Merry Christmas! We here at the Blog are finally done with the stress of finals and are busy enjoying our time with family and away from Swem Library. However, one thing we do miss is attending a Green and Gold game at the Kap!
We are checking in to update you on where the basketball team currently stands and tell you a bit about how they got there. We’re already about a third of the way through the season! Hard to believe, isn’t it?
So far, the Tribe has played 10 of 29 slated games, with W&M’s record currently standing at 6-4. After an impressive 5-1 start that included a five game win streak, the team has struggled lately, going just 1-3 since the Wofford game. Recent games have included a heartbreaking loss against Richmond, as well as losses to Big South Conference Champion High Point, and to a high-powered Old Dominion Monarchs team (who are now 10-1).
The Tribe is primarily rotating 8 players so far this season: Michael Schlotman, Jack Whitman, and Greg Malinowski are all contributing well off the bench. Impressively, three of the Tribe’s starting five average double digit scoring (Thornton, Dixon, and Prewitt), and the team averages a combined 69.7 points per game. The other two starters are, of course, Sean Sheldon and Terry Tarpey. As was the case last year, the Tribe is dependent upon the three point shot. However, the squad is having some incredible success beyond the ark up to this point in the season, ranking 21st in the nation in 3-point percentage!
To begin the season, the Tribe faced off against Florida, who was then ranked 7th in the nation. W&M would go on to lose 68-45. Billy Donovan’s Florida team unsurprisingly proved too much for the Tribe, who were missing routine shots and appeared fatigued–with W&M rolling just 6 players throughout the contest. It didn’t help that both Michael Schlotman and Terry Tarpey were both out for the season opener, leaving the Tribe shorthanded. Nonetheless, this was the first game of the year against a superior opponent in Florida, the 7th ranked team in the land.
After the loss in Gainesville, the Tribe went on a tear, winning five straight. During this stretch, the team scored 100 points one game (against Bluefield College), handled Western Illinois, and defeated a very strong mid-major squad in Wofford. After the win against Wofford, a squad that made the NCAA tournament a season ago, the Tribe sat at an impressive 5-1 overall record. Next, they traveled to Richmond, to take on a long time rival, the Richmond Spiders.
In the Richmond game, Marcus Thornton went off, scoring a ridiculous 37 points (his career high). Thornton sunk shot after shot — consistently hitting jumpers, driving into the lane, and converting on shots with several opposing Spiders in his face. With five seconds to go, Omar Prewitt had a chance to tie it up at the charity stripe. Unfortunately, the shot did not fall; Thornton’s valiant effort was not enough, as the Tribe fell in a heart breaker to Richmond, 68-67.
Next on the slate for the Tribe was a road game versus High Point. William & Mary wanted to avenge the Tribe’s loss a season ago, when High Point came to Williamsburg and won 80-69. This year’s contest was back and forth, and at the end of the first half, the score was 28-27 William and Mary. The Tribe exploded at the start of the second half, going on a 14-0 run over the first 3 minutes and taking a huge 42-27 lead.
The game appeared to be over, but this was not the case. In the next 13 minutes of play, the Tribe went cold. Or should we say, they froze. In that stretch, W&M was outscored an astonishing 23-4. High Point would eventually take the lead and down the Tribe in a disappointing loss.
In the next game, William and Mary played DIII Washington College. As they should, the Tribe absolutely handled them by a score of 86-46. The team shot almost 50 percent from the 3 point line and appeared to be getting back on track after the aforementioned losses to High Point and Richmond. W&M then faced off against yet another in-state rival, Old Dominion–a team that came in with a 9-1 record, having already defeated powerhouse VCU.
William and Mary hung tough, but in the end, the Monarchs out-rebounded the Tribe, and W&M’s missed free throws proved costly. William and Mary shot just 55% from the line, and missed a lot of 1 and 1 chances. Terry Tarpey also got into early foul trouble, which certainly didn’t help the Tribe’s chances. In the end, the Tribe fell 69-62 to the Monarchs.
Mid-season Stock Watch
Marcus Thornton: How can he not be on this list? Marcus scored an incredible 37 points against Richmond, and is the leading point-getter on the team. He averages 19.3 points per game, and has been on a tear lately, averaging over 23 points in his last 5 games. We hope and certainly believe he can continue this production and finish the year with an average PPG north of 20.0. He is the clear-cut leader of the team, and can single handedly keep the Tribe in any game this year. He will play a large role in the Tribe’s aspirations of winning the CAA and making it to the NCAA tournament.
Daniel Dixon: We have been very impressed with Dixon’s maturation in Head Coach Tony Shaver’s system. It was reported that the Tribe coaches told him that he needed to step up in the scoring column this season, and he has more than responded. Dixon has seen a huge boost in overall minutes (up 15 minutes a game from last year), and with increased time, he is seeing increased production (averaging 10.7 points per game). He has been a starter all season, as he and fellow sophomore Omar Prewitt continue to form a dynamic duo beside Marcus Thornton. Dixon seems to be thriving in his new role, and has put up double digit point totals in 5 of his last 6 games.
Terry Tarpey: Tarpey is the type of player that truly is a score sheet stuffer. He is all over the court, and is the type of player who does a little bit of everything. He leads the team in rebounds per game (6.7), assists per game (3.3), steals per game (1.1), and blocks per game (1.8). On top of all of this, Tarpey has vastly improved his point production this season. Whereas last year Tarpey would tend to shy away from a 3 point shot, this year he rises to the challenge. Tarpey is not only taking threes, but he’s making them. This makes it harder on opposing defenses, which already have to keep an eye on Thornton, Prewitt, and Dixon. Forcing them to cover Tarpey on the three line, and respect his improved scoring ability, stretches defenses and creates open lanes for the rest of the Tribe’s scorers.
Conclusion: As mentioned, William & Mary has been struggling a bit as of late, but the team has been playing against some good competition. The Tribe has one out of conference game left against UNC, then travels home to kick off the CAA slate against the College of Charleston on January 3rd. As of right now, it seems that the CAA is wide open. W&M figures to be in the top 3, along with Hofstra and Northeastern. However, both JMU and Elon have also been playing good basketball thus far, so anything can happen.
As mentioned, the Tribe will soon travel to UNC’s Dean E. Smith Center looking to put up a fight. UNC is ranked 20th in the latest AP top 25, and is the “superior” team. We here at the Blog will be making the trek from NOVA down to Chapel Hill to watch our Tribe take on the Tar Heels; we hope to see some of you there!
Mark your Calendars: William and Mary will take on Northeastern, the preseason number 1 team in the CAA, on Saturday January 24th. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network. Come out and cheer on the Tribe as they look to establish themselves as the number 1 team in the CAA! It is also the Gold Rush game, so wear Gold and come support the Tribe! While the season is already a third of the way done, we are excited for the CAA schedule to begin, starting January 7 against the College of Charleston! LET’S GO TRIBE!!!