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Linking Around the NESCAC | December 9

Welcome to Linking Around the NESCAC, your one-stop shop for all the news throughout the conference. With the weekend and winter break rapidly approaching, here’s the links to get you going:

Tweet of the Day (CBB Edition):

Men’s Basketball | Dec. 8 NESCAC Power Rankings

Teams will be on hiatus shortly when winter break rolls around, so here’s one more edition of NESCAC Power Rankings to get you going. Not much has happened in the past week, but teams are solidifying themselves as legitimate contenders while once-success stories might be fading.

Let’s get to it:

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Linking Around the NESCAC | December 8

The weekend is almost upon us, so to get you there faster, here are the top links from around the conference, courtesy of NESCAC Insider.

Here we go:

Tweet of the Day (Admission Criteria Edition) :

Linking Around the NESCAC | December 7

Just a week or so before teams begin to break for winter recess, so get the constant daily news while you can, only on NESCAC Insider!

Here we go:

The following NESCAC players were named to the D3football.com All-East Region Team:

TE Billy Chapman, Middlebury (1st Team Offense)
DT Kevin Ferber, Amherst (1st Team Defense)
RB Eric Bunker, Amherst (2nd Team Offense)
T Ryan Moores, Middlebury (3rd Team Offense)
LB Walter Fallas, Trinity (3rd Team Defense)

The Williams women’s basketball team is on a roll, and recently cracked the national top 15, writes Jacob Blau of the Williams Record.

Ellery Gould scored a career-high 25 points as Bowdoin avenged two straight losses and set a program record with 66 first-half points in a 99-64 blowout of Husson.

Continuing with the NESCAC community service theme set yesterday, the Bowdoin ice hockey teams are set to host their annual “Skate With the Polar Bears” Food Drive this Saturday.

While the Colby women’s team lost its first game this season, the Mules men lost to Thomas for the second time ever, 81-79, writes Matt DiFilippo of the Kennebec Journal.

Wesleyan guard Shasha Brown added an ECAC Player of the Week award to his haul after taking home NESCAC Player of the Week honors.

Tweet of the Day (Pearl Harbor Memorial Edition):

Rapid Reaction: Nor’easters sink No. 14 Mules’ undefeated season

Perhaps I have been slightly overzealous in my talks of Colby over the past two weeks—just barely falling short of declaring them the second coming of the 90’s Chicago Bull—but no one could have seen them go so quickly from double-digit win after double-digit win to an overtime defeat at the hands of the unranked University of New England. The game was close throughout, but an 11-3 run in the extra period all but assured a Nor’easters victory. What can we take from such an abrupt and surprising defeat? Let’s find out:

1. Going, Going, Vaughan: Senior forward Jill Vaughan has become a vital cog in the Colby lineup; she is 11th in the NESCAC in scoring and 3rd in rebounds. So when Vaughan picked up her third foul just over a minute into the second half, all but forcing coach Julie Veilleux to sit her for the better part of the 10 minutes, trouble was already brewing. Facing foul trouble in both halves, Vaughn managed to play just 27 minutes, eventually fouling out in the final minute of overtime. Kelly Potvin didn’t contribute nearly the type of numbers Vaughan does in her place, tallying just three points and two rebounds in 21 minutes. It’s a testament to Vaughan’s skills that she still managed to score eight points and four boards in her time on the court, but she will need to learn from this game in order to not repeat it. She is far too value to the Mules to be giving away unimportant shooting fouls early in games, and with teams likely to be gunning for her from now on, she will need to improve her decision making the rest of the way.

2. Necessary Roughness: Coming into tonight, no team had been within eight points of the Mules at any time past the ten minute mark of the second half. But it was unrealistic to believe they could keep that up all season, and without needing to build up a resolve late in games the first close game was bound to be a major challenge. It did not help that it came against a battle-tested University of New England side that won its first two games of the season by a combined three points. To their credit, Colby put together some effective possessions late in regulation to force overtime, but from there they looked flat. They missed their first three shots and their first two free throws, and in a five minute game of basketball, there is no coming back from that. On the bright side, the Mules were probably better off learning to deal with adversity now then having to adapt to it on the fly in important NESCAC matchups.

3. No Longer Lonely at the Top: In recent years, the NESCAC has been the end-all-be-all in the Northeast. This is largely in part to a strong middle tier of Colby, Bowdoin, Williams and Tufts that has consistently boosted the conference as a whole. During the ’09-’10 season, the four lost just six total regular season non-conference games, and followed that up by losing only five in ’10-’11. Yet here we are, less than a month into the season, and the quartet has already dropped four such games. There is more athletic talent than ever in the Northeast, and teams like Southern Maine and the University of New England are no longer mid-week walk overs for these powerhouse NESCAC sides. They are now just as quick and strong—the Nor’easters boast six players 5-foot-10 or taller, the Mules have just five—and arguably have more motivation, with any NESCAC opponent undoubtedly highlighted on their schedule. The conference is going to need to adjust as a whole one way or another, or it is at risk to lose some of those precious NCAA tournament bids it has been gifted in recent years.

Ethan Sturm covers women’s basketball for NESCAC Insider. He can be followed on Twitter @Esturm90.

Women’s Basketball | Dec. 6 NESCAC Power Rankings

With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, sleep-deprived college students are walking around like zombies all over New England. But that hasn’t slowed this basketball season, and with the NESCAC’s first inter-conference matchup of the season in the books and plenty else to talk about, I felt compelled to still get you your (slightly abridged) power rankings. Just one more week of games separates us from the teams’ winter breaks, so let’s get right to it:

(Rankings and Results through Dec. 5)

No. 1 Amherst (5-0) ↔

Last Week: W vs. Keene State 66-45, W vs. Lehman 88-33

While D3Hoops.com hyped up the Lord Jeffs’ matchup with Keene State as a “battle of the undefeated,” I felt confident sticking to my assertion from last week that Amherst wouldn’t be tested for the remainder of 2011, and they justified my point jumping out to a 35-12 lead in the first half. If anyone from the northeast is going to give the Lord Jeffs a run for their money, that team will undoubtedly be from the ‘CAC.

No. 2 Colby (5-0) ↔

Last Week: W vs. Thomas 87-26, W vs. Bowdoin 56-41.

And if someone was going to hang tough with Amherst, the Mules would be the team to do it. Despite beginning the season in the Top 15, Colby has proven they were underrated, and their dominant victory over then-No. 10 Bowdoin only drove the point home further. The fact that they earned the victory with star senior forward Rachael Mack having an off-night says a lot about the all-around team coach Julie Veilleux has put together. Senior forward Jill Vaughn, who had a double-double in the win, looks to be another major threat in a team full of them.

No. 3 Williams (6-0) ↔

Last Week: W vs. Bridgewater State 89-63, W vs. Daemen 71-45

By sweeping the second straight mini tournament it has hosted this season, the Ephs have further defined the gap between the haves and the have nots of the NESCAC. Both weekends, Williams invited a NESCAC and two non-conference sides to play, and while the Ephs are 4-0 in such games—only one of which was decided by less than 20 points—Tufts and Middlebury have gone a combined 0-4. The Lord Jeffs, Mules and Ephs may be well on their way to forming a triumvirate similar to that of Williams, Middlbury and Amherst on the men’s side.

No. 4: Tufts (5-2): ↑

Last Week: W vs. Salem State 63-31, W vs. St. Joseph’s 76-45, W at Regis 65-53

What is impressive about the Jumbos is not that they are winning—that is to be expected of a strong NESCAC side in November and December—but how they are doing it. They have two freshmen and a sophomore starting for the first time all averaging more than seven points per game and an all-around player in senior Tiffany Kornegay that is supplying nine points, seven boards, three steals and three assists nightly. But perhaps most important is the seemingly full recovery of senior Kate Barnosky, who is providing the team with a consistent source of points.

No. 5 Connecticut College (6-1) ↔

Last Week: L vs. Western Conn. 83-69, W at Rivier 79-50, W vs. St. Joseph’s 72-47, W vs. Mitchell 82-35.

Though the Camels loss to an undefeated Western Connecticut side that is shooting up the rankings is far from a disappointment, the manner in which they one showed that the Camels are likely still a few steps short of the conference’s elite. Despite out-rebounding them significantly, Conn had no answer defensively for the Colonials, who shot 44.8 percent from the field and put five players, including two off the bench, in double figures. Three wins to close out the week proved that the Camels are capable of bouncing back and playing through fatigue.

No. 6 Bowdoin (3-2) 

Last Week: L vs. Southern Maine 63-49, L vs. Colby 56-41.

I’ve already talked about this team and their struggles plenty this week, but suffice to say they need to turn things around quickly. They plummeted from 10th in the nation to unranked in the course of one week, and the road doesn’t get much easier: they play Bates on Thursday.

No. 7 Bates (4-1) ↑

Last Week: W vs. Husson 83-51, W at Maine-Farmington 84-46, W at Massachusetts College 87-69, W at Norwich 74-62

Like Tufts this team is young: sophomore Meredith Kelly is averaging 16 points off the bench while junior Allie Beaulieu is contributing 14. There is no question that Bates can put points on the board, but how will their defense hold up against better competition.

No. 8 Wesleyan (4-1) ↓

Last Week: W vs. Maine-Presque Isle 76-32, W vs. Anna Maria 58-29

Yes the Cardinals are racking up plenty of wins, but who have they beaten? They’ve played only one team above .500 for the season, and that game is their one loss. We’ll see what kind of team they really are when they travel to Williams this weekend.

No. 9: Trinity (3-3) ↔

Last Week: W at Lasell 68-58, L at Western Connecticut 72-48, W vs. Salem State 65-57, L vs. Worcester State 67-55

Through six games this season, the Bantams have failed to win two in a row, which just doesn’t cut it in the NESCAC. They have consistent point contributors, but need to start playing better defense; opponents are shooting 41.6 percent against them on the season, the worst in the conference by nearly five percent.

No. 10: Middlebury (2-3) 

Last Week: W vs. Castleton State 48-35, L vs. Daemen 59-41, L vs. Bridgewater State 80-55

The Panthers came into this past week rested and ready to go, but after getting a midweek win laid an egg in Williamstown over the weekend. Most concerning is their offense, which has broken 60 points just once this year. What’s most evidently lacking is a go-to player; Middlebury has none of the top 25 scorers in the conference.

No. 11: Hamilton (3-4) 

Last Week: W vs. Elmira 59-40, L vs. Union 49-39, L vs. Utica 48-44, W at Wells 52-23

When Hamilton does manage to win, it wins ugly. Against a clearly overmatched Wells side, the Continentals still only managed 52 points. Junior Madie Harlem is undoubtedly a talent averaging 17 points per game, but single-tract offenses don’t cut it in the NESCAC any more than 48 point performances do.

Ethan Sturm covers women’s basketball for NESCAC Insider. He can be reached on Twitter @Esturm90