The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Cameron Carlson

Men’s Basketball Concludes Rocky Season 7-17

Well, they say all good things must come to an end. It appears that there will be no postseason this year for men’s basketball. The 76-73 loss to Trinity on Friday Feb. 9 effectively ends the season for the Bobcats, who needed a win and some help from other teams to find their way into the playoffs.

SARAH DU PONT/THE BATES STUDENT
Kenny Aruwajoye ‘22 shoots for the basket while defending against USM in their last game of the season.

Bates trailed nearly the whole way, cutting the score to 74-73 with 24 seconds left to play before ultimately falling by three points after a desperation heave by Jeff Spellman ’20 was off line.

Tom Coyne ’20 continued his productive second half of the season against the Bantams, adding 13 points and a game-high 8 assists in the loss. Nick Lynch ’19 also has been concluding his season in marvelous fashion, pouring in 20 points to account for his seventh consecutive game in double figures.

This caps off a frustrating NESCAC season for our very own Bobcats, as they finish conference play on a 3-game losing streak. The reason that this season has been especially frustrating is that this wasn’t your normal 3-7 season in NESCAC basketball. Typically a team that finishes the year 3-7 in league play is out of contention for the playoffs and likely takes a couple of beatings against the top teams.

This was definitely not the case for the 20182019 Bates Bobcats. They opened the NESCAC season with a blowout loss to Bowdoin–foreshadowing a potential 3-7 finish. However, the guys turned around the very next day and defeated the Colby Mules, who have had quite an impressive year for themselves and also beat Bates in a non-conference matchup before the New Year.

The following weekend, Bates lost close games with both Williams and Middlebury, two of the league’s best. Wins over Tufts and Conn. College in two of the next three games kept them in the conversation for a playoff spot, but the loss against Trinity tipped the balance a little too far for this to be the year for the Bobcats.

This year’s squad was very much an enigma all year long. There’s no question that Coach Furbush was hoping for a better ending, but following this team over the course of the last four months was a very strange experience from a fan’s perspective.

I want to say that this was simply a down year and that Bates just didn’t have the talent to match up with the best teams in the NESCAC. However, I don’t really believe that this is the case. I believe that this team had just as much talent and athleticism as anyone, but they lacked the poise and discipline that it took to grind out a win in a close game.

This is interesting because only three of the top ten guys (in terms of minutes played per game) were seniors, and only one of those seniors was in the top five. Nick Lynch ‘19 will certainly be a tough loss heading into next season, but given that the team that lost a number of close games this year and was very sophomore and junior heavy, things are looking up moving forward.

This entire team now has experienced what it’s like to play close games at the highest level in Division III, and I know that this is not the type of team that opponents would like to face. We’ll see you in 2019-2020.

Who Knew Bates Skiing Was a Family Business?

Bates Nordic Skiing captain Kaelyn Woods ’20 has led the women’s team in every race dating back to the start of the 2018 season, including the start of 2019. She is on a terrific run, slowly writing her way into the Bates skiing record books. After every race Woods is able to celebrate her success with her teammates and coaches. Lots of athletes will call their parents or talk to them in person afterwards if they were able to attend, but for Kaelyn it’s even earlier. As soon as the race ends, she gets to walk over and speak with her head coach about how the event went and how the team is doing. Her head coach is also her mother, Becky Woods, a graduate of Bates in the Class of 1989. Becky and Kaelyn are in the unique position of having a mother-daughter relationship while also having a coach-player relationship. Lots of parents will coach their kids in various sports at a young age, but the collegiate level is a very different story. For Kaelyn, the fact that it is at the collegiate level makes it easier to differentiate between relationships. “I think it’s really easy to separate her roles as my mom and coach. At Bates she’s my coach, at home she’s my mom,” Woods said. “I try really hard to keep it that way, and I think we have a relationship that allows for this to happen really easily,” she added. Being able to live on her own makes it easier to separate the two atmospheres entirely. The nice thing about having her mom as her coach at a point as late in her athletic career as college has been a great experience for Kaelyn, because she has always been involved in Kaelyn’s skiing life to some degree. “I have had other coaches over the course of my career, but no matter what, my mom has always been a coach to me. All my coaches have had different coaching styles from each other and my mom is just another one of them,” she stated. Of course different coaches have different styles, but Becky has always had an influence on Kaelyn’s life and ski career. It could even be nice that after always having a coach at home and a coach at school, now there is only one that has a voice in her ear. And that voice is one that has known her and seen her for her entire career. It is definitely a tricky situation that the Woods duo is in, but the results certainly speak for themselves. In her sophomore year, Kaelyn finished 23rd out of 40 competitors in the women’s 15K freestyle race at the NCAA National Collegiate Skiing Championships, which was the program’s best NCAA championship race since 2012. She is off to an excellent start in the 2019 season and is also in her first year as team captain, sharing the honors with senior Samantha Pierce. There’s no doubt that this can be a hard situation to find success in, but Kaelyn and Becky are making the most of it, exceeding expectations in the process.

There’s Still Hope for Men’s Basketball

Starting the year 4-12 isn’t the way they drew it up, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch the Men’s Basketball team this season. This past weekend, the team welcomed the Middlebury Panthers and the Williams Ephs for two home conference games. For those who don’t know, Middlebury and Williams are consistently two of the top teams in the NESCAC and this year is no exception. Middlebury was 11-4 coming into the game and Williams sat at 13-0 while holding a No. 3 national ranking. Despite coming out of the weekend with two losses, there are several positives and definite building points for the guys moving forward.

 SARAH DUPONT/THE BATES STUDENT
Jeff Spellman ‘20 looks for a pass.

After starting the season on a bad note, Head Coach Jon Furbush recently decided to implement a 1-3-1 zone to try and throw a different look at teams that weren’t used to facing this defense. The goal of this zone is to apply constant pressure to the ball while hopefully forcing a trap and getting a steal. Because it often involves a double-team, one man on the opponent’s team is left open and a sequence of good passes can result in an open 3-pointer. What Middlebury did right was remain calm under pressure and not let Bates bait them into making too many bad passes. It also felt like they hit every single shot that they took, and the stats show that this feeling wasn’t totally unfair. On the way to putting up 100 points, the Panthers made 17 of 33 total 3-point shots, resulting in an impressively high 51.5% rate from beyond the arc. The game was close most of the way and never got totally out of hand, but Middlebury hit just enough shots to sneak away with a win.

The Williams game was a completely different story. Bates jumped ahead early and even got the lead up to 14 points midway through the first half. The Ephs are an incredibly talented team who shoot the ball very well generally, but they struggled mightily against the 1-3-1 zone. They visibly looked uncomfortable at times and turned the ball over quite often on silly mistakes. Although the Bobcats led much of the way, outcome was much like the night before.

Williams battled to stay in the game and they eventually were able to pull away at the very end because of their immense talent and size.

Most of the time an 0-2 weekend isn’t worth focusing on, much less writing about, but this wasn’t your typical 0-2 weekend. Single-digit losses against one of the top teams in the conference and one of the top teams in the nation isn’t a terrible showing from a squad that has really struggled at times this season.

The next test on the schedule comes this Saturday at 3pm when the Tufts Jumbos come to town in what will be a very winnable game for the Bobcats. Tufts is a good team that has played well this season, but they don’t quite have the same talent that we see on rosters like Middlebury and Williams. Hopefully the Bates faithful will pack the gym and make it a fun one to be at for another huge NESCAC matchup this weekend.

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