We all know how much William and Mary loves history, and thanks to the Tribe’s superstar point guard, we were all witness to it on Wednesday. Marcus Thornton passed Chet Giermak (’50) to become William and Mary’s all time leading scorer! Giermak, now 87 years old, set the bar high when he walked on to the team and tallied 2,052 points during his illustrious career in Williamsburg. Giermak’s scoring record went untouched for an incredible 65 years–the longest active record in all of Division I basketball up to this point.
Going into Wednesday’s game against Towson, Marcus needed just 14 points to topple that record, and he did just that. In what was actually a low scoring affair that ended in a 65-50 win for the Tribe, Marcus came out like a man possessed–breaking the record on a free throw attempt toward the end of the first half. With the free throw, the leader and senior point guard of this year’s Tribe team has firmly established himself atop William & Mary’s Mt. Rushmore.
Thornton sure has come a long way. He has gone from a high school recruit who initially struggled to catch a college coach’s attention, to becoming one of the best mid-major players in the entire country (some might argue the best!). In addition to Marcus shattering W&M’s all-time scoring record, he also leads a team that sits in FIRST place in the CAA. We send out a hearty congratulations to Marcus, and can’t wait for his #3 to be retired and placed among William & Mary’s greats.
The attendance for the game was outstanding. About one hour before tip off, students were notified that classes for the next day were cancelled (due to the impending snowmageddon), and they came out in droves to pack Kaplan Arena. Just over 1,000 students attended the game–which must be a high for this year, and is up there as one of the highest student attendances in quite some time.
It’s also safe to say that Twitter blew up following Marcus’ performance:
Once more, CONGRATULATIONS to Marcus! This couldn’t have happened to a more humble or unassuming player. He gives 150% on and off the court. Head Coach Tony Shaver has said multiple times that Marcus is absolutely the hardest working player that he has ever coached. This work ethic has more than paid off, as Marcus has fully cemented himself as one of the greatest W&M players of all time.If you didn’t see it happen live (or simply want to watch it again), we highly recommend you check out the video below–it was an awesome moment.
It really is a fun time to be a Tribe basketball fan at a time when the team is receiving an unprecedented amount of press from all around the country. This year’s W&M squad is attempting to become the first Tribe team to ever qualify for the NCAA tournament. Currently, the Green and Gold sit at 18-10 (12-5 in the CAA), battling with three other teams atop the CAA. This marks the latest time in regular season play that William and Mary has held the number 1 ranking.
Last week, Head Coach Tony Shaver stated that if the team were in first place after the Northeastern and Hofstra games, he would be happy. Well, Coach Shaver got his wish–and them some, with the most recent win over Towson. While W&M is currently vying for the CAA’s first place spot with three other teams, William and Mary holds the tiebreakers over all of them: JMU, Northeastern, and UNCW.
It’s a simple formula. If William and Mary wins their remaining home game against Drexel, then the Tribe will win the CAA regular season and clinch the #1 seed going into the CAA tournament. Additionally, the team would be guaranteed a bid to at least the NIT if they were to win the CAA’s regular season. An NIT bid would be the first playoff basketball the Tribe has participated in since 2010. But let’s make this clear: this year’s team has its eyes on bigger things.
As many know, the NCAA tournament was founded in 1939, and features 68 teams each year. William and Mary is one of five original Division I teams in the history of the world to have never participated in the NCAA tournament. Perhaps the program’s best opportunity came last season in the CAA Championship game against Delaware. The back and forth game came down to the last shot, taken by Marcus Thornton— which rimmed out, to the dismay of Tribe fans across the nation.
But none of that matters now. All that matters is this final home game and the impending CAA tournament. Yes, securing an NIT bid by finishing atop the CAA regular season standings would be nice, but this team is undoubtedly striving for even greater things.
We believe that this is the year for the Tribe. The team has experienced and sustained the hype–beginning the season projected to finish second in the CAA, while currently holding on to the #1 spot. The team has had to battle adversity, with injuries throughout the season to starters Terry Tarpey, Sean Sheldon, and now Daniel Dixon. W&M has constantly had a target on its back and gets the best out of opposing teams night in and night out (just ask Delaware, Elon, and Charleston).
Most importantly, this squad knows how to beat the top teams. A commonly used sports phrase is “to be the best, you have to beat the best.” Well, that is exactly what this team has done. William and Mary currently holds a 5-1 record against the four teams tied for first (UNCW, Northeastern, and JMU)–which is why W&M holds all the tiebreakers against them. Had it not been for two losses to the bottom two teams in the CAA, the Tribe would have already clinched first place in the division.
Not to mention, the Tribe has Marcus Thornton, arguably the best player to ever suit up in a William & Mary basketball uniform. He is a human highlight reel, a baller and a scholar, and is incredibly humble. He is averaging around 19 points per game, and just broke Chet Giermak’s scoring record to become William & Mary’s all time leading scorer. This team is deep, and it starts with Marcus at the top.
Speaking of depth: Coach Shaver, speaking after Wednesday night’s win vs. Towson, said that he expects Daniel Dixon to be on the court Saturday night vs. Drexel (probable). This is huge news for the Tribe, as Dixon adds an extra dimension on both ends of the court. Offensively, he contributes immensely from behind the arc (averaging 11 pts per game), and is known for blocking shots and his athletic, defensive ability at the other end of the court. We hope to see him back on Saturday.
In the end, this team is one of the best that the College has had in recent memory. The pressure will be on during the CAA tournament, but we are confident. Getting sophomore Daniel Dixon back will be crucial, and will immediately make the Tribe that much stronger. Although current players often brush aside making the NCAA tournament and try not to make it the main focus, we know that Coach Shaver and the boys are hungry to go dancing. We have no doubt that this team will be poised, determined, and come out firing come March 7 in the CAA tournament.
Why not make this the season we end the 75 year NCAA tournament drought?
March on Tribe!