As another school year comes to a close, Tribe athletes receive a well-earned Summer break. The year has been full of ups and downs for Tribe athletics, but in my opinion, has been mostly up. In case you’ve been out of the loop, let’s recap how Football, Basketball, and Baseball fared this year.
The beginning of the Football season offered renewed hope for a Jimmye Laycock squad coming off a forgettable 2-9 season. This year’s team rebounded incredibly well and finished the season with an impressive 7-5 record—a remarkable 5 more wins than the year before.
This year’s Football team was led by a punishing defense, which finished as one of the most dominant defenses in the entire Football Championship Subdivision. The squad fell one game short of garnering an NCAA playoff bid when they lost a crucial away game versus the Richmond Spiders by a score of 31-20.
Overall, it was a successful year for William & Mary Football. Next year’s defense returns several key starters and looks to continue their dominance next season. On the offensive side, a stable of running backs and outstanding wide receiver Tre McBride (in my and many others’ opinion, the best WR in the CAA) return to bolster an offensive unit that underperformed down the stretch last season.
On to the Basketball season. What really turned out to be the most surprising story of the 2013-2014 year was the emergence of a dominant Tribe basketball team. William & Mary, led by Junior guard Marcus Thornton, finished the season with a very impressive 20-12 (10-6 CAA) record.
Bolstered by a strong stable of guards in Brandon Britt, Marcus Thornton, Omar Prewitt, and others, the Tribe’s high-octane offense was able to explode in several games. The Tribe finished 3rd overall in the CAA regular season, behind #2 Towson and #1 Delaware—well exceeding the expectations of most sports pundits’ pre-season forecasts.
Attempting to qualify for the first NCAA March Madness tournament in program history, the Tribe defeated a very strong Towson team in the semifinals of the CAA tournament. In the final game of the CAA tournament, William & Mary faced a daunting task in Delaware—the regular season CAA leader who had dominated teams all season.
In the end, William & Mary fell one point short of a first-ever NCAA tournament bid in the CAA championship game by a score of 75-74. Even still, the team garnered an incredible outpouring of support from the William & Mary community, especially on social media outlets, for one of the most amazing basketball seasons in recent memory— truly a sight to behold.
On the other hand, the team missed its chance at an NCAA tournament bid and goes into next season with a bad taste in its mouth. The Basketball team loses several key cogs in seniors Tim Rusthoven, Julian Boatner, and Brandon Britt next season, but retains 3-year phenom, Marcus Thornton.
Thornton has one year left as a senior to bring the team to the promised land. But any way you look at it, Thornton has brought the program to new heights, well beyond the expectations of Tribe fans everywhere.
Moving on, the final season of the athletic year centered around Tribe Baseball. Coming off a season that saw the team garner an NCAA tournament bid, the Baseball team came in with high expectations. Several key bats were in place, and although pitching was a slight question mark going into the season, more than enough remained.
The team was able to sustain incredible performances at the plate this season, led by Nick Thompson (.368) and Michael Katz (.363). Combined, Thompson and Katz had a monster 112 RBIs. Offense was the mantra for this year’s team.
Tribe Baseball finished the year with a 34-22 record, and placed #1 in the CAA regular season. However, the #1 seed in the CAA tournament wasn’t enough for William & Mary to overcome great pitching from #2 seeded College of Charleston, who eventually beat the cold-hitting W&M squad in the CAA tournament.
Although the Baseball team did not receive an NCAA tournament bid, the season has to be seen as a success— capping a stellar overall sports year from all William & Mary athletic teams. Football, Basketball, and Baseball garnered a combined 61-39 (.610) record, which has to be up there as one of the best year’s in William & Mary’s last couple of decades.
With the reemergence of the William & Mary Basketball and Baseball programs, coupled with the Football program’s steady success, William & Mary is truly emerging on the national stage as one of the premier “mid-conference” sports schools. This success on the field, court, and diamond will surely attract even more qualified student-athletes who are motivated to sustain the current success enjoyed by William & Mary athletics.