Juniors Brian Shapiro and Mike McGlynn combined for 22 points over the last nine minutes, including overtime, to give the Jumbos a 111-104 win over the Bates Bobcats Saturday afternoon. Tufts improved to 10-5 with the win, rebounding from Thursday's 20-point loss to UMass-Dartmouth. The game snapped the Bobcats' eight-game winning streak, while the Jumbos picked up their first conference victory of the season. "It was a great win," coach Sheldon said. "They threw a lot of stuff at us, but we answered everything. It was like a big heavyweight battle out there. But I wasn't worried too much about bouncing back because I knew that we'd get into league play and we'd be at home, so we'd be okay." The Jumbos trailed 83-75 with under four minutes remaining, but a three-pointer from McGlynn, who had a season-high 31 on the day, kicked off a 13-5 Tufts run which closed out regulation with a tie at 88. After the Bobcats hit one of two from the line, the Jumbos converted on six consecutive free throws to even the score at 84. Two of those came on a flagrant foul called on Bates guard Brian Gerrity for stepping on freshman Craig Coupe's head after the two fell to the floor. The foul sparked the Jumbos' emotions and skyrocketed their level of intensity. "I think we needed something like that to get us fired up," Shapiro said. "We'd been playing a little flat, and we outscored them by a lot after that happened, so we definitely stepped up hardcore." Shapiro scored five of the team's last six points in regulation, and continued the surge as the overtime period opened. He connected from downtown to start the scoring before hitting junior guard Jim Wilson on an alley-oop lay-in to give Tufts a five-point lead. After a Bates jumper made it 93-90, Shapiro hit another three to push the lead to six, and the Bobcats would not get within a single possession again. Tufts went 11-12 from the free throw line in overtime to seal the victory. "I wasn't doing too much at the beginning, so it was nice to contribute towards the end like that," Shapiro said. "Mike McGlynn, too, kept us in the game in regulation. We all worked together and fought back." Tufts was up by four at the half, and pushed the lead to as high as eight on a steal and fast-break lay-up by Shapiro with 16:27 to play. But the Bobcats clawed their way back into the game, pulling to within one at 65-64. Wilson, who finished with a career-high 21, hit two free throws to take the lead back to three, but Bates then rattled off 11 straight points to go up 75-67. McGlynn hit two of his seven threes on consecutive possessions to bring the Jumbos back within two. But Bates answered with a run of its own, pushing the score to 83-75 with 4:25 to go before Tufts' run down the stretch. The two teams got off to a slow start, with the Jumbos scoring just twice in the first four minutes. But both sides slowly heated up, and remained neck-and-neck until a 6-0 Bates run halfway through the period made it 26-20. The Bobcats held the advantage through most of the half, leading by as many as nine, at 43-34, with five minutes left. But Tufts caught fire as the period came to a close, scoring 15 points in the last 3:35 to go into the break up 54-50. The Jumbos shot a blistering 55.9 percent in the first half, including 7-13 from downtown. McGlynn led the charge with 13, while Wilson had nine and Shapiro and freshman Reggie Stovell had eight apiece. The four, along with Coupe, all finished the game in double-digits. Shapiro, who ended up with 23, also had eight assists and seven rebounds, while Coupe finished with 12 points, 15 boards, and six blocked shots. McGlynn was 8-14 on the day (7-11 three pointers) and 8-8 from the line. Bates had six players in double figures, led by senior forward Alex Wilson, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Ramon Garcia, with 18 points and six assists. Tufts' 111 points were the most for a Jumbo team since a 112-80 win over Bates five years ago. Another positive for the Jumbos was their 17 turnovers - two fewer than the 19 they had in the first half of Thursday night's game, when they finished with 31. "We talked about it and worked a little bit in practice, but I think it was more of a mental thing," Sheldon said of his team's improvement in holding onto the ball. "I think we were just ready to play more [Saturday]." The Jumbos will not play again until Friday, when they travel to Trinity to face the Bantams. Tufts will then move to Amherst Saturday before returning home to host Keene State the following Tuesday.
For the second consecutive weekend, the men's basketball team split a pair of NESCAC games. On Friday, the Jumbos fell to the Williams Ephs, ranked 24th in the nation, by a score of 85-69. Williams now stands in third place in the NESCAC with a 19-4 record (6-2 NESCAC) after losing to Bates College on Saturday. Following the loss to Williams, Tufts took on Middlebury on Saturday, and came back from a six-point halftime deficit to win, 103-88. Middlebury fell to 11-12 (3-5) and dropped into seventh place in the NESCAC. Tufts emerged from the weekend with a 12-10 overall record, to go along with a 3-4 conference mark. The Jumbos are currently tied with Amherst for fifth place in the NESCAC, and are in good standing for a postseason birth. On Friday, Williams jumped out to an early 7-5 lead on a three pointer by junior co-captain Tim Folan at 17:18 in the first half. The Ephs would not trail again for the remainder of the game. Williams led by as many as 11 points on three different occasions in the first half. The last of these came following a three-point shot by sophomore Michael Crotty that put the Ephs up 48-37 with 1:14 left in the half. Crotty was 4-6 from three-point land with 14 points in the first half, en route to a 25 point performance on the night. Two free throws from junior Mike McGlynn, who scored 17 points in the first half for Tufts, closed the gap to nine points, sending the Jumbos into halftime trailing 48-39. In the second half, Tufts came within eight points after a layup by freshman Craig Coupe made the score 52-44. Williams quickly extended the lead to 15 before McGlynn nailed back-to-back three pointers to bring the deficit back down to nine, 61-52 with 13:49 left to play. The Jumbos would get no closer, however, as the Ephs would lead by as many as 19 on their way to the 16 point victory. "We fought hard, but we made some mental mistakes," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We'd make a comeback and get it down to 11 or ten or nine, and then we'd throw it away. We'd play a good stand of defense, and then we'd throw the outlet away. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot." McGlynn led all scorers in the game, finishing with 26 points. Junior Jim Wilson was the only other Jumbo in double figures, tallying ten points on the night. Coupe added nine points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in the effort. Against Middlebury, the Jumbos trailed for nearly the entire first half, after the Panthers went up 7-6 at 16:54. Middlebury shot 20-22 from the free throw line during the first stanza, and junior Eric Bundonis finished the half with 22 points, as the Panthers led 51-45 at the break. In the second half, the Jumbos took their first lead since the early minutes of the game when a McGlynn three put Tufts up 59-58 with 15:08 remaining to play. The McGlynn three was part of a 10-0 run by the Jumbos which gave them a 64-58 lead at 13:10. The Panthers fought back to tie the score at 73, but sophomore Deyvehn East hit a jumper to ignite a 9-1 run, which was capped by a three pointer by junior Brian Shapiro. The burst left the Jumbos up 82-74 with 6:33 remaining in the game. Middlebury managed to narrow the gap to 84-80 with 5:12 remaining, but Tufts proved too much to handle. The Jumbos extended their lead to 91-80 and didn't look back as they reached the century mark for the third time this season. McGlynn lead the way once again for Tufts with 25 points as one of five Jumbos in double figures. Shapiro followed McGlynn with 24 points, and East contributed career-high 15. Coupe and freshman Reggie Stovell each registered double doubles, with ten rebounds each and 12 and ten points respectively. Bundonis led all scorers with 28 points, while McGlynn totaled 51 points over the course of the weekend, continuing his torrid stretch of play in NESCAC games. "It's phenomenal because in NESCACs they scout the hell out of everybody," Sheldon said. "They know coming in that he's gonna fire threes, and he's still getting 23 or 24 points a game. He's a great player, and he's doing a good job for us. We're gonna keep getting him the ball as much as we can." The win over Middlebury puts the Jumbos in a good position heading into the end of the season. The top seven teams in the NESCAC make the tournament; Tufts currently stands in fifth place, ahead of Middlebury. With the toughest part of its schedule already over, the Jumbos are optimistic for the future. Tufts does not play again until next weekend, when the team will finish the regular season with two home NESCAC showdowns. On Friday, the Jumbos will host Weslyan at 7 p.m., and on Saturday they will take on Connecticut College at 3 p.m.
The men's basketball team split the first two games of the season at this weekend's Equinox Classic in Swarthmore, PA, losing 77-60 to the host Garnet Tide Friday before bouncing back to take out Haverford 75-53 on Saturday. On Saturday, both teams started off slow offensively, with Tufts holding a slim 23-22 lead with 2:16 remaining in the first half. But the Jumbos got things moving as the half drew to a close, scoring the next 14 points in a run that stretched through halftime. Tufts maintained a double-digit lead through the remainder of the game, shooting a blistering 56.7 percent in the second half to extend the margin to as high as 18. Junior guard Mike McGlynn led the charge for Tufts, scoring 18 points on 7-11 shooting, including four out of five from three-point range. The Jumbos hit seven of 18 three-point attempts (38.9 percent) on the day, a large improvement over Friday night's game, when the team shot just 15.4 percent from downtown. Senior co-captain Bobby MacMannis was perfect from the floor, going 5-5 for 11 points. Junior Jim Wilson was the only other Jumbo in double-digits, with ten points, to go along with four rebounds and an assist. Despite losing a majority of their inside presence to graduation, the Jumbos held their own on the boards. Tufts out-rebounded Haverford 34-31, with 13 different players pulling down at least one. The Jumbos also controlled the ball well, turning it over just 12 times compared to Haverford's 26. In Friday's game against Swarthmore, Tufts was hurt by stone-cold shooting from the floor, as the team hit just seven of 31 shots (22.6 percent) in the first half. The team trailed by 14 at the break, and despite better shooting in the second frame (12-28, 42.9 percent) could not close the gap, losing 77-60. The Jumbos' attempts to get things going on the outside resulted in an abysmal 4-26 from behind the arc on the night, and junior Brian Shapiro and sophomore Phil Barlow combined to go just 4-21 from the floor, including 2-13 on three pointers. The two led the team with ten and 11 points, respectively, but most of their scoring came from the free-throw line. Shapiro also committed six of the team's 18 turnovers. Coach Bob Sheldon did get a chance to see some of his new talent in action, however, as 17 of the team's 18 players got playing time in the game. Freshman center Craig Coupe, the team's largest player at 6'7", 225, led the way, scoring ten points on 4-7 shooting. He also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds in 22 minutes in his first collegiate appearance. Fellow freshman Reggie Stovell also grabbed seven boards, while McGlynn and Wilson each had seven points. The Jumbos open their home schedule Sunday at 7 p.m., hosting Salem State in their first game on the new floor in Cousens Gym.
The men's basketball team suffered its second loss of the season Saturday night when it came out on the short end of an 80-74 game at Springfield College. With the loss, the Jumbos drop to 3-2 on the year, while Springfield improves to 2-2. While the final score was close, it took a late Tufts run to bring the Jumbos within striking distance as time ran down. The Pride maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half and held a ten-point advantage with 2:25 remaining in the game. Tufts scored the next five points, as sophomore guard Phil Barlow fed freshman center Craig Coupe on an inside lay-up and junior transfer Mike McGlynn hit a three on the Jumbos' next possession. But that was as close as Tufts would get, as Springfield went a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line in the final 1:12 to lock up the victory. Tufts took the lead at the start, racing out to an 8-2 lead in the early going. Junior guard Brian Shapiro provided the offense for the Jumbos by converting on two of three three-point attempts then adding a lay-up off a steal by sophomore Phil Barlow. But the Pride came marching back and pulled ahead just two minutes later, and the teams traded buckets to push the score to a 13-13 tie. Shapiro then hit a three to give the Jumbos the lead, but Springfield immediately went on a 12-2 run that was capped off by two three pointers by senior tri-captain John Gleason. The Pride continued to knock down their shots and extended the margin to double digits with 6:29 left. It was high as 20 on a jumper by Gleason with 3:02 to play before the break. But McGlynn hit a trio of three pointers as the half came to a close, cutting the lead down to 13 as the teams headed to the locker room. The Jumbos lived and died from the perimeter in the first half, taking a total of 20 three pointers, hitting seven of them (35 percent). The Pride took half as many, but were on fire from behind the arc, and also sunk seven (70 percent). Springfield shot a blistering 54.5 percent from the floor in the opening period. Gleason headed up the charge with 17 of his team's 48 points, including a perfect 5-5 from downtown. But Tufts was able to slowly chip away at Springfield's lead in the second half. It lowered the margin to single digits on a free throw by freshman Craig Coupe with 15:35 remaining and as low as seven on a jumper by freshman Reggie Stovell a minute later. But Springfield refused to let the Jumbos back into the game and rebuilt their lead back up to 14 with 7:22 left on a jumper by senior forward Michael Parker, who had ten points in the second half. Shapiro followed that shot with a three to cut the lead to 11, but Tufts hit a wall after that, and was not able score a single point over the next three minutes. The Jumbos put together one last push down the final stretch to make things interesting, but could not complete the comeback. Shapiro led the Jumbos on offense with 21 points on 8-19 shooting, including 5-15 on three pointers. McGlynn added another 18, while Coupe contributed 12 and a team-high six rebounds. Stovell also finished in double digits, hitting five of eight for ten points. Barlow had a season-high ten assists to go with his seven points. The biggest difference in scoring between the two teams came at the free throw line. The Jumbos got to the stripe just eight times on the day, with Coupe shooting a ice-cold 2-7 (28.6 percent) and Shapiro missing Tufts' only other shot. The Pride, while not spectacular at 61.5 percent, Springfield got to the line 26 times, resulting in 16 points. Tufts was also out-muscled on the inside, as Parker pulled down a game-high 15 boards to give the Pride a 42-34 advantage in rebounds. The Jumbos will look to get back on the right track tomorrow night when they travel to Babson to take on the 4-1 Beavers. The team returns home Thursday to host MIT in its second home game of the season.
After splitting its first two games of the season last week, the men's basketball team opened its season at home Sunday night with an exciting 100-96 overtime victory over the Salem State Vikings. The Jumbos, now 2-1, shot 53.5 percent from the field, including 48.1 percent from three-point land (13-27), en route to their highest point total of the young season. Junior transfer student Mike McGlynn, playing in his first game in Cousens Gym as a Jumbo, led the way for Tufts with 26 points. McGlynn was 9-12 from the field and an 6-9 from beyond the arc. Junior Brian Shapiro also chipped in 19 points and five assists. Despite leading early, it took overtime for Tufts to pull out the victory. After Salem State junior Victor Paulino missed a jumper and Tufts sophomore Phil Barlow's desperation three bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded, the teams entered the extra frame tied at 85. In overtime, the Jumbos shot a blistering 71.4 percent, and Shapiro's three at 2:36 put Tufts up 96-90. Salem State would get as close as 96-93, but Tufts was able to hold on down the stretch to notch the victory against the highly touted Vikings. "They're ranked high, but they actually lost last week to Franklin and Marshall, which is ranked fourth in the nation, in a pretty good game," coach Bob Sheldon said. "It was the first time we've beaten them since any of our guys have been here." Earlier in the game, it didn't seem Tufts would have it so tough. The Jumbos came out firing, and built up a 28-16 lead with 11:08 remaining in the first half. A three by McGlynn with 3:38 left put Tufts up 44-35, but the visiting Vikings scored the final nine points of the half to close the gap to 46-44 at the break. McGlynn finished the half with 18 points. For most of the second half of play, the Jumbos maintained a single digit lead, until Paulino connected on a layup with 3:27 remaining to knot the score at 79. The Vikings managed two one point leads, the last at 84-83. Tufts held strong in a dogfight down the stretch, leading into overtime. Tufts stuck to its game plan throughout the contest, launching 27 threes in fast-paced play. The trio of McGlynn, Shapiro, and Barlow led the way for the Jumbos, with 26, 19, and 16 points, respectively. "We shot 53 percent for the game and 43 percent from threes," Sheldon said. "And that's what we've been predicating things from. We based everything around our one, two, three guys and they combined for 61 points." The three have fed well off of each other so far this season. When all three are shooting well, the team is able to score big, as evidenced by Sunday night's 100-point outburst. "If Brian's off a little bit, [McGlynn] picks it up, if [McGlynn] is off, then Phil picks it up." Sheldon said. "Its pretty tough to shut down three outside shooters." Junior Colin Wetherill chipped in Sunday with six points and eight rebounds, while classmate Kyle Van Natta added eight points and six boards. Freshman Craig Coupe had another strong game down low, coming off the bench to score 14 points and pull down eight rebounds. Senior co-captain Bobby MacMannis and junior Jim Wilson (two steals) also had big games defensively. "Bobby and Jim Wilson played great defense," Sheldon said. "They got some steals when we needed them." The Jumbos take to the court again tonight for a 7:30 p.m. match at Suffolk.
The men's basketball team, fresh off its huge overtime win against perennial Division III powerhouse Salem State on Sunday night, will attempt to improve to 3-1 at Suffolk tonight. The Rams come into the game at 1-2 and lost their last two games after opening the season with a 79-74 win over Roger Williams College. "I'm not worried about them," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We're going to go in and play hard. They do have a funky little gym, though. You get dressed on the seventh floor and then take an elevator down to the game." But the idiosyncrasies of the Rams' gym haven't seemed to affect the Jumbos' play at all, as Sheldon's team has a firm grip on the rivalry with wins in the last 11 meetings. In fact, the last time a Tufts team lost to Suffolk was on Feb. 4, 1989 - Sheldon's first year at the helm - when the Rams edged the host Jumbos 79-78. Last year, Tufts fell behind early ,11-2, but surged back to take a 42-32 halftime lead that the Jumbos would not relinquish en route to a 83-68 drubbing of the Rams in Cousens Gym. The story of the game for Suffolk, however, was not the defeat but then-junior Jason Luisi's cracking of the 1000-point plateau for his career. Luisi, who has been tabbed as a preseason All American by Division III News, will be back on the floor tonight to lead Suffolk. "Luisi - he's a scorer," Sheldon said. "He got a 1000 points in the fourth game of his junior year and he's on pace for about 18 or 1900 for his career. Last year [Suffolk's team] was the best team in school history, and they only graduated two seniors." This year's squad is led by captains Luisi, junior Tom Carey, senior Winston Daley, and senior Flynn Pagnam. Luisi, Carey, and Daley will be in the backcourt, while Pagnam is down low at one of the forward spots. In total, the Rams return eight players to the court this year. Nonetheless, Sheldon is confident in his team's ability to execute its game plan. "We just have to play our game, make our shots, and run the ball," he said. "And believe it or not, we may actually play some defense. It should be a good game." Tufts' scoring has been dominated by its backcourt thus far, and tonight should be no different. Junior guard Mike McGlynn, who erupted for 26 points on Sunday night against Salem - including 6-9 shooting from three point land - comes into the contest as the Jumbos' top scorer at 17.0 points per game. His two fellow sharpshooters, junior point guard Phil Barlow and junior shooting guard Brian Shapiro are next on the scoring list at 11.7 and 11.3 ppg, respectively. The three represent Tufts' best deep threats, as the three pointer has been a primary weapon in the squad's offensive arsenal, thus far. Against Salem State, the trio combined to shoot 10-21 on three pointers, and the Jumbos are currently shooting 33.8 percent overall (24-71) from behind the arc. Inside, juniors Kyle Van Natta and Colin Wetherill have held their own, along with freshman Craig Coupe. The game will tipoff at 7 p.m. at Suffolk University.
If nothing else, the 2001-2002 men's basketball team will be exciting. Predicting anything else is next to impossible. "We're going to be fun to watch," said coach Bob Sheldon, who heads into his 14th season as the Jumbos' head coach. He is the winningest coach in the program's history with a 202-120 record. Gone from last year's team are co-captains Bobby Mpuku and Dan Flaherty who provided Tufts with on-court leadership at the point guard position and in the middle. Replacing these two - each were integral members of the team that won the ECAC Championship in 1999-2000 - will prove difficult. At point guard, sophomore Phil Barlow will have full reign of the team this season. He was explosive last season, averaging 11 points and 3.4 assists per game on his way to NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors. Last season, however, Barlow split time at the point with Mpuku, and despite playing 160 fewer minutes, turned the ball over only six fewer times. With the ball in his hands for the majority of the season this year, he's going to have to curb the turnovers. "He's taken over the leadership of the team," Sheldon said. "He had a broken foot in the off-season, but he's been working a lot." Junior Brian Shapiro won the NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors the year before Barlow, and is the team's leading returning scorer, averaging 15 points per game. His range spans Tufts' entire half of the court, and he's not bashful to shoot. He attempted 157 three pointers last year - a team lead and 68 more than Barlow, who had the second most attempts - and connected on 33.1 percent. In fact, three-point shooting is going to be a trend of this year's squad. Last year, the Jumbos averaged 22 three point attempts a game, which will pale in comparison to this year's barrage. "There's going to be some three's shot in this gym," Sheldon said after practice. "We want to take 25-30 a game. Last year we had three guys out and two in. This year it's going to be four out and one in." In fact, an early version of the offense Sheldon has installed rarely, if ever, looks to feed the ball to the center. Instead, it focuses on penetrating and dishing. "Kind of like Duke," Sheldon said. Though Shapiro and Barlow have no problem taking three-pointers, they will have help this season in the likes of junior transfer guard Mike McGlynn. At Brandies two seasons ago, McGlynn, an Arlington native, was the Judges' leading scorer, and he brings his outside game to Tufts this year. "Brian, Phil and Mike are one of the best backcourts in New England," Sheldon said. Despite an athletic and sharp-shooting three-guard backcourt, Tufts is going to have matchup problems on the inside. Junior Kyle Van Natta, a natural swingman, will be forced to play the power forward position, while junior Colin Weatherall will start the season as an undersized center. Though Weatherall will start the year in the middle, the coaching staff is excited about the play of freshman Craig Cooper, who may eventually work his way into the starting lineup. Cooper, though, lacks the size and defensive presence that Flaherty brought to the team last year, and this could cause problems against some of the NESCAC's dominant centers. "That could be a problem," Sheldon said. "But we're going to cause matchup problems for other teams. They're going to have a big man covering Kyle, so he'll be able to shoot the three or drive on his man all day." Another technique the Jumbos will use to combat their lack of size is the full court press. Having four, or even five, guards and small forwards on the court at a time will give the Jumbos an athletic advantage over almost every opponent, and Sheldon plans to use it to place defensive pressure on opponents. "We'll probably press 40 minutes a game," Sheldon said. "We have a pretty deep team, as well." Aside from the game plan, there are a few fresh factors for the team this season. The floor of Cousens gym has been replaced with a new, parquet material, giving it a more professional look. Sheldon has also brought in two new assistant coaches, Hank "Bulldog" DeSantis and Chris Mullett. "Hank used to coach at Suffolk," Sheldon said. "He got tired of being on the losing end of the rivalry." Tufts opens its season with a trip to Pennsylvania to play Swarthmore on Friday the 16th and Haverford the next day. The home opener is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as the Jumbos play host to Salem State. The team's success this year will rest squarely on the accuracy of the three-point shooting. Without many other options, if the Jumbos are shooting poorly one night, they are likely going to lose, which could make this an inconsistent season for Sheldon's squad. But, as he promised, with an athletic team pressing the entire game and never hesitant to take a shot, it will be an exciting year.
The Jumbos started off the second half of their season with two wins in the Infospace.com Holiday Classic, held in Los Angeles on Jan. 5-6. The trip gave the team an opportunity to compete against opponents they have never seen before, and also allowed Tufts to get back into its rhythm after more than four weeks away from the court. In the first game of the tournament, Tufts trounced Pomona-Pitzer 78-62. The Jumbos were sparked by 71.4 percent shooting in the first half, and were up by 17 points at the break. Senior captain Dan Flaherty, who currently ranks third in the NESCAC at 19.1 points per game, led the way on offense, scoring 17 points despite spending just 18 minutes on the floor. Junior guard Bobby MacMannis returned to the floor for the first time this season, having missed the first seven games with a wrist injury. He grabbed two rebounds in two minutes of play. The team went on to face host Occidental in the second game, managing to fend off the Tigers for a three point victory. Flaherty and senior Fred Pedroletti each contributed 19 points to the cause, while point guard Bobby Mpuku added nine points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. "We played great out in California," sophomore Brian Shapiro said. "It's tough for any team to go on the road and win, and to go across the country and beat two pretty good teams was definitely a confidence booster for us." The team returned to the east coast for a Jan. 10 match-up with Curry. The Jumbos started off slow, shooting just 26.5 percent in the first half, but were still able to carry a 27-24 lead into the locker room at half time. The team came out stronger in the second stanza, shooting a blistering 59.3 percent from the field on the way to a 73-65 win. Flaherty once again led the team on the scoring end, putting up 24, and pulling down 16 boards for his second double-double of the season. Tufts followed the Curry win with an 86-62 drubbing of UMass-Boston the following night at home in Cousens Gym. Coach Bob Sheldon used the game against a weaker opponent as an opportunity to give some of his younger players floor time, sending a total of 16 Jumbos out on the court. Fifteen of those players scored at least one point, although only Shapiro reached double figures. Turnovers were one of the biggest factors of the game, as the Jumbos forced 30 while giving up the ball just 15 times. The game was the first at home since the team's Dec. 5 overtime win against Babson, and the Jumbos will not play on their home floor again until Jan. 26. The four wins over break helped to re-establish the momentum that the team had put together during their 4-1 December, and lifted Tufts' overall record to 11-2. The Jumbos pushed their winning streak to seven with a 76-71 win over Brandeis on Tuesday, and crushed Wheaton last night 83-67.
For the men's basketball team, the road to the NESCAC Tournament goes through...the road. The Jumbos will kick off a regular season-ending four-game road trip this weekend, with games at Williams and Middlebury. With wins in both, Tufts can clinch a berth in the NESCAC Tournament, which will feature the top seven teams in the division battling it out for a berth in the NCAA Div. III Tournament. However with a pair of losses, the Jumbos, who currently sit in a third place tie in the NESCAC at 15-5, and 3-2 in the NESCAC, could find themselves playing for their postseason lives a week from now. Tonight's game, at least on the surface, is the more intriguing of the two that will be played this weekend. The team will make the cross-state trek to Williamstown to face an Ephs team that no current Jumbo has beaten. "We're trying not to think negatively," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We have very good chances to win both games this weekend." "I really think we have a good chance to beat Williams," senior forward Fred Pedroletti said. "We have better players, period, point blank."For those players to prevail, though, Tufts will have to erase the bitter memory of a blowout loss at the hands of an NCAA Tournament bound Williams team last season. In that game, the Ephmen never looked back after falling behind 3-2, in the early moments, and blew the Jumbos out, by a score of 74-58.To many Jumbos, though, that game is a distant memory. "We are excited to play them," freshman guard Phil Barlow said. "They are a tough team, but by no means are we going in there intimidated." Although Williams is still not to be taken lightly - in their last game they demolished a Springfield team that eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament last year, 80-54 - still they are not the powerhouse of recent years. The Ephs are 3-3 in the NESCAC and 14-6 overall leaving them hanging onto the seventh and final seed in the NESCAC tournament. A Tufts win would do more than just catapult them into the driver's seat for a possible home game in the Tournament, but would help to push Williams over the edge of the cliff they're currently hanging from. Such a scenario would be sweet given the teams' recent history, but Sheldon knows that nothing can be taken for granted. "There is a little bit of a drop-off from where they were last year," he said. "But they are still very strong. They have a new coach and they needed some time to learn his system. Now they're starting to peak." While Williams may be starting to climb out of a mini-funk, Middlebury College, Saturday's opponent, is watching its season slip away. The Panthers have struggled mightily of late, having lost five straight going into tonight's game against Bates. The tailspin has landed Middlebury at the bottom of the NESCAC standings, at 9-11 overall and 1-5 in division play. The Jumbos will look to take advantage of the Panthers' struggles. "Good teams win games versus teams that are struggling," Pedroletti. "Great teams really hand them a whooping. We are looking to do the latter in order to send a message going into the conference tournament." The efforts to do so may be hindered by one factor: Energy. The Jumbos are being forced to take a three hour bus ride today, play there at 7 p.m. on Friday, sit on a bus again for about three hours on Saturday, and then get right back on the court at 2 p.m. on Saturday against Middlebury. That's no easy task for any team at any level. "Its definitely a disadvantage having to travel so much and playing two road games," Barlow said. "We just have to try and stay focused and really be mentally tough this weekend." Much of the fate of the Middlebury game, though, will be out of Tufts hands. The Panthers' offense could best be described by stealing a phrase from former NFL resident genius/lunatic Buddy Ryan: "Chuck and duck". There is little more to the Middlebury than a constant flurry of three-pointers; whether or not those treys are falling may be the determining factor in the game. "This one could be a wacky game," Sheldon said. "They fire a lot of threes and being at home, that could help them shoot better. They're an inconsistent team; they live and die by the three." Sheldon and company will hope that they continue to die by the three, as they have done of late. While a tough weekend lies ahead, there is plenty of good news for the Jumbos. The team finally seems to be getting healthy. Sophomore guard Brian Shapiro is nearly 100 percent, and while Barlow has not practiced in the last two days, Sheldon expects him to suit up tonight. That should help the Jumbos in their quest to make this crucial weekend successful. "We'd rather be at home, but we're not afraid," Sheldon said. "We're focusing on sweeping this weekend." If the team can make a sweep happen, the road to the NESCAC Tournament will be completed by Saturday night.
While not nearly as devastating as the Titanic's 1912 voyage, the men's basketball team's season alternately awed us, anguished us, and touched us. The Jumbos' ship finally sunk in Saturday's shocking 85-84 loss to the Conn College Camels, bringing sudden end to Tufts' season. While the Titanic's builders could not pick up the pieces from their disaster and regroup, the Jumbos - minus five seniors - will be back next year to try again. Tufts, down by as many as 14 in the second half, managed to muster one last run to save the season and, with 2:49 remaining, sophomore shooting guard Brian Shapiro (11-18 for 28 points) hit yet another basket to put his team on top 82-80. After struggling for much of the second half of the season, Shapiro found his shot in his team's final two games, and nearly willed the Jumbos to victory. "He hit a cold rut for a long part of the season," senior power forward Fred Pedroletti said. "But of course you can never count him out. He went off in one of the biggest games of the season. He was awesome and he proved he was the real deal." With 2:07 left in the game, senior Bobby Mpuku (5-9 for 14 points and 6 assists) knocked down one of two free throws, extending the lead to 83-80. Then the Camels' junior guard, Isiah Curtis, responded at the 1:25 mark, popping a jumper to bring Conn. College within in one, at 83-82. The two teams exchanged free throws, setting up Rich Futia's miracle shot. If this had been Division I basketball, Futia's shot would have been replayed time and time again. Perhaps it would have received a name such as "the shot" which Michael Jordan hit as a North Carolina Tar Heel to bring the championship to Chapel Hill. Instead, only the players and the 800 fans who attended the game will remember the tip that killed the Jumbos. With 3.3 seconds left, Curtis leapt for the heavens and tipped in Curtis' wild three-point attempt. "They called a timeout and then this random dude shot a three, and we were like 'awesome he's not gonna make it,'" Pedroletti said. "He jacked up a three and missed it and the ball bounced and they tipped it. [Futia] was way up there for the rebound. He was head and shoulders above everyone on the court." "He jumped over the back of two of our players," sophomore Lee Neugebauer said. "The referees were afraid to call anything in the tight situation." After Futia's shot, the Jumbos had one last chance to save their season, calling a timeout to set up a play for Shapiro, who had been carrying the team all weekend. The plan was for Shapiro to inbound the ball to Mpuku and then run off a double screen for the game winner. Instead the Camels swarming defense nearly forced a five second violation, and while Tufts succeeded in getting the ball inbounds, Conn. College intercepted the pass, ending the Jumbos' season. The Jumbos' loss, can be attributed to three key factors: porous defense, poor free throw shooting, and the absence of freshman sensation Phil Barlow, the team's third leading scorer (11.0 ppg). Tufts allowed Conn. College to shoot 52.3 percent for the game, while the Jumbos shot a dismal 53.8 percent from the charity stripe in the second half, and only 64 percent for the game. "Our main objective throughout [the past] week was to get back to our defensive wizardry," Pedroletti said. "[Their shooting] was a remarkable sight. If I were a fan and not on the other team I would have liked to have watched that. They were shooting the lights out and playing tough D." There was a clear discrepancy in terms of free throw shooting from the first half (75 percent) to the second (53.8 percent) for the Jumbos, but the team felt that nerves were not a factor in the huge drop-off. "I don't think nervousness was the factor for the missed free throws," Neugebauer said. "I think it was just fatigue." "Towards the latter part of the season free throws have been a problem," Pedroletti said. "We tried to improve that because we knew it was going to come up and bite us. Unfortunately, it had to come down to that. Free throws definitely do make a difference in the game. They just didn't roll our way." Barlow had injured his shoulder during last Tuesday's practice and had trouble moving his arm past his head. To make matters worse, late for an exam on Thursday, the speedy young guard, in a mad dash for class, slammed the door on a finger of his shooting hand. "He wasn't cleared to play, so there was no chance of him pulling a Willis Reed," Pedroletti said. Perhaps the Conn. College fiasco could have been avoided, had the Jumbos been able to pull out a victory against the Wesleyan Cardinals on Friday night. Instead, Tufts stumbled from the get-go, falling behind 49-38 at the half on the way to a 94-91 loss. "It was difficult because it was a situation where we had to get a win," Pedroletti said. "We knew that this was the easier of the two [games]. We were way off as a team going into the game. It was hard to get out of the rut. We kind of did a little too late. It was a game we definitely thought we could have won." Despite solid contributions from Shapiro (8-17 for 24 points), Flaherty (5-13 for 23 points), and sophomore Kyle Van Natta (4-5 for 13 points), the team could not establish itself until the second half, when it outscored the Cardinals by 53-45 margin. "It was definitely morbid," Pedroletti said. "It was more of a shock because the game was finished. It we lost in a blowout we would have already been in that mood. The fact that we had it and we were literally a foot away - it was really a matter of shock. We should have won and we didn't. It was a good feeling knowing we finished our careers going 110 percent."
The Tufts men's basketball team hit some big free throws last month, and though they did not add any conference victories to the team's record, they gave new meaning to the term "charity stripe." On Jan. 15, the Jumbos held a free-throw shootout to benefit Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that provides reconstructive surgery and related health care to indigent children and young adults in developing countries and the United States. Players collected pledges and earned money for the cause based on the number of free throws that they hit. In all, the team raised $3,027 for Op Smile. The event was organized by assistant coach Seth Eilberg, who became involved with the charity as a boy in Norfolk, Virginia. "It's a good cause," Eilberg said. "It helps the team appreciate things outside of basketball. It teaches them to take a step back and look at what they have that others might not.." Op Smile itself was formed in 1982 by a husband and wife team, Dr. Bill and Kathy Macgee of Norfolk. On a trip to the Philippines to perform reconstructive facial surgery on poor children in that country, the pair became saddened by the fact that they had to turn so many children away. The charity helps children from the United States and the rest of the world. On Jan. 15, the team stepped up to the challenge. The Jumbos are eighth in the NESCAC in free throw percentage, shooting 66.8 percent from the line on the season. But during the competition, three players hit over 90 of their 100 free throws. "The guys shot a little better than normal," Eilberg said. "I guess they had the charity vibe in their stroke that afternoon." The team was treated to pizza by DiFabio's Restaurant in Medford and Best Buy donated prizes for the top money earner, best shooter, and the most pledges. Freshman David Malouf raised the most money, with $500 to his credit, earning a TV and VCR system. Junior Kevin Reade received a new stereo for collecting the most pledges, and junior Bobby MacMannis won the tight free throw competition, earning a Discman. Freshmen Shaun Young and Eric Mack also hit over 90 of their free throws. Eilberg hopes to see the event return in subsequent years. "We'd like to have it again. Anyone who wants to support the effort is welcome."
The men's basketball team began the NESCAC schedule on a high, with a 78-65 drubbing of the Bates Bobcats on Saturday afternoon. The victory improved the Jumbos' record to 12-2 on the season, and set the tone for what should be a tight battle for the NESCAC Championship and automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. "I think it was definitely a great way to start off league play," sophomore Brian Shapiro said. "With Williams, Connecticut College, and Amherst losing, it shows that the [NESCAC] is up in the air and each victory is that much more important. It's going to be a dogfight all year in the NESCAC, and to get a quality win on the road was very important for us." For the season, the trio of Shapiro and seniors Dan Flaherty and Fred Pedroletti have been doing the brunt of the scoring for Tufts. However, against Bates, the Jumbos had seven players score seven or more points. "The trio has been our top scorers, but we have other people score also," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We are a deep team, especially on offense, and any one of several players could go for 20 on any given night. That's what makes us so tough to beat." Tufts inside-out game led to many scoring opportunities down low for Flaherty, (8-16, 20 points) and Pedroletti (4-8, 10 points). "Bates wasn't that big of a team, and [Flaherty] was able to set up shop in the paint really easily," Shapiro said. "Once we got the ball into him they had a really difficult time of stopping him. He also uses his size really well and gets tons of rebounds." Guards Shapiro (5-14, 11 points), senior Bobby Mpuku, who hit three of five three-point attempts on his way to ten points, and freshman Phil Barlow (4-8, 10 points) took advantage of many good looks from the outside, resulting from the intimidating presence of Flaherty and Pedroletti in the paint. Junior Bobby MacMannis continued with his hot shooting, which has helped spark the Jumbos since his return from a wrist injury that had sidelined him earlier in the season. MacMannis shot 2-3 for eight points in only 15 minutes of action. Despite shooting only 41 percent in the first half, the Jumbos jumped off to 34-28 lead at halftime, mostly because of their stifling defense, which limited the Bobcats to 28 percent shooting in the first half and only 34 percent for the game. "The key was getting back on defense and stopping their penetration to the basket," sophomore Lee Neugebauer said. "They thrived off their penetration and dish to the big man or three-point shooter. Coach Sheldon made a point of making sure we stayed in front of our men and didn't gamble." Emotion from the locker room carried the Jumbos through a dismal shooting first half. "In the two games before the Bates one, we played very flat with no energy or emotion" Neugebauer said. "But in the locker room before the Bates game, the team made a point of making sure we came out with life, showing emotion. I think that is what kept us in the game the whole time." Bates came within two points (39-37) of the Jumbos with 15:31 left in the second half, after freshman Ramon Garcia hit a lay-up to cap off a 9-2 Bobcats' burst. But Tufts responded with a 9-1 run of its own, putting the game out of reach. "Bates did get to 39-37, but we were always in control," Sheldon said. "We were never behind, and down the stretch we just were better than they were." "I think the major thing was withstanding their spurts," Shapiro said. "They cut the lead to two or three a couple of times and their fans really started getting into it. But we were able to turn it up a notch and build the lead back up." The team continues its season on Wednesday in Dartmouth, Mass., squaring off against UMass-Dartmouth, currently the top-ranked Division III school in New England. The Jumbos resume NESCAC play Friday at home against Trinity. Tufts is looking to maintain the intensity that carried it to victory against the Bobcats. "This win was huge," Sheldon said. "The NESCAC is so tough this year that anything can happen. Any away win in the league is huge, and to start with a win against a good team, away, can only be good." "In our next game, we are looking to gain respect throughout New England," Neugebauer said. "Umass-Dartmouth is number one in New England right now and if we beat them, I think there is no doubt that we should be number one."
With a narrow 76-71 victory over Brandeis on Tuesday night, and a 83-67 thumping of Wheaton last night, the Jumbos improved to 11-2 on the season and extended their season-high winning streak to seven games. Sophomore guard Brian Shapiro scored a game-high 24 points last night, and freshman Phil Barlow added 16 off the bench as the Jumbos cruised past the 7-6 Lyons. Tufts' defense propelled the victory as Wheaton committed 25 turnovers and only shot 40 percent from the field. On Tuesday night, Tufts' defense was somewhat lackadaisical, allowing Brandeis to shoot 56.5 percent from the field in the first half before clamping down later in the game, when the Jumbos' high-octane offense heated up and powered the team to victory. "We played okay defensively," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We came out and shot pretty well. We shot 50 percent, and that is why we won." Usually, the Jumbos count on the big three of Shapiro and seniors Dan Flaherty and Fred Pedroletti to do most of the scoring. While Flaherty managed to drop in 15 points, Brandeis held Pedroletti (six points) and Shapiro (seven points) well under their season averages of 10.7 and 15.9, respectively. In search of points, the Jumbos turned to Barlow, who shot 5-6 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the three point line on his way to 16 points overall, nearly seven points above his season average. Flaherty, Pedroletti, Shapiro, and Barlow were four of the ten Jumbos who scored four or more points during the game. "We just have a deep team," Shapiro said. "Some games people score more than others and last night was a great example of that. [Barlow] had 16 points and [sophomore Kyle Van Natta] also played great. That's what is so good about our team. Everyone can play and we know that everyone is capable of having a great game every game." The Jumbos dominated the Judges defensively in the second half, holding the team to a pitiful 35.3 shooting percentage. With Brandeis down six, at 54-48, with 14:21 left to play, the Jumbos ran off eight straight points to bring the advantage to 14. Then the Judges responded with a barrage of three pointers, cutting the lead to three with nine seconds left. "We got up 14 and we didn't really put the nail in the coffin," Flaherty said. "They hit a bunch of threes. We took it for granted that the game was over. We really have to close out games against the weaker teams. We will get beat by tougher teams if we have those lapses." "We got the lead up to 14 with five or six [minutes left] then they started making some crazy threes," Sheldon said. "I was a little disappointed that we didn't put them away." One of Tufts greatest team strengths has been its ability to dominate the boards. However, on this night, Brandeis dominated the glass, outrebounding the Jumbos by a 40 to 29 margin, enabling the Judges to stay with the more talented Tufts team for most of the evening. Much of this spread can be attributed to the fact that Brandeis is a much bigger team than Tufts, as no starter, except point guard Antonio Williams, was under 6' 4". "They were the tallest team we've played so far," Shapiro said. "Our guards were forced to defend kids that were three to four inches taller." "They clearly outrebounded us last night," Flaherty said. "That is something that we should be aware of. It was a little bit of a reality check that rebounding is not going to come to us. Rebounding is a pretty much hustle and we didn't hustle as much as we should have." Despite being closer than expected, the Jumbos were pleased to come out with a victory, and were glad to see that junior guard Bobby MacMannis is working his way back into the rotation, after missing most of the season recovering from a injury to his shooting wrist. MacMannis (2-3 for five points) had his highest scoring output in the four games he has played since his return, and is currently shooting a red-hot 66.7 percent from the field on the season. "He is slowly getting back into playing shape," Sheldon said. "He is doing more than just scoring. He is playing great defense." While Sheldon may have been unhappy with the overall effort, there is no denying that a win is a win. "I thought we were going to win by 15," Sheldon said. "Maybe we looked ahead a little bit because league play [NESCAC] starts on Saturday against Bates." "We probably didn't win by as much as we should have," Flaherty said. "We looked a little tired and maybe weren't mentally into it. We did what we had to." After beating Wheaton easily last night, the Jumbos will begin the most important part of the season on Saturday afternoon, when the team heads to Maine to battle Bates in what marks the commencement of NESCAC play.
The men's basketball now knows what it's like to go in for a routine physical and have the doctor order emergency triple bypass surgery. The Jumbos went into the weekend expecting favorable results from a checkup against two NESCAC foes, the Williams Ephs and Middlebury Panthers. But after consecutive losses to the Ephs (86-64) on Friday and to the Panthers (76-71) on Saturday, Tufts (15-7, 3-4 in NESCAC) finds itself on life support with only one week remaining in the regular season. While Tufts usually prides itself on effort, senior co-captain Dan Flaherty questioned the team's heart following the losses. "We need to be more intense in the game," Flaherty said. "We are sometimes lackadaisical as a team, and we think we can win on talent alone." While the Jumbos shot better than the Panthers - they connected on 47.4 percent of their field goal attempts compared to Middlebury's 41.5 percent - Tufts once again failed to excel at the fundamentals. The Panthers out-rebounded the Jumbos 36-30 and also dominated them at the charity stripe, where Tufts continued to struggle, shooting only 50 percent from the line compared to Middlebury's 71.4 percent. "There might have been two or three minutes where we had the lead," Flaherty said. "They made a lot of their free throws. They just got them really well and we didn't. That was a big discrepancy." "In terms of free throws, we were fouling back and forth, and we weren't hitting our free throws but they were hitting theirs," junior guard Bobby MacMannis said. "That was one of the main reasons we lost. We have kind of hit a [free throw] funk now." While his teammates struggled, Flaherty had a huge game, going 12-13 from the field, 5-7 from the line, and finishing with a season-high 30 points. Sophomore shooting guard Brian Shapiro was the only other Jumbo in double figures, as he chipped in 12 points on 5-13 shooting. Senior co-captain Bobby Mpuku and freshman Phil Barlow, who only played 20 minutes, both contributed eight points. Tufts was dealt a tremendous blow when Barlow fouled out with approximately eight minutes left in the second half. With the Barlow-bomb on the bench, the Jumbos were unable to find another spark to ignite them down the stretch. "That hurt us," Flaherty said of Barlow's premature departure. "He is a good player, especially on defense, he is so quick. There were a couple of bogus [foul] calls." "When he fouled out, we lost the edge," MacMannis said. "We actually played well. It seemed like as soon as the game was over we were like 'how did we lose that game?'" The loss to the Panthers was especially devastating for the Jumbos, who had hoped to dig themselves from an abyss after a startling setback against Williams on Friday. Going into the game Tufts had a 3-2 NESCAC record while the Ephs were 3-3. But following this weekend's action, the two teams have undergone a drastic reversal in fortunes. The Ephs jumped out in front early, sprinting to a 23-11 lead eight minutes into the game. Following that spurt, the Jumbos found themselves struggling to make the contest competitive. Midway through the first half, Tufts went on a run of its own, cut the Ephs lead to five, and headed into the locker room down by only seven. After shooting a poor 38.7 percent through the first 20 minutes, the Jumbos looked to improve that statistic in the second half. Instead, the second half was more of the same for Tufts as the squad shot only 33.3 percent in the second frame. Rebounding was also a serious problem for the Jumbos as the Ephmen out-rebounded them by a 50 to 37 margin. "They were a lot more physical then we thought they were gonna be," MacMannis said. "We kind of backed off as soon as we saw how physical they were." "They contest every shot," Flaherty said. "I don't think we got any open looks. They got in our face and pushed us back. They pushed us back at the three-point line. It was kind of a disappointing loss." While the team struggled as a whole, Flaherty (7-10 for 19 points and six rebounds) and freshman point guard Phil Barlow (6-8 for 16 points) managed to thrive. "I played an alright game," Flaherty said. "They might not have stopped me per se, but they made it difficult. I had to really press to get open for shots. It wasn't easy for the guards to get into the posts. There were a couple turnovers trying to get [the ball] into me, or I got stripped." After the two NESCAC losses, the Jumbos are now in a three-way tie with Bowdoin and Conn. College for the sixth spot in the playoff battle, making next weekend's showdowns at Wesleyan and Conn. College must-win games. "We want to come out and hopefully get two victories," Flaherty said. "We just want to get into that [NESCAC] tournament. We feel like as long as we are there, we are a dangerous team." "There is a real sense of urgency," MacMannis said. "We started the season off so well. Now, our backs are against the wall. We have to go in and probably win both games this weekend."
When the men's basketball team was down by five last week to the Colby White Mules with 2:30 left in overtime of the ECAC championship game, only someone who had never seen this year's version of the Jumbos before would have counted them out. The Jumbos, having survived many similar moments on the season, kept their composure and were soon crowned ECAC champions, the team's first title in 18 years.