The Bobcat men’s basketball team is off to a great start in NE- SCAC play as they sit at 2-1 after two weekends of games, putting them in 3rd place in the confer- ence behind just Colby and Tufts.
In their opening NESCAC game, Bates relied on some last-second heroics from Kody Greenhalgh ’20 to steal the win on the road at Wesleyan. This past weekend the Bobcats fell to Amherst on Friday but responded in a big way on Saturday, taking down Hamilton in a relatively lopsided victory. One of the biggest catalysts behind the hot start in league play has been first year Omar Sarr ’23. In conference play, Sarr is leading the NESCAC in both rebounds and blocks per game and he has made his pres- ence felt in the paint thus far.
“I think that we saw a huge coming out party this weekend for Omar” said senior point guard Nick Gilpin ’20. “It’s huge for us to have someone who can protect the rim the way that he did.”
Sarr has come a very long way as a player even since just the beginning of this season: he has gone from being a some- what rough around the edges center with raw athleticism to one of the most valuable rim protectors in the league with good touch on the offensive end.
Fellow first year Stephon Baxter ’23 has also been a huge addition to this year’s squad. The defensive spark that Baxter brings off the bench is huge for Bates and allows Coach Fur- bush to mess around a bit with some of his defensive matchups. Baxter is also lightning quick and has displayed an impressive ability to create his own shot and make tough finishes.
This is not meant to overshadow the fact that the senior backcourt quartet of Nick Gil- pin ’20, Jeff Spellman ’20, Tom Coyne ’20, and Kody Greenhalgh ’20 have looked much improved from last season and have done a very nice job leading the team to this point.
Starting the year 2-1 in NESCAC play when your first three games are against Wesleyan, Amherst, and Hamilton is not a bad place to be in. These three teams are typically towards the top of the league and have had good starts to the season so far.
It also bodes well for the Bobcats that they were able to quickly shake off the loss to Amherst and come back to trounce Hamilton less than 24 hours later. The Amherst game was a battle most of the way but it got a bit out of hand late and had the potential to be very dis- couraging at the end of the day.
“I felt like we respond- ed extremely well to adver- sity” added Gilpin. “After los- ing Friday to Amherst, the Saturday game against Ham- ilton was a huge one for us and we came out and played prob- ably our best game of the year.”
Bates’ next NESCAC con- test is on Saturday on the road at Tufts. They follow that up the next weekend by taking on Colby and Bowdoin on Friday and Saturday, both at home. This is going to be a crucial stretch The Everlasting Battle Between Academia and Athletics for the team as they’ll go up against the top two teams in the conference in Tufts and Colby.
If they can find a way to at least take one of those two games and then take down Bowdoin, who they’ve already beaten once this year, there’s a chance they could be playing the last four games of their season with the opportunity to host a first-round NESCAC Tournament game on the line.
This has been a very exciting start to the year for the men’s basketball team, but it would be too early to start getting ahead of ourselves like that. Crazy things happen in NESCAC basketball, so who knows what the next 7 games over the course of January and February will bring. See you on Saturday in Medford.