Men’s basketball not only graduated two starters last season, but also saw former Head Coach Dave Paulsen leave the program to coach at Bucknell. Under the leadership of new Head Coach Mike Maker, Williams looks to build off a strong showing in Italy this summer and find the consistency that it lacked last season.
Last year, the Ephs went 17-8 in the regular season (4-5 in the NESCAC) and suffered a 96-59 loss to second-seeded Middlebury that knocked the men out of the first round of the NESCAC tournament. The Ephs, who won the conference title two years ago, hope to again contend at that level this season.
While adjusting to a new head coach is never easy, the Ephs eased the transition from Paulsen to Maker with a trip to Italy this summer. Meeting Maker at the airport, the men quickly adjusted to his coaching style, going 3-1 in exhibition matches against Italian clubs. “The trip to Italy this summer was an incredible experience for our entire basketball program,” said Maker. “The chemistry that we were able to build as a basketball program – the coaches, the players, everyone – was great, and experiencing another culture like that was incredible.”
Maker comes to Williams with plenty of experience. He has been an assistant coach in Div. I for several years, coaching at Dartmouth for 11 years, Samford for three years, West Virginia for two and Creighton for a season before he became head coach of the Ephs.
“Our goals for this year are simple,” Maker said. “They are to get our team to play to the best of their ability, and to represent our school the way it deserves to be represented on and off the court. We want to play basketball with intelligence and passion. I am sure with the character of the players on our team we will be able to that.”
Maker added that his goals for this team include more than just tournament wins. “Obviously, we would love to fare well in NESCAC play and the Little Three, but those aren’t things we talk about,” Maker said. “We want to play the game the right way with plenty of passion and intelligence and chemistry. We want to make all the Williams alums and the student body and everyone in Williamstown proud.”
The team this year will be led by co-captains Michael Kearney ’09 and Kevin Snyder ’09. After losing starters Chris Rose ’08 and Chris Shalvoy ’08 to graduation, the team will look to returning starters Snyder, Blake Schultz ’10 and Joe Geoghegan ’10 to lead the team’s offensive efforts on the court.
“[Those three] are all able to score the ball,” Maker said. “They have proven that they are the foundation of our program – they are a very talented trio.”
Tommas Golia ’09 and Alex Rubin ’10 will prove valuable for the Ephs at guard this season. Grant Meyer ’09 and Troy Whittington ’11 will also be key in the team’s success.
Not only are there only two weeks of preparation before the season starts, the team is in the process of learning an entirely new system. Maker will be implementing an offence that brings in elements of the styles used by all of the coaches he has worked with in the past, including coach John Beilin of West Virginia’s Two Guard Offense.
“I’ve been used to working with my players for hours in the day in the fall, and we can’t do that here,” Maker said. “In order to have as much success as we like, we need to get as prepared as possible, and we simply don’t have the same kind of time in Div. III as there is in Div. I. Because of our kids’ intelligence they have been able to absorb things really quickly. Their ability to understand the information quickly has been helpful because we only have had two weeks of practice before our first game.”
The team opens its season at Keene State on Saturday and begins NESCAC play against Wesleyan at home on Nov. 25.