Those standings look pretty good, huh? William and Mary has been red hot lately, knocking off some of the best CAA teams, such as Northeastern, Hofstra, and JMU. We here at the WM Sports Blog are beyond excited with the team’s current place atop the standings, 10 games into the CAA slate. The Tribe has won 6 of its last 7 contests, and currently holds an 8-2 CAA record, good for the best in the league (can’t stop saying that).
This year’s squad has shown resiliency, depth, pinpoint accuracy, everything you want to see out of a team projected to finish 2nd in the CAA. Marcus Thornton has been consistently double-teamed, leaving the Tribe’s “secondary” scoring threats in Omar Prewitt and Daniel Dixon wide open. Prewitt and Dixon have been on fire lately, combining for an average of 32 points a game during the last three games. Terry Tarpey has been what he has been all year, a stat-stuffing machine. He is close to averaging a double double in CAA play, and finished the JMU game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tarpey may certainly be this year’s MVP.
CAA fans are amazed at how well William and Mary has been playing as of late. The team is showing incredible depth across the board, which will undoubtedly prove valuable down the stretch. The Tribe has enjoyed a great one-two punch off of the bench in do-it-all freshman Greg Malinowski and the ball handling assist-specialist, Oliver Tot.
Malinowski is a sharp shooter from 3 and has shown an ability to drive in the last couple of games. Tot is gaining more and more confidence every game, and is excelling in his role. Some may remember Tot’s one-handed put back jam against Northeastern, or his behind the back no look pass to Omar Prewitt against Hofstra. This kid from Slovakia is a fun player to watch, and we can’t wait to see him establish himself further in the offense during the years to come.
In addition to Tot and Malinowski, senior Tom Schalk has seen his playing time take a significant bump. With junior Sean Sheldon out the past two games with an ankle injury, Schalk has outperformed many Tribe fans’ expectations by contributing a poised, offensive post threat to the Tribe’s already potent offense.
Indeed, the offense has not dropped off at all with Schalk playing in Sheldon’s absence. In the two games Sheldon has been out with injury, William and Mary scored 100 against Hofstra and 84 against JMU, averaging 92 points per game. Schalk has accounted for 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists in the two games since Sheldon’s injury. The senior has more than earned his playing time even when Sheldon returns, adding to the great depth of the Tribe this season.
Speaking of Sean Sheldon, in his first game wearing the full-on ponytail (love it), he went off for a career high 15 points against (then) top-ranked Northeastern. It is scary to think what this team could have put up had Sheldon been playing.
While they may not be ranked as the top offense in the CAA (that title currently belongs to Hofstra), we still think William and Mary has the best offense in the CAA. This team has had incredible accuracy lately, shooting over 50% in its last three games, including an incredible 65% against Hofstra. The Tribe is truly a team where you have to pick your poison. If you double Marcus, then Tarpey, Prewitt, and Dixon are there to pick up the slack. Sheldon had his best game of his career before getting injured, and Tot and Malinowski are scary off the bench.
William & Mary Stock Watch
Daniel Dixon: Daniel Dixon has been an absolute beast lately. After setting a William and Mary record by going 6-6 from the three against Hofstra, he cashed in with a career high 25 points the very next game against JMU. The announcers were raving about Dixon, saying that he has the athletic ability to be a future CAA Player of the Year. That is certainly high praise for Dixon, whom we are watching mature before our very own eyes this year. He currently averages 11 points per game, and has averaged 21.5 per game in his last two.
Omar Prewitt: Along with Dixon, Omar is returning to (and surpassing) the level he was playing at last year when he was named CAA Rookie of the Year. Prewitt has played phenomenally as of late, notching 19 points against Northeastern, and then 21 points against JMU on a day in which he went 9 for 11 shooting. Those are ridiculous numbers, and we hope Prewitt can stay hot. He, along with Dixon, have been taking a lot of pressure off of superstar Marcus Thornton, and these players are making the Tribe’s offense that much harder to defend.
Oliver Tot: Oliver Tot’s confidence is evident in the way he is playing great basketball right now. He started to see a rise in his minutes during the Northeastern game, and he did not disappoint. He is driving to the rim more, and looks much more confident in his shot taking ability. Tot had a back-to-back offensive sequence against Northeastern where he followed a made three with a put back slam worthy of Sportscenter’s Top 10. In the next game, he made a Hofstra defender look silly with a behind the back pass to Prewitt– as well as adding 8 points and 5 assists on 3 for 3 shooting in that game.
Next Contest: William and Mary is currently on a three game road trip, and will face off against the College of Charleston this coming Thursday. Tip off is at 7:30 PM. The team will look for their fourth win in a row, and its 7th victory of its last 8 matchups.
Around the CAA:
The Tribe sits one game ahead of Northeastern and UNC Wilmington, and two full games ahead of James Madison. With Hofstra’s loss to Towson, the Pride are now three games behind the Tribe in the standings. William & Mary still has to face Northeastern, UNCW, and Hofstra on the road in the coming weeks, and will need to win day in and day out in order to secure the #1 seed heading into the CAA tournament.
Looking Ahead: This is one of the deepest teams William and Mary has had in a long time, possibly ever. We are excited and hopeful that this team can make the coveted NCAA Tournament for the FIRST TIME in school history. If the Tribe keeps playing like it has of late, look out. They can make some noise not only in the CAA tournament, but also beyond. Here’s to a great remainder of the season, and to maintain that NUMBER ONE overall seed in the CAA.