, the Jumbos travel to Vermont to take on the 13-9 (2-5, NESCAC) Middlebury Panthers. The Panthers, who have lost three straight contests, are currently ranked seventh in the conference and are barely holding on to one of the final playoff spots. The game may be a closer matchup than these records indicate, however, as the Panthers are a solid 5-2 at home this season, while the Jumbos are a mediocre 7-8 on the road. The Jumbos have defeated the Panthers in two of the past three seasons, including a blowout 113-88 victory at Cousens Gym last year. "Middlebury has a lot of outside shooters," freshman forward Blaine Lay said. "So we've sort of tailored our defensive strategy this week to guard against the outside shot, similar to last weekend. If we beat Middlebury, we will secure a home playoff spot in the NESCAC tournament, so we're really focusing hard on winning this game." After facing Middlebury the Jumbos hit the road once again, travelling to Willams College less than 24 hours later for their final game of the regular season. Williams comes into the game with a stifling 20-1 overall record, and a 6-1 conference record, putting them in a tie atop the NESCAC. Their one loss this season came at the hands of the Amherst Lord Jeffs, their co-leader, just over a month ago. The Ephs are currently ranked third in the nation and first in New England, and are undefeated at home this season. Facing a national powerhouse is nothing new to the Jumbos, who squared off with then number one in the NESCAC, number one in New England, and number three in the nation Amherst just two weeks ago and dominated every facet of the game, en route to winning by 17 points. "We're mainly worrying about Middlebury as of now, but we will definitely be up for Williams because they are one of the top teams in the country," Lay added. "We need to stay focused as a team, and if we beat Middlebury, that'll be three straight wins under our belt and we'll definitely go in there ready to play." Despite being on the road for this stretch, the Jumbos hope to emulate their performance against Amherst this weekend against both Middlebury and Williams. The offense will once again revolve around the inside game of 6'8 sophomore center Craig Coupe, who is second on the team with fourteen points per game. He also leads the team and is 11th in the country with 11 rebounds per game. In addition, the Jumbos also look to the scoring and leadership from senior captains Brian Shapiro and Jim Wilson, and senior guard Mike McGlynn to carry them through the weekend. To be successful this weekend Tufts needs McGlynn, who leads the team with 18 PPG, to be on target, especially against Williams. The guard currently has 302 career three pointers, just one shy of the top-20 all time list for Div. III. McGlynn became a member of the elite 300-club on Senior Day this past Saturday in the Jumbos victory against Colby. The Jumbos offensive weapons don't end with McGlynn either, as the defining trait of this Tufts' team is its depth. Sophomore Reggie Stovell, juniors Deyvehn East and Eric Mack and freshmen Lay and Dan Martin all have contributed greatly to the success over the past two weeks, and will play a huge role in the team's performance this weekend. "I think that having such a deep group of guys gives us the extra confidence that we need because if a starter needs to rest, someone else can come in and play just as hard," Lay added. "In my opinion, we have 8-10 guys that could start on this team and most teams, and not only does it give us the confidence we need in games, but also, in practice, we just work that much harder."
After nearly a month long winter recess, the men's basketball team started off the new year on a positive note, posting wins over Curry College and UMASS Boston before falling this past Saturday night to Plymouth State, bringing the Jumbos to 4-6 on the season. Perhaps benefiting the most from the month off were junior point guard Eric Mack and freshman forward Dan Martin, both of whom began the season on the injured list. "The month off allowed me to catch up to the rest of the team," Mack said. "I've been able to get out and run on my own to get in shape for the season." While neither Mack, who earned the starting job at the beginning of the season before falling to injury, nor Martin is back to full strength, coach Bob Sheldon is slowly working them back into the lineup. Tufts opened its second semester with a 87-77 victory over Curry College. The Jumbos were led by senior guard Mike McGlynn and sophomore center Craig Coupe, who both scored 19 points, with Coupe adding nine rebounds and three assists. Tufts won the game with defense and rebounding, holding the Colonels to just 25 shots in the first half, and dominating them 46-31 on the boards. The victory ended Tufts' two game losing streak, dating back to the before the winter recess. Two nights later, the Jumbos hosted UMass Boston in a battle of local schools, barely squeezing by the Beacons 95-92. Tufts, which gave up 58 second half points to blow a 20 point lead, was once again led by McGlynn, who scored 25, and Coupe, who scored 18 and had 10 rebounds and three assists. Tufts shot 51 percent from the field in the game, but turned the ball over 28 times, allowing the Beacons to claw their way back into the game in the second half. However, late clutch free throw shooting by McGlynn and junior forward Reggie Stovell sealed the victory for Tufts. Again, after only one day of rest, the Jumbos traveled to Salem, MA to face the 6-3 Salem State Vikings, falling in a tough battle, 87-77. The Jumbos were forced to compete without head coach Bob Sheldon, who was absent due to a death in the family. The teams played almost identical first halves, both shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc, but Salem State went on a 12-0 run to end the half, and took the lead 35-31. Both teams continued their hot shooting in the second, but Salem dominated the Jumbos from the free throw line down the stretch, which proved to be the difference in the game. The Vikings went on an 11-0 run with under ten minutes left in the second half, turning a nine point deficit into a two point lead. While the Jumbos were within five points with under a minute to go, four free throws by Viking guards sealed the game for Salem. Tufts was led yet again by McGlynn, who scored 19 points and dished out five assists, and Coupe, who scored 12 points and led the team with eight rebounds. "Over this three game stretch, we have certainly not played up to our potential," Mack said. "I mean, we played okay, but we definitely could have played better." The loss ended Tufts' two-game winning streak, and put it at 4-6 overall on the season going into its first NESCAC match up this season at Connecticut College. Despite falling to the Camels in each of the past three years, the Jumbos are confident going into the weekend. "We are going to beat both Connecticut College and Wesleyan," Mack said.
The men's basketball team came within a shot of pulling off the biggest upset of its season, but the visiting Keene State Owls forced two turnovers in the final five seconds to hold on for an 88-85 victory last night at Cousens Gym. Keene State, the number-one ranked team in New England, improved to 17-1 with the win, while the Jumbos fell to 10-8 heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. After battling back from a four-point deficit, the Jumbos took an 82-81 lead on a free throw by junior guard Jim Wilson with 2:34 remaining. But Keene State retook the lead on a three-pointer from senior David Strantial, who had a game-high 28 points including seven threes. On its next possession, Tufts had trouble moving the ball, and could not find an open shot. Keene came away with a steal, and sophomore Chris Timson banked in a shot to push the lead to four. Junior guard Mike McGlynn responded with a his fifth three of the game with 15.4 seconds remaining to get the Jumbos back within a point. Tufts fouled immediately, sending Timson to the line for two shots. He missed both, leaving the door open, but Tufts could not capitalize, and turned the ball over with 2.7 seconds left. The Jumbos fouled again, and this time sophomore guard Bennett Pawlusiak hit both free throws to give Keene a three-point lead with 1.9 seconds on the clock. Tufts had one final opportunity to tie, but never even got the ball inbounds, throwing the ball away again to give Keene the 88-85 win. The defeat was the second heartbreaker in less than a week for the Jumbos, who lost 88-87 to Trinity Friday on a last second put-back by the Bantams. The Jumbos played their second consecutive game without junior guard Brian Shapiro, who is expected to return for this weekend's contests. Junior Lee Neugebauer missed the game due to an illness, and is also expected back. "We played hard - we battled. They're the number-one team in New England, and we took them all the way down," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We're in our gym, and we weren't going to lay down for anybody. But I wouldn't call it a moral victory. It would be if we were winning and had some things going for us, but we just lost like that to Trinity, and now we did it again here. We need to get those." Keene started the game on fire, hitting five three pointers - three of them from Stantial - in the first 3:31 to jump out to an early 17-9 advantage. But the Jumbos responded with a run of their own, rattling off ten straight points to go up 19-17. "We settled down, started making some good passes, and started breaking their press," Sheldon said of his team's sudden turnaround. But that press plagued Tufts all night, as Keene forced 18 turnovers, 15 of them coming off steals. Especially without guards Brian Shapiro and Phil Barlow, the Jumbos had difficulty moving the ball down the floor, and at many points were unable to find open shots. "The press was a little bit of a problem," Sheldon said. "Phil and Brian are a big part of us breaking a press, because they're so athletic. Phil goes right through that thing. If we have Phil they don't press half the time they did. And Brian's so athletic that he gets through and instead of just getting it over, he'll attack and score. Losing Brian was a big difference today." Despite Tufts' problems with the press, the two teams remained neck-and-neck through the rest of the period, with neither leading by more than three at any point. Keene's offense sputtered down the stretch, and the Owls managed just 36.1 percent shooting in the first half. But Timson, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, hit two free throws to give Keene a 39-38 edge with 33.5 seconds before the break. Tufts held for the last shot, and freshman Craig Coupe followed through with an inside lay-in as time expired to take a 40-39 lead into the locker room. Tufts stepped up the intensity even more coming out of the break, out-scoring the Owls 18-7 to stretch the lead as high as 12. But the Jumbos were unable to finish off their opponents, allowing them to get back into the game by scoring the next 13 points to take a 59-58 lead. A free throw from Wilson evened the score at 59 with 9:59 left, and Tufts put together a 10-3 run to get back to a six-point lead. The junior finished the night with a team-high 21 points, his fifth consecutive game in double-digits. He also led in rebounds and assists, with 11 and five, respectively. But Keene battled back once again, led by Stantial, who had 17 of his team's 22 points in the final 7:14. His NBA-distance three-pointer with 6:11 on the clock gave Keene State a one-point lead, at 73-72, which he would extend to four, at 80-76, two minutes later. Tufts scored the next five, and Pawluski hit a free throw to bring the game to an 81-81 tie with 2:26 to play. Tufts had four players in double-digits, including Wilson. McGlynn finished with 19 points, while freshman Reggie Stovell had 12 and junior Kyle Van Natta had 11. Coupe had nine points, ten rebounds, and three blocks on the night. The Jumbos will return to conference play this weekend, as they travel to Maine to face Colby and Bowdoin.
Fame and stardom await the Tufts men's basketball team, now that Somerville and Medford residents will be able to see their games on local cable channels. Tufts University Television (TUTV), which began broadcasting the games on campus two weeks ago, debuted the off-campus feed last night. "This is extremely big for the image of Tufts," said executive producer and play-by-play announcer Tommy Calvert. "In addition, it will be a boost to the men's basketball program, which will get exposure to tens of thousands of people in the greater Boston area." He said that permanent time slots should be finalized by next week. Athletics Director Bill Gehling said that the larger audience would increase support for Tufts sports but would not affect attendance at games. "People come to the game to be at the game," he said. "I do think our team plays an attractive type of basketball." Calvert said that he's already seeing the campus get into the televised games. "I think students have already begun to watch it on the Tufts campus," he said. "I've been told people are watching it in their rooms... people are really starting to turn it on not only as individuals, but as groups." Aside from broadcasting the games; TUTV program features a halftime and post-game show. They will update viewers on other Tufts teams, as well as air interviews with players and coaches. Former Tufts football player Harry Pierre anchors the halftime and post-game show. Daily editors Jon Japha, Neal McMahon, and Neil Taylor, and writer Elliot Wiley will also contribute to the program. "Our program will really show the student athlete that is on the floor and the hard interviews, half time, post game show - you'll see what type of individual the Tufts student represents," Calvert said of the announcing plans. "This shouldn't be understated just because it's on cable access," he added. The production side of the program will benefit from producer Eli Kazin's experience. Kazin, a senior, learned the ins and outs of producing a show when he worked with NBC Sports. He is currently working at the Boston Globe. "Tufts students will see a top-notch production in these broadcast unlike anything they've seen on TUTV before," he said. Calvert believes that broadcasting the games will help reach out to the Tufts community. "I think it means a lot in terms of improving relations with the community, to put some more context to student life and to what goes on at the University for some of the people in Medford or Somerville." Calvert said that some residents may perceive the students as "party animals" and that the broadcasts can help to change that. The two home games this weekend against Connecticut College and Wesleyan will be aired at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. Medford residents can see the games on channel 3, and Somerville residents can support the Jumbos on channel 43.
The men's basketball team headed into conference competition this weekend, tied for first place in the NESCAC with a record of 10-5, to go along with a 1-0 conference mark. The Jumbos came home on Saturday, standing alone in seventh place in the conference, with a 10-7 record (1-2 NESCAC). Tufts fell in heartbreaking fashion to Trinity (12-3, 3-1) on Friday, 87-88, after junior guard Brian Shapiro went down with an apparent twisted knee and was lost for the weekend. In the aftermath of the Trinity defeat, the Jumbos took on Amherst (13-4, 2-2) without Shapiro but could not find their rhythm, as the Lord Jeffs rolled to an easy 86-71 victory. "Shapiro's kind of our nucleus; he does a lot for us," junior Kyle Van Natta said. "We practice a certain way all season, and we had to change everything when he came out of the game. We didn't really know who was going to take the shots." Shapiro went down during the Trinity game, and was forced to sit for the second half. His injury came in a game won with 2.1 seconds to go, as Trinity senior center Bryan Dion tipped in a three-point attempt by senior Colin Tabb. The Jumbos had just gone ahead by one point with ten seconds to go, when senior Jim Wilson nailed a shot from downtown for three of his 22 points. Without Shapiro or sophomore point guard Phil Barlow, who is out for the season with a broken foot, much of the scoring pressure fell on junior guard Mike McGlynn. McGlynn responded, scoring a team-high 24 points, including his 1000th of his career. Also in double figures was freshman center Craig Coupe, who added 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Tabb, last week's NESCAC player of the week led all scorers with 25 points despite shooting 4-20 from the field including 0-10 from downtown. Tabb's scoring came mostly at the foul line, as the senior was 17-17 from the charity stripe. The loss came even amidst one of Tufts best shooting performances of the season. The Jumbos shot 57.4 percent from the floor including an impressive 10-19 from three-point range. "The effort was definitely there," Van Natta said. "I think we all played our hearts out." Though Shapiro's status was not certain following the loss to Trinity, the sharpshooter was experiencing pain Saturday morning and was unable to participate in the contest against Amherst.It did not take Amherst long to capitalize on Shapiro's absence, as the Jeff's opened up the game with a 30-5 romp over the first 10:36. The Jeffs were 10-13 from the floor during the run, while the Jumbos committed 11 of their 16 first half turnovers. "I think the first half was a combination of the heartbreaker at Trinity and not having Shapiro," Van Natta said. "We just didn't know who was going to take the shots." Both teams seemed to settle down for the remainder of the half, though the Amherst lead remained around 25. The Jeffs shot 68 percent from the field in the first half, including an amazing 7-10 from three point range to enter the break with a 52-26 lead. While Tufts was able to put forth a strong defensive effort and cut the lead to 15 with 8:01 remaining to play, it proved too little too late. The Jeffs went on an 8-0 run, upping the lead to 23, and would lead by no less than 19 for the rest of the game. With Shapiro out, McGlynn once again assumed the bulk of the shooting duties, leading all scorers with 26. Joining McGlynn in double figures for Tufts were freshman Reggie Stovell and junior Colin Wetherill, each with 13. Wilson also contributed ten points coming off the bench. An encouraging sign over the weekend, despite the losses, was the production from the bench. Wilson contributed 32 points over the course of the weekend, and Wetherill 17, both coming off of the bench. Stovell, who started on Saturday, also added 17 points on the weekend. "The bench was definitely huge," Van Natta said. "There's so much scouting in the NESCAC that the bench is really important. Other teams focus on the starters and the stars, so they're not expecting that much from the bench." Scouting may have been, in large part, the reason for Coupe's lower numbers on the weekend. Coupe entered the game averaging 12.9 points per game, as well as 8.9 rebounds. Against Trinity, Coupe managed 11 points and 6 rebounds, but against Amherst contributed only four points and four rebounds. "Coupe's still a freshman and he's been scouted a lot," Van Natta said. "He was getting swarmed out there and it's just something he has to get accustomed to. I'm not worried about him." Tufts will look to get back on track with a non-conference matchup against Keene State on Tuesday at home. The Jumbos' next conference competition comes next weekend during a trip to Maine, where the team will visit first-place Bowdoin and eighth-place Colby.
After three straight victories, the men's basketball team continued its winning ways last night against Brandeis in Cousens Gym. The Jumbos placed five different players in double figures en route to a 92-80 thumping of the Judges. The win was the fourth in a row for Tufts, improving its record to 9-4 on the season while Brandeis fell to 5-7. Coach Bob Sheldon's victory was led by junior Brian Shapiro's 24 points, as well as 21 points and 17 rebounds by freshman center Craig Coupe. Junior transfer student and leading scorer Mike McGlynn chipped in 19 points and four steals in his first game against his former team. "It was really good for Mike," Sheldon said. "He played well, and it was nice to get him a win." The Jumbos entered the game fired up and jumped out to a quick 21-12 lead. But the Judges promptly went on a 12-1 run and turned the deficit into a 24-23 lead with 10:30 remaining in the first half. The momentum changed hands multiple time throughout the first half, and Brandeis went up 34-30 with 7:08 to play for their largest lead of the game. But a McGlynn three pointer at 4:27 gave Tufts the lead, 37-34, which it held on to for the remainder of the game. A pair of three pointers by Shapiro and junior Lee Neugebauer sent the Jumbos into the second half with a 47-40 lead. The Judges wasted little time in reducing the deficit, moving to within one point at 55-54 with 14:25 remaining to play. Tufts would score 12 of the game's next 15 points, however, including nine from McGlynn to go up 67-57 at 11:51. The Jumbos continued to build their lead over the Judges, as Shapiro found Coupe cutting through the paint for two points that put the Jumbos up 74-62. A three off the glass and lay-up from Shapiro gave Tufts its biggest lead of the game, 82-64 with 6:59 remaining. Even so, Brandeis managed to stay within striking distance until the final minute. The Judges reduced the lead to single digits with just over two minutes remaining, but the perimeter game of the Jumbos ultimately proved to be much for the Judges to handle. A three by Shapiro with one minute left increased the margin to 89-77, and then another by Neugebauer put the final nail in the coffin. The Jumbos won with five players in double-digits scoring and 49 percent shooting. Tufts played the game without sophomore point guard Phil Barlow, who will be out for the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot. The Jumbos will have adjust to compensate for the loss of Barlow's 10 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. "Without Phil, we're just different," Sheldon said. "We can't score as much from that position, but we'll get more shots for Coupe and Brian and Mike." Without the talented point guard, ball handling responsibilities will likely fall on Neugebauer and sophomore Eric Mack. The team will also have to rely more heavily on its two sharp shooters, Shapiro and McGlynn, as well as the inside presence of Coupe. More shots for Coupe could certainly be beneficial for the team, as the freshman is averaging nearly 20 points in his last four games. "[Coupe] is getting stronger and improving," Sheldon said. "The guys are looking in to him a lot more now." The victory over Brandeis featured the Jumbos' run-and-gun style of play as well as a dominating inside game. The Jumbos attempted 26 shots from beyond the arc, but also had 21 points from the center. The team seems to be finding a nice balance between the two styles of play after appearing to rely on only one or the other earlier in the season. "Part of it is that we're still young," Sheldon said. "Coming into the season, only Phil and Brian have really played in their positions before. McGlynn and Coupe are both totally new, and it takes a little while to get them in the system." Tufts is finding the balance at a very good time in the season as the Jumbos enter a busy five weeks and begin play against NESCAC opponents. The squad hosts UMASS-Dartmouth on Thursday, and begins its NESCAC schedule on Saturday, facing off against Bates at home.
When Phil Barlow, the sophomore point guard for the men's basketball team, first injured his left ankle in a pickup game last summer, he was assured that with proper rest the injury would eventually heal itself. Unfortunately for the Jumbos, this mending never occurred. After ten games and oftentimes excruciating pain, Barlow underwent surgery last Friday and was lost for the season. As the squad enters the integral NESCAC portion of its schedule, it will do so without the services of an important cog from its early season success. Even while hampered by his injury, Barlow managed to lead the team in minutes played, steals (which he also leads the NESCAC in), and assists. "This is a really tough loss for us," coach Bob Sheldon said. "He's like our quarterback; he calls the plays, he runs the plays, he distributes the ball. We'll also miss him on defense." Barlow entered this season with great expectations after a stellar freshman campaign where he began the season as the team's sixth man and eventually won a starting job. In ten games this year, Barlow averaged 9.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.5 steals per game, while heading a fast-paced, aggressive offense. Perhaps Barlow's best game of the year came in the Jumbos' early-season, overtime victory against perennially tough Salem State. Barlow netted 16 points while picking up 8 rebounds and recording 5 steals. Yet even while playing crisp basketball, Barlow was in constant pain. "It hurt all the time," Barlow said. "I think I felt it the most the day after a game. It was always there." One aspect of his game the injury did affect was his shooting. Barlow shot a mere 32 percent from the floor this year, and only 26 percent from behind the arc - meager outputs for one of the team's leaders in shots. "When I was injured over the summer, I was off the foot for three full months," Barlow said. "By the time I was ready to play, the season was about to start, and my shot was rusty. I never really regained my touch." With Barlow out, starting point guard duties shift to junior Lee Neugebauer, Barlow's backup during the early portion of this season. Backup duties now fall on the shoulders of sophomore Eric Mack. While an entirely different player than Barlow, Neugebauer has the confidence of his coach - who said that Lee knows the game and the Jumbos' offense in and out - and his teammates. "Since Phil's injury, Lee has shown a lot," captain Bobby MacMannis said. "When he was backing up Phil early on, I think he was a little nervous out there. Since taking over, his confidence has really improved." Neugebauer says he plays a game that is basically opposite to Barlow's. "I have to concentrate to play my game and not try to play the way Phil does. My game is passing, setting up the offense, hitting open shots, while containing my man on defense and not allowing penetration." While the team's offensive sets will remain in place, the shot distribution will undoubtedly change. Isolation plays once run through Barlow will now go to Junior Brian Shapiro, the team's second leading scorer. Junior Mike McGlynn, leading the Jumbos with an average of 16 points per game, will assume additional offensive duties. Yet by far the player whose role will change the most significantly is freshman big man Craig Coupe, who the team will expect to play a more prominent role on offense."Coupe will definitely be getting more shots," Neugebauer said. "Since I've come in we've instituted more plays for him since he's been playing so well." In coach Sheldon's tenure at Tufts, he has never endured a season-ending injury to as key a player as Barlow. Though his loss is a difficult setback, he remains confident in his team's chances. "This is a tough league," Sheldon said. "Every game is a war, and if you're not ready, you will lose every time. The loss of Phil isn't easy, but the timing wasn't terrible. We got to play three or four games without Phil, and we know Lee and Eric can do it." "The last few games before the heart of the NESCAC have really been beneficial for me," Neugebauer said. "I've been getting used to playing 25 to 30 minutes per game instead of the ten to15 I was getting when I was backing up Phil. The NESCAC is always so competitive but I really feel like I've gotten the boost I need to continue to play solid basketball." As for Phil Barlow's prognosis, the future is bright. "I'll be all healed and ready to go next season," Barlow said. "The doctors told me there is no reason that I shouldn't gain back all my speed and movement."
The men's basketball season ended abruptly last Tuesday, as the Jumbos fell to the Williams Ephs 81-57. Despite leading by 11 points in the first half, Tufts shot an abysmal 30 percent from the field in the second half and were eliminated in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. The team finished the season with a disappointing 12-13 record, 3-6 in the NESCAC. "It's definitely disappointing to finish under 500, especially with some of the talent we had," junior Brian Shapiro said. "Losing our last three games was also a big disappointment." Though the Jumbos lost several key players to graduation last year, including co-captain and leading scorer Dan Flaherty, and co-captain Bobby Mpuku, the team had high expectations beginning the year. With junior transfer student Mike McGlynn joining Shapiro and sophomore point guard Phil Barlow, Tufts looked to be a high-powered, run-and-gun team. The game plan at the beginning of the season was fairly simple for Bob Sheldon's team - shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. The team's goal early in the season was to have upwards of 30 attempts from behind the arc. The plan implemented from the start, as the Jumbos averaged 25.6 three-point attempts through the first five games of the season. The plan appeared to be a good one, as the Jumbos headed into winter break sporting a 5-3 record. McGlynn established himself as a top-scoring threat for the Jumbos during the opening games of the season, particularly in a 100-96 overtime win against Salem State, in which McGlynn poured in 26 points. However, while Tufts' sharpshooters were effective during this opening stretch, a surprising inside threat was also developing for the Jumbos. Craig Coupe, 6'7", established himself as a force down low, starting in the first game of the season, in which he scored ten points. Despite this newly discovered inside game, however, the Jumbos remained focused on the outside shot. The Jumbos experienced a season-altering loss during the winter recess, however, as Barlow went down with a foot injury. Barlow re-aggravated a foot originally broken during the summer, and required season-ending surgery. "Losing Phil was the biggest thing that happened to us," Shapiro said. "The point guard controls everything on the floor - especially Phil because he's so quick and smart." With Barlow out, it left junior Lee Neugebauer and sophomore Eric Mack with the bulk of the ball handling duties. Neither Neugebauer nor Mack proved to be the same scoring threat as Barlow, forcing the offense to focus more inside, as well as the perimeter game. "It was kind of a sudden thing to not have (Barlow)," Coupe said. "But I think Eric and Lee stepped up and played to the best of their abilities." The loss of one of their top scorers put more pressure on McGlynn, Shapiro, and Coupe to carry the team's offense. All three responded well, but particularly McGlynn. After Barlow's injury, McGlynn went on to average 18 points per game, including 23.6 points in NESCAC contests. He also led the NESCAC in three-point percentage, shooting 48.3 percent from downtown, en route to breaking Tufts single-season record for three pointers with 99. "Losing Phil probably affected Mike the most, because he had to become a more complete player," Coupe said. "He couldn't just be a pure shooter." In the second half of the season, the Jumbos found another presence down low in the form of freshman Reggie Stovell. Stovell proved to be a good compliment to Coupe inside, and went on to average 9.3 points in conference games. Combined with the loss of Barlow and inconsistent shooting from many players, this seemed to switch the game plan to include the newfound inside presence. "We didn't realize the impact Coupe would make at the beginning of the season," Shapiro said. "But once we saw what he could do we realized it would be better to go inside to him more. Plus McGlynn was really the only one shooting consistently all season from outside, so we had to go inside more." Also emerging in the second half of the season for the Jumbos was junior Jim Wilson. Wilson took over the majority of the point guard duties, and averaged 11.4 points in NESCAC games. Barlow's injury came at a particularly inopportune time for the Jumbos, as Tufts began its NESCAC schedule just four games later. The team began it's conference schedule with an overtime victory against Bates College on Jan. 19, 111-104. The Jumbos would go on to struggle in their conference, however, and finished with a 3-6 NESCAC record. Though the team finished three games below 500 in their conference, it was still able to nab the seventh and final spot in the conference tournament. The postseason proved to be very short-lived for the Jumbos, after last Tuesday's loss to Williams. The season was the last for senior co-captains Bobby MacMannis and Bruce Reese and senior Kevin Reade. Though the trio did not play a significant amount during the season, the seniors proved to be emotional leaders. "It did affect the team a little, that they didn't play very much, because sometimes you just need that one guy on the court when things are tough," Coupe said. "But they were both solid leaders in practice. Bobby led more by example, diving around and hustling after balls." Though the loss of the team's seniors will not hurt the team a great deal in terms of scoring, their work ethic and leadership will be sorely missed. "We'll miss the attitude they brought, more than anything," Shapiro said. "They always played really hard." As the team is not losing significant scoring, and this year's freshmen now have a full season under their belt, the Jumbos are hopeful for next season. "We're looking forward to it," Shapiro said. "We're only losing a few guys, and if we can stay healthy we should be at the top of the NESCAC." McGlynn will look to repeat his impressive offensive performance this year, and Coupe and Stovell will likely only be stronger with experience. This, combined with freshmen recruits, could spell success for the Jumbos. "I think it could be a really special season where we go really far," Coupe said. "We have a lot of guys coming back. If we all focus on one common goal and make sacrifices we can be very successful."