Men’s basketball (1-0) got off to a good start on Saturday, defeating Keene State (0-1) 81-70 on the road. The win gave new Head Coach Mike Maker a victory in his first game at the helm of the Eph squad.
The Ephs knew they had a challenge ahead of them heading into the game. Keene State’s Tyler Kathan was named a pre-season All-American and would prove to be the offensive force behind the Owls. Knowing this, however, Williams managed to hold Kathan to 20 points on 39 percent shooting.
“We knew that he was going to get his points, but we wanted to make sure he had to work for them,” Maker said. “We concentrated on good team defense. We had a lot of people cover him, and we doubled him in the post, and we just tried to stay in front of him on the perimeter; he’s tough to stop, but we made him earn each of his 20 points.”
As a whole, Williams’ defense was incredibly effective and was key in the Ephs victorious outcome. Williams held Keene State to 36 percent shooting and only 17 free throw attempts throughout the game, with only one player other than Kathan scoring more than 10 points.
“The best part of the game was our effort on the defensive end and our mental toughness against their full court pressure after only two weeks of practice,” Maker said. “As a group, we were committed to team defense.”
The Owls were not able to say the same of their defense. The Ephs shot only 42 percent from the field, but shot 29 of 36 from the line. Four Ephs scored in double digits en route to their 81-70 victory.
Co-captain Kevin Snyder ’09 led the way with a game-high 24 points, five rebounds, one steal and a team-high four assists. Snyder’s dominant play earned him NESCAC Player of the Week honors. “Kevin’s our co-captain and a terrific all around basketball player,” Maker said. “He’s cerebral, highly skilled and tough-mindedÃ¢â‚¬”he makes everyone around him better. His teammates and our coaches feel great when the ball is in his hands.”
But the co-captain was far from the only contributor on the offensive end. Blake Schultz ’10 had 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals, and Joe Geoghegan ’10 started off the season with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Ethan Timmins-Schiffman ’10 came off the bench to contribute 11 points and six rebounds.
Maker has especially been focused on chemistry thus far this season. “Team chemistry is everything,” Maker said. “We have been able to cultivate it because we have the opportunity to coach wonderful young men. When you have character people, it’s easy to coach them. It’s not easy to put the team in front of your own personal goals, and I think our team has done that.”
Maker was pleased with the way his team started the season. “It was wonderful to win this weekend,” he said. “I was happy for our players. Winning on the road is hard at any level. You have to have toughness, poise, and commitment. It feels good for the team, but it’s a small step toward where we have to go.”
Snyder agreed. “Keene State is a really physical athletic team, so it was a good test for us,” he said. “Not to mention getting Coach Maker his first win was great. It was a good beginning to the season.”
Snyder also gave credit to his new coach. “We had that team chemistry before [Maker] got here, but he has emphasized it even more and it’ll definitely be one of our strengths [this season],” he said.
This weekend the Ephs will host the Williams Invitational. Williams will play Southern Vermont on Friday at 8 p.m. in Chandler gymnasium. Ursinus and St. Lawrence play at 6 p.m. The consolation game is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with the final at 3 p.m.