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Garnet fall in first ever trip to the Elite Eight

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For the second consecutive season, Garnet men’s basketball qualified for the NCAA tournament and made the most of it this year with a deep run to the Elite Eight, the national quarterfinals. After convincing road wins over New England College and Wesleyan University while on the road at Wesleyan, the Garnet triumphantly returned to Tarble Pavilion to, somewhat surprisingly, host the third and fourth rounds of the tournament. This marked the first time the Garnet had ever made a Sweet 16 (third round) appearance, after being eliminated by Christopher Newport during the second round of last year’s tournament, their first ever appearance under head coach Landry Kosmalski. Kosmalski, a member of the Davidson College Class of 2000, was one of the best-big-men in program history and served as an assistant coach while current NBA star Stephen Curry played at Davidson. Heading into the Sweet 16 game, Coach Kosmalski, in his sixth year with the program, had already bettered his program record win total from last season, and with an offense firing on all cylinders, the Garnet looked poised to continue padding that number.

In the first Sweet 16 game on March 9, Springfield College took down Hamilton College in a 92-90 overtime thriller. The game to follow, between the Garnet and Plattsburgh State, would be nowhere near as close, as the Garnet routed the Cardinals 93-63 in front of a packed house, in spite of it being the last day of classes before spring break. Zack Yonda 18, the fantastic senior guard and career 1,000-point scorer, showed that he was not yet ready to say goodbye to Tarble Pavilion as he led the Garnet with 19 points on 5-7 shooting, including a trio of three-pointers. Nate Shafer 20, the sophomore big, was unstoppable in the paint, going an incredible nine for 10 from the floor and recording a near double-double with eight rebounds. Zac O’Dell ’20 was similarly dominant down low, scoring 15 while grabbing 10 boards. Cam Wiley 19, who eclipsed 1,000 career points during this postseason campaign, added 14 while dishing out five assists.

The Garnet had a significant advantage in size, and that showed in their domination of the paint, out-rebounding the Cardinals 40-32 and outscoring them 54-20 in the paint. The Garnet were able to effectively shut down Cardinals’ star Jonathan Patron, holding him to 12 points on 5-14 shooting, a far cry from the 24 points per game he averaged all season. The crowd seemingly got to him as well, as Patron was called for a blocking foul midway through the second half before storming off the court and slapping the scorer’s table, for which he was assessed a technical.

Indeed, the game was never close as the Garnet held a 22-5 lead less than halfway through the first half and a 41-27 lead by halftime. At various points in the second half, they led by as much as 32. With their 30-point margin of victory, the Garnet maintained their streak of outscoring their opponents by at least 22 points throughout the tournament.

But there was little time for celebration as their win set up a national quarterfinals appointment with Springfield College the next evening, a school of 3,600 from Springfield, Mass. On paper, the Springfield team did not seem to present as much of a threat as some of their previous appointments. Springfield was unranked and only 21-8 heading into the game, while the Garnet had handily defeated no. 15 Wesleyan and no. 16 Plattsburgh State.

However, it was the sleeper team in that ultimately knocked the Garnet out of the tournament, securing the Pride their first ever appearance in the tournament’s Final Four.

It was clear from the beginning that this game would be a more difficult one than their previous tournament games, as the Garnet had shown an ability to score at will from all levels. Points came at a premium early in the first half as Springfield led 8-7 a third of the way through the opening frame. The Garnet were eventually able to find a rhythm as sharpshooter Conor Harkins ’21 scored seven straight near the midway point of the half, and the teams traded baskets until Yonda connected on a triple and an and-one layup to push the Garnet’s lead to nine. The Garnet looked to go into the break up nine, before a putback buzzer-beating layup by Heath Post gave the Pride some momentum back as they headed to the locker room.

The Pride opened up the half with a 14-2 run through the first eight minutes to retake the lead. The Garnet were able to retake the lead with just under eight minutes remaining as Ryan Ingram ’21 ran the floor to hit a three in transition. However, the Pride began to find their range from three-point territory as Cam Earle connected on three over a five-minute period while Jake Ross and Andy McNulty each hit one to push the Pride’s lead back up to seven with just over a minute left to play. The Garnet were forced to start intentionally fouling, but they were only able to connect on one of their shots the rest of the way while Springfield hit seven of eight free throws to secure the win and the berth in the national semifinals.

While scoring in the paint had come so easily to them earlier in the tournament, they struggled in the paint against the likes of Jake Ross, last year’s National Rookie of the Year, and Heath Post, who both grabbed double-digit rebounds. Ross also scored 23 playing without a single break, while Post added 18. On the Garnet’s side, O’Dell was held to 4-10 shooting while Shafer only managed to connect on one of his seven field goal attempts. For only the second time all season, the Garnet were out-rebounded 39-32. In the second half they were only able to connect on 31 percent of their field goal attempts while Springfield heated up and ultimately maintained their reputation as a giant-killer, having previously knocked Cabrini College and Albright College out of the tournament. 

The Garnet were treated to a standing ovation by the home crowd as they concluded the best season in program history, finishing 25-6 and advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time ever. The team sadly bids farewell to superb senior captains Yonda, Robbie Walsh ’18, and Jim Lammers ’18.

Swarthmore men’s basketball advances to the Sweet 16

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The Swarthmore men’s basketball team has been on the rise for years now. In fact, in the 2015-2016 season, the team had its first winning season since the 1996-1997 season. Much of the recent success enjoyed by Swarthmore men’s team has been due to its coach, Landry Kosmalski. In only five years at Swarthmore, Kosmalski has turned around a program that was consistently winning fewer than 10 games for years. Kosmalski brings vital basketball experience from his playing days as a star at Davidson College from 1996 to 2000. Kosmalski returned to Davidson after graduating as an assistant coach for the basketball team and briefly overlapped in his time there with current NBA star Stephen Curry. Kosmalski has brought a winning culture to Swarthmore and is a major reason why the team has advanced this far in the NCAA tournament.

The 2017-2018 squad has been the third team to win at least 20 games in the last three years, something Swarthmore’s team was not able to do for decades prior. Last year the team won the Centennial Conference Championship for the first time in its history, beating Dickinson at Tarble Pavilion. However, no Swarthmore team prior to the 2017-2018 team had ever made it the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division III tournament. Swarthmore’s team travelled up to Wesleyan University’s campus in Middletown, Conn., this past weekend, defeating New England College and the regional hosts Wesleyan to move onto the Sweet 16 of the tournament. The NCAA tournament rewards the best teams from different athletic conferences across the country with the luxury of “hosting” the first two rounds of the tournament. Wesleyan was one of these teams. The early rounds of the bracket are separated by region; this is why Swarthmore travelled to Connecticut as opposed to California or any other campus requiring a flight from Philadelphia. The Final Four semifinals and finals of the tournament are not hosted by a team, but rather a neutral site. This year, that site is Salem, Va.

Last Friday evening, the team suited up against New England College, showcasing its mental strength after sustaining a loss to Johns Hopkins in the Centennial Conference Championship just a week prior. Behind a massive first half, which included a 31-3 run in favor of Swarthmore, the Garnet defeated the 21-7 Pilgrims, 90-63. The team was led in scoring by standout guard Cam Wiley, who scored 23 points in 27 minutes of action. Wiley was efficient from the field, shooting 9-16. Zack Yonda ‘18 rose to the occasion, and shot 70 percent from the field to put up another 20 points for the team. Guard Conor Harkins ‘21 also came to play with 6 three-pointers on 12 attempts, which totaled for all of his 18 points. Harkins has consistently displayed his dangerous ability from three-point range this season, boasting the second highest three-point percentage in the Centennial Conference at 45.3 percent.

The team had little time to celebrate their victory, with the next matchup occurring the following Saturday evening against Wesleyan, playing in Wesleyan’s gym in front of a rowdy home crowd. The quality of the opponent themselves did not make the task any easier:Wesleyan was ranked 15th in the country prior to the NCAA tournament, and finished runner-ups in the competitive NESCAC league, one that includes top Division III programs like Middlebury and Tufts. Wiley once again came to play, and he put up his best statistical game of the year with 27 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Zac O’Dell ‘20 added 18 points, and Yonda added 13 of his own. Nate Schafer ‘20 had a great defensive game with five blocked shots and eight rebounds, and went six-for-six at the free throw line. Swarthmore’s team as a whole was fantastic on the boards, out-rebounding Wesleyan 44-29. Perhaps more impressive was the Garnet’s free-throw accuracy, which was an impressive 95.5 percent. This was a vast improvement from the Conference Championship game against Hopkins, where the team shot 53.8 percent, and arguably lost the game at the free throw line. The team hopes to continue its good run of form from the free-throw line on Friday during Round of 16.

Swarthmore got a pleasant surprise on Sunday when they learned that they would be hosting the Round of 16 and quarter-finals at Tarble Pavilion. This is the first time Swarthmore has ever made this round of the tournament, let alone hosted it. Many Swarthmore fans believed the team had played their final game at Tarble this year after the demoralizing loss against Hopkins, but the team surprisingly earned itself a hosting position for the next two rounds of the tournament. Swarthmore’s opponent for the Round of 16 is No. 16 Plattsburgh State, who hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament on their campus in Plattsburgh, N.Y. The other game played at Tarble Pavilion will be No. 14 Hamilton College taking on Springfield College, both from New York. If Swarthmore defeats Plattsburgh on Friday, they will play the winner of Hamilton and Springfield the following night. Only two rounds stand in between Swarthmore and the Final 4 in Salem, Va. Notable teams remaining in the tournament include Centennial Conference rival Franklin and Marshall, No. 1 Whitman, No. 6 Emory, and No. 9 Augustana, among several other top 25 teams.

Swarthmore is focused on defeating Plattsburgh State this upcoming week, but they will also have their eyes on the other games taking place. The only team that both Swarthmore and Plattsburgh have played this year is Middlebury College, a NESCAC powerhouse school. Swarthmore defeated Middlebury in January 91-75 when Middlebury was ranked no. 2 in the country. Plattsburgh lost to Middlebury about a month prior, 92-68. This is hardly a credible metric given that both games occurred months ago, but it raises a compelling point. The NCAA tournament gives teams the opportunity to play out-of-conference games that would never occur otherwise. Swarthmore aims to fill their non-conference schedule with challenging opponents like Middlebury. Plattsburgh and Swarthmore would likely never play one another under normal circumstances. It will be interesting to see how these teams handle the game, given that they have no prior experience with each other.

That being said, glancing at the statistics some Plattsburgh players boast, it is clear who Swarthmore’s defense should try to neutralize. Jonathan Patron is a 6 foot-2-inch, 245-pound power forward who averages 24.3 points per game, which is more than any player on Swarthmore’s roster. Robbie Walsh ‘18 and Schafer will have their hands full in the paint with Patron, but both players have performed very well in the NCAA and Centennial Tournaments, so this challenge won’t be anything new. Eli Bryant ‘18 also appears to be lethal from three-point range, averaging 16 points a game. Overall, Plattsburgh averages 88.2 points per game and 74.3 points against per game. For comparison, Swarthmore averages 78.8 points per game and 67.3 points against per game. It’s going to be a great game, and one that Swarthmore will need support from all of its faithful fans to win.

With the team in unfamiliar territory this deep in the tournament, every friendly face in the stands will count. The student-athletes on the basketball team have been working since November toward this game, balancing their challenging classes and grueling practices all year. The team even sacrificed two weeks of their winter break to practice and play games in January. The tournament has provided a wonderful opportunity for the men’s team to show what Swarthmore basketball is all about. While spring break starts this Friday, any students sticking around should make their way to Tarble Pavilion to support the Garnet. I encourage all who can to come support the team at 7:30 pm this Friday, and help the team out in any way possible.

Athlete of the week: Zac O’Dell ʼ20

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Zac O’Dell ʼ20, the 6-foot-7 forward from Schenectady N.Y., has been a key contributor to the Garnet men’s basketball team in their historic season. O’Dell has had standout games against Middlebury — one of the best teams in Division III — and more recently against Haverford, where he scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Garnet knocked off Franklin and Marshall in a well-attended scrappy game this past Saturday to clinch home court advantage for the Centennial Conference playoffs. Swarthmore will host Ursinus in the conference semifinals this Friday at Tarble Pavilion. If Swarthmore wins, the team will take on the winner of Johns Hopkins and Franklin and Marshall in the final on Saturday. We hope to see everyone at the game!

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what are your plans following graduation at Swarthmore?

Zac O’Dell: I am in the process of becoming a biochemistry Major and a psychology minor. As for plans after Swat, I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I would like to go to graduate school, I think.

PP: What got you into basketball as a kid? How did you find out about Swarthmore in the recruiting process?

ZO: Both my parents played basketball in college, so I’ve really enjoyed both playing and watching the sport for as long as I can remember. Before being recruited, I had actually never heard of Swarthmore, but after I went to a basketball camp at Columbia during my junior summer, Coach Landry reached out to me, and I fell in love with the school.

PP: What have been some of the highlights from this season?

ZO: I would say the trip to Middlebury College is one of my favorite highlights from the season. All the guys had a blast on the overnight trip, and we finished it off by beating a top tier team on the road.

PP: How would you describe the fan support at Swarthmore for the team, and has it improved over the last year?

ZO: Since I’ve been at Swarthmore, the fan support has been unbelievable. I’ve only lost two or three games at home in my two years here, and the fan base is a key factor in that. As a team we love seeing the campus coming out, getting wild, and supporting the team. It’s really a lot of fun for everybody.

PP: What was the senior game against Franklin and Marshall like? Did the team appreciate the fans who came out to support?

ZO: The senior game versus Franklin and Marshall was a lot of fun. Swat versus F and M always feels like a rivalry game, as both teams have been at the top the conference since I’ve been here, and beating them on Senior Night and clinching home court for the playoffs made for a very fun win. The team loves all the fans that come out to support — it definitely makes a difference with them there, especially in close games like Senior Night.

PP: How important is home court advantage for the team going into the playoffs?

ZO: Home court advantage is huge for the playoffs. As a team we get to go through the same routine we always do getting ready for home games, which helps us out a lot. The fan base is also another important factor. For fans to be getting dressed up in wild outfits and then come be loud at the games puts the energy and momentum in favor of us from the very tip.

Athlete of the week: Conor Harkins ’21

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The Men’s Basketball team started off this season hot, with a high-scoring 111-89 win over Hood College. Freshman Guard Conor Harkins from Greenwich, Conn. made a big arrival on to the collegiate basketball scene in his first career game, sinking nine three-point shots and scoring 27 points to lead the Garnet in scoring. The Garnet are now 4-0 and ranked 12th nationally, and will play their conference home opener tonight against Muhlenberg College in Tarble Pavilion.

Jack Corkery: What is your intended major, and what made you choose it?

Conor Harkins: I’m not entirely sure yet, but I am leaning towards majoring in economics. I have always been interested in the areas of business and finance and feel that an economics major would best capture that together.

JC: How did you decide to attend Swarthmore College?

CH: There were a lot of factors that went into making me choose Swarthmore. The biggest thing that I saw in Swarthmore were the endless opportunities. Between the top-notch academics and a talented basketball team, Swarthmore seemed like the perfect fit for me. Additionally, on my visits here all of the players and coaches and even other students I met were all nice and fun to hang out with. It was also a great location, being just over two hours away from where I live so not too far but far enough that I didn’t feel like I was still at home.

JC: How has the adjustment to college life been athletically and academically?

CH: At first it was a big adjustment trying to find the right balance and way to manage my time. I think what helped me and I’m sure the rest of the freshmen a lot was the fact that our first semester here is pass/fail. This made the workload seem a little less stressful, and allowed for me to figure out how to schedule my time between sports, academics, and sleep. As for basketball, it is similar to how I thought it was going to be work-wise. It is obviously more serious and takes up more time than high school sports, but it is something I love and am passionate about so it doesn’t seem like a hassle to me. By this point I would say I am pretty settled in and have gotten used to college life, but the biggest difference was just trying to figure out how to effectively use my time.

JC: What was it like sinking 9 threes and scoring 27 points in your first collegiate game?

CH: Going into the game I was definitely a little nervous, but I was also really excited. Scoring 27 points in that first game still feels surreal to me, but it felt great just to simply help the team get a win in the first game of the year. To hit nine threes in my first collegiate game is definitely something I’ll remember for a very long time, and it was a pretty special moment to have both of my parents there for it as well.

JC: Do you have any personal or team goals for the remainder of the season?

CH: Our team goal is to simply be the best we can be everyday. We talked about at the beginning of the year being a top team in the Centennial Conference and even the nation, but Coach Landry does a great job of keeping all of us focused on the next practice or next game, rather than a season-long goal.


FBI Makes Arrests in Illegal NCAA Basketball Recruiting

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Even just a skim through the player bios on the Swarthmore athletics website quickly reveals a common trend, not only applicable to Swarthmore but all of NCAA Division III athletics. In response to the question “Why Swarthmore?”, almost every student praises the college’s emphasis on high-level academics over athletics. This past week, an unfortunate revelation about a widespread fraudulent recruiting system in NCAA Division I men’s basketball proved each Swarthmore student’s point all the more.

According to CNN, following the arrest of 10 coaches, executives, and advisers, the FBI debriefed their investigations into two related schemes to illegally convince high-level recruits to attend certain universities. In one, athletic guidance advisers bribed assistant coaches at the University of Southern California, Oklahoma State University, Auburn University, and University of Arizona to persuade recruits to hire these same advisers. These advisers also participated in the second scheme with sports brand Adidas, paying out cash to recruits to commit to certain universities, including the University of Louisville and the respective universities of the aforementioned coaches. Given the prestige and perennial success of these programs, the situation carries far more than just legal weight, at least from an athletic standpoint.

Apart from the FBI investigation and subsequent charges of wire fraud, bribery, and conspiracy, the controversy has also tarnished the reputation of the basketball programs at the involved universities. All administrations and basketball programs have denied any involvement or knowledge of the fraud, fired the coaches involved, and continue to cooperate with authorities. Since many argued that the head coaches either had or should have had some awareness of the illegal actions, the scandal proved to be the last straw for legendary University of Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino’s famed tenure. With this fraud scandal under his authority as well as other scandals including a previous NCAA violation for hiring prostitutes for prospective recruits, both Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave, likely to be formally fired soon.

However, the greatest potential implication of this controversy has come out of the growing pressure on the NCAA to impose the “death penalty” on the University of Louisville’s basketball program. Although the “death penalty” has not been levied against any NCAA Division I program since SMU’s 1987 football season, the program’s current probation and culture of violating rules could merit the daunting punishment, which would indefinitely ban all men’s basketball operations and activities. With the school’s quick reaction and staff overhaul, this severe of a punishment seems unlikely; however, the program may not be able to escape its harrowed past. On top of that, the Louisville basketball program has been one of the most successful throughout history, particularly in recent memory. Therefore, the death penalty would not only punish the program, but greatly affect the finances of the entire institution. The implications of the charges go far beyond the legal framework and have the potential to affect entire schools.

At the same time, apart from the illegality of the men’s actions, there are also immense ethical implications of convincing recruits to attend academic institutions for reasons other than their individual suitability. Particularly at an academically-oriented school like Swarthmore, the athletics department thankfully does not have to face the same financial pressures. The ethical dilemma also adds to the ongoing debate over whether NCAA student athletes participating in billion-dollar industries should receive compensation apart from scholarships. Similarly, there are also debates taking place regarding whether collegiate level athletics have lost the true spirit of the game, and have instead focused too heavily on performance, profits, and creating professional athletes. Although this issue is unlikely to resolve the greater debates, it serves as just another example for the advocates of the student athlete’s cause.

In the end, the implications and legacy of this narrative are still being written in the impending decisions to be made by the NCAA and the Department of Justice. However, the whole situation has undoubtedly left a mark on far more than the legal records of a few individuals, impacting the reputations of coaches, brands, programs, and even whole universities. Unfortunately, in this situation it would appear the poor decisions of a few will have tremendous implications for many.

Men’s Basketball Blows Blue Jays Away

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For those of you who did not make it out to the men’s basketball game this Saturday, you missed out on a packed senior day filled with phenomenal basketball. As if a tribute to their seniors’ last home game, the Men’s Basketball team obliterated Johns Hopkins University by a final score of 70-48. Usually, basketball games come down to the last heated ten minutes, but on Saturday, due to the team’s peak performance in the first half and a continuing run of plays in the second half, the Swarthmore Garnet had this game locked down as it neared the final buzzer.

This game serves as proof for all of the hard work that the team has been putting in at practice, whether it be those seniors who only have a handful of games left, or the freshman who have quite a few seasons still ahead of them. The constant effort by all the players allowed this victory to not come as a complete shock, even considering their past history with Hopkins. For veteran players such as Michael Rubayo ’17, this was an unprecedented win on his senior night.

“We were not expecting to beat Hopkins by as much as we did, as I had never beaten them in my career here. But it did not surprise us either, we knew that when we play our best basketball, stick together as a team, and put together a strong 40 minutes, like we did on Saturday, we feel like we can play with anyone,” Rubayo said.

While this win had significance for the seniors on their big day and for the team in general to maintain that top conference spot, the players approached this game the same as they would every other. Cam Wiley ’19, the offensive star of the day, put up 25 points and cemented his status as four time player of the week in the Centennial Conference this season. He spoke to his team’s commitment all season to make these moments possible.

“Regardless of the opponent or the game, we work hard each day during practice so that we can continually improve and be our best for the upcoming competition,” Wiley said. “Every member of our team is all in for the next challenge, primarily focused on the game plan and supporting each other throughout. I believe this effort has contributed to our success this season.”

It seems clear that these players attribute this win to the effort of the team. This team displays a commitment to support each of its players including the first years, such as Zac O’Dell ’20. Although young, he has gotten his fair share of playing time, almost averaging 17 minutes a game. While obviously possessing some natural talent, he credits the role the upperclassmen have played for him as part of the reason for his successful season.

“As a freshman I would say I came into the year nervous, but after playing with these guys for months now, the nerves are pretty much gone. The older guys did a great job showing us freshman how things are done around here,” said O’Dell.

Contributions from all teammates left Hopkins struggling to score. Players such as Wiley and Zack Yonda ’18 had high scoring games, but numerous players were able to put up additional points for the Garnet. The constant offensive pressure was made possible by some remarkable defense, in particular, an overwhelming amount of rebounds. O’Dell, Nate Shafer ’20, and Robbie Walsh ’18 managed to snatch eight, seven, and five rebounds respectively. The highlights of the game such as Wiley’s unrelenting 3-pointers and Yonda’s tremendous block, were matched with an underlying tenacity and fight that made every minute enjoyable to watch. Needless to say, having a full audience did not intimidate these players very much.

“The fans provided us with energy for all forty minutes which is something we will need if we are to host the Centennial Championships in a few weeks,” said Rubayo.

Though the influx of students, parents and faculty could have caused the Garnet to fold, players, such as Wiley, managed to play up to the moment based on a strong foundation from practice.

“I attribute my coaches and our team preparation that put myself and others in the position to play well and together. However, I don’t believe the pressure of the game had any bearing on the outcome. My teammates and I have consistently worked hard this entire year for these moments in the season. Therefore, I wouldn’t say that we rose to the occasion, but rather sunk to the level of our training,” said Wiley

Hopkins leaving with a measly 32.7 shooting percentage showed just how strong our men’s basketball team’s level of training is. With only a few games left to decide who gets to host the Centennial Conference tournament, the players have a couple more opportunities to show off the hard work they have put in all season before heading into playoffs.

Men’s Basketball Continues to Rise in NCAA Top 25

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While most Swarthmore students went home and enjoyed their time away from the daily rigor of academics and school life, the Men’s Basketball team stayed put, recognizing the work ahead of them to continue their successful season. Although the team successfully led an unprecedented 22-8 campaign last year, their season ended somewhat bitterly with losses in both the Centennial Conference and ECAC Championships to rival Franklin & Marshall and Neumann respectively.

      With the end of the season came the tedious process of regrouping and rebuilding after losing three vital senior leaders. However, in an effort to avenge the loss, the team added key freshmen contributors, Nate Shafer ’20, Zac O’Dell ’20, Tyler Pasko ’20, and Josh Collin ’20, and set their sights on furthering the previous year’s success. Now leading a strong senior campaign, Sam Lebryk ’17, Chris Bourne ’17, Michael Rubayo ’17 and the rest of the Garnet have started the season off with an impressive 14-3 record. This run has not gone unnoticed too, as the NCAA has rewarded their strong showing, ranking them as highly as No. 16 at the national Division III level.

      After a strong 7-0 start to the season, the Garnet lost their first game as hosts of the Garnet Holiday Tournament to Rowan University in a brutal 92-84 nail biter. However, the team did not let the loss get them down and proceeded to win their next four games in a row, including a blowout win over a one-loss Catholic University squad 88-51. Particularly in the win over Catholic, the team exemplified its maturity, grit, and resilience — dominating the rebounding and points in the paint margins. This is to be expected, though, as Robbie Walsh ’18 has aided a concerted effort by the big men to lead the entire NCAA Division III level in rebound margin for much of the season.

      As O’Dell put it, “I think we have a nice balance of working hard and enjoying our experience along the way. Our guys do a great job of holding each other accountable at practice, in the weight room, and even off the court. It just makes everyone better.”

      The rebounding success, coupled with the skilled ball-handling and agility of point guard and points leader Cam Wiley ’19, has placed the Garnet in a position to succeed going forward. However, a truly successful team also has both camaraderie and a bit of luck. This spark showed through in the victory over Catholic, as three-point specialist Zack Yonda ’18 drained a half-court shot right before the first half buzzer. It looks like the Garnet have all of the tools to make a good run here in the postseason.

      O’Dell described the team’s philosophy going forward, saying “Our goal is just to get a little bit better every day.”

      Now in a strong position at the top the Centennial Conference standings with an 8-2 conference record, the Garnet seek to get back on the NCAA rankings after a few tough consecutive losses. The team will finish out the season with only Centennial conference games, and hopes to continue to ride this legacy of success for seasons to come.

Athlete of the Week: Cam Wiley ’19

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Over the past two weeks, Wiley has been on fire. His 15 ppg are good for 7th in the Centennial Conference, his 2.8 apg put him 13th in the Conference, and his 22 free-throws made are the best mark in the conference. More impressively, Wiley has been able to crack the leaderboard while coming off of the bench and averaging only 19 minutes per game. To put things in perspective, he is averaging 31.6 points per 40 minutes played — 5 points higher than the next best mark. With this type of production, perhaps Wiley may be getting some more minutes in the future.

MAX KASSAN: What do you like most about being a student athlete?

CAM WILEY: Having the ability to balance the schedule and demands of academics and athletics provides a foundation that will extend into the professional world and life after Swarthmore. Plus, I am fortunate to have some of the best teammates and coaches on campus that make it all the more enjoyable.

MK: What is your prospective major and what influenced you to pursue it?

CW: My prospective major is History with a Philosophy minor. I love writing and historical analysis. I plan to attend law school after graduation and ultimately decided on a major that will best prepare me for my studies post-Swarthmore.

MK: What is your favorite Swarthmore athletics memory?

CW: My favorite Swarthmore athletics memory was defeating Dickinson College 77-73 in the semi-finals of the Centennial Conference tournament, and thus competing for a chance to win the first Swarthmore basketball conference championship in history.

MK: How did your experience on the team last year prepare you for this one?

CW: I missed the early part of last season due to injury, and my initial recovery and return to play was a slow process. Nonetheless, our team’s success last season and our great experience abroad in August carried into this year.

MK: What’s your secret for hitting clutch free-throws late in the game?

CW: Coach Landry often reminds us that, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the level of occasion; you sink to the level of your training.” We begin and conclude every practice with time for free throw shooting, and it surely pays off.

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