Well, now that the football season has wrapped up, it’s time to move on to William & Mary TRIBE BASKETBALL! As you know, W&M is several games in to the season, and there’s plenty to talk about. The Green and Gold has gotten off to a great start, one of the best in program history, and we’re very excited about what this squad has in store for us this year. Unfortunately, the CAA looks very strong right now. But we’ll have to wait and see how this season unfolds. Even still, one thing is for sure, whoever wins the conference this year will really have to earn it.
Current William & Mary Record: [5-3, 0-0 CAA] 3-0 home 2-3 away
– WIN [1-0]
W&M 85 @ NC State 68: William & Mary shocked the basketball world, and came out FIRING in this game. The Tribe didn’t trail the entire contest, and was even up by 15+ points to start the game. At the half, the score was 51-35 Tribe, as the entire team was clicking on all cylinders. Daniel Dixon (19 pts) and Omar Prewitt (17 pts) led the way, as the Dixon-Prewitt duo has already become a common theme in this young season. Senior captain Terry Tarpey also garnered an incredible 5 steals, while also tacking on 11 points, quickly picking up where he left off last season. NC State was picked to finish 6th in the ACC, a conference that will surely be the best in the nation at year’s end. Despite that, the Tribe absolutely rolled over them, connecting on 51.7% of field goal attempts, going 40.9% from three point range, and hitting 73.7% of free throws.
– WIN [2-0]
W&M 70 @ Liberty 59: William & Mary got out to a slower start in this one, especially when compared to the NC State game. It took a while for the Tribe to adjust in its second game on the road in as many contests, as the Tribe trailed Liberty at the half, 38-35. W&M was never really able to get into a solid rhythm, but its depth and solid shooting prevailed in the end–albeit without much help from beyond the 3-point line, only connecting on 2 threes in the contest. Omar Prewitt again led the way with 16 points, as did Sean Sheldon who finished with an efficient 12 points on 6-8 shooting. W&M would go on to outscore the Flames 35-21 in the second half, and do just enough to get by. But hey, when you’re a good team, you can win these games even when you’re not firing on all cylinders–which was definitely the case in this one.
– WIN [3-0]
W&M 85 vs. Washington Adventist (D2) 60: The Green and Gold’s first home game came against the DII Washington Adventist Shock. And although the game was close considering it was against a DII team, W&M was in command the entire contest, winning by a 15 point margin after really pulling away in the second half. Omar Prewitt found himself leading the team for the second game in a row with 22 points. The Tribe got good production from the post position in this one, as Sean Sheldon finished with 14 points, as his backup Jack Whitman also finished with 6.
– LOSS [3-1]
W&M 66 @ Dayton 69: Going into this game, we knew that Dayton would be one of the best teams W&M would play the entire year. This is a team that has become an Atlantic-10 power, and one that has gone deep into the NCAA Tournament in recent years. But guess what? At half time, W&M led the Dayton Flyers 30-21. Impressively, the Tribe was able to shoot well enough on offense, as well as contain the Flyers on defense in the first half. Unfortunately, W&M’s defense couldn’t keep up with the Flyers in front of a raucous home-court advantage down the stretch, as the team was outscored 48-36 in the second half before narrowly losing by 3 points. Despite the loss, the team was scorching hot from 3-point land, connecting on 45.5% of 3-point shots. Naturally, Daniel Dixon led the way, as he went 9-16 overall, and an insane 6-10 from three (24 total points). This would have been a huge win for the Tribe, but the team again showed that it can hang with the big boys, and that the game vs. NC State was no fluke.
– WIN [4-1]
W&M 86 vs. Hampton 67: Facing yet another squad that made the NCAA Tournament last season, W&M handily defeated the Hampton Pirates at home. This game, somewhat like the contest vs. Washington Adventist, was never in doubt. Four out of five Tribe starters finished with double digit point totals, including the likes of Omar Prewitt (22 pts, and 10 rebounds), Daniel Dixon (22 pts), David Cohn (10 pts), and Terry Tarpey (13 pts, and a staggering SEVENTEEN rebounds). Another impressive win for the Tribe against a solid out-of-conference opponent.
– LOSS [4-2]
W&M 77 @ Howard 79: And then there was the game against Howard…In a somewhat unfathomable fashion, the Tribe dropped this contest to a lower-tiered Howard team. The Tribe was riding high going into this game, and even jumped out to a 45-26 half time lead. We thought that it was absolutely in the bag. However, the Tribe would falter down the stretch, especially defensively, with Howard’s James Daniel proved un-guardable, finishing with 39 points. The Green and Gold would have its worst half of hte season, giving up an insane 53 points, while only notching 32 of its own. This is the only glaring loss on the young season to date, which certainly served as a wake-up call for the Tribe.
– WIN [5-2]
W&M 55 vs. ODU 48: In an incredible defensive battle, W&M eeked out a win in the final minutes against cross-town rival Old Dominion. The Tribe, somewhat unbelievably, didn’t connect on a single 3 point shot, going 0-15 from beyond the arc. It took the Tribe until the very last minute to put the Monarchs away. Neither team shot the ball well; going into the game, we knew that ODU was a very good defensive team. Thankfully, the Tribe also played well defensively, and was up to the task. In the final two minutes of the game, both Omar Prewitt and Terry Tarpey came up with HUGE, clutch shots to put the Tribe ahead for good. Prewitt led the team with 18 points, while Tarpey came alive late, finishing with 7 points and 2 steals.
– LOSS [5-3]
W&M 52 @ #10 UVA 67: Simply put: the Tribe turned the ball over way too many times in this game. In total, the Green and Gold committed a staggering 19 turnovers. Yes, much of that can be chalked up to the famous UVA defense, but much of it can also be put back on the players–as head coach Tony Shaver expressed in his post game presser. Even though the Tribe would go on to lose by 15 points at #10 Virginia, W&M actually cut the game within 9 and 6 points late in the contest, and the team really had a shot. In the end, UVA would pull away, much like the Tribe did the game before against ODU–and it was all over from there. The Tribe’s scoring duo of Dixon (15 pts) and Prewitt (14 pts) again led the way, as Dixon looked especially impressive in the second half–cutting to the basket, hitting the three, and finding lanes to drive on. However, the Cavaliers proved to be too strong in the end.
We had to share the above graphic with you in order to give a sense of how strong this year’s CAA basketball league really is. As of December 4, the top four teams in the conference had a combined 21-5 record (only counting games against D1 opponents); the league as a whole held a winning record vs. the ACC (now 3-2 with W&M’s loss to UVA), an undefeated record against C-USA, and a tied record against a very powerful Atlantic-10 division.
Still not impressed? There are 10 total teams in the CAA; 9 out of 10 teams currently sport a record over .500. Yes, every single one except for the Drexel Dragons, who currently hold a 1-6 overall record. The only unbeaten school remaining is UNCW, for the time being–and W&M actually sits in third to last–despite its strong performance to date. But guess what? None of this matters. It’s not like the CAA will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in addition to its automatic bid for the CAA Tournament champion. Never say never, but it’s highly unlikely.
The out-of-conference portion of the schedule is for the Tribe to get prepared for in-conference play. That’s when the men are separated from the boys; it’s not until conference play that teams really start to figure out where they belong in the standings. As a reminder, the top-4 preseason CAA rankings were (1) Hofstra, (2) JMU, (3) Northeastern, (4) William & Mary. And guess what? All of these teams, and then some, are having very good years up to this point. It’s going to be an interesting season, and one would think that with Marcus Thornton‘s graduation, the Tribe would be out of the equation. Think again. The Tribe is alive and well, and ready to make waves with a great head coach, incredible depth, and a fire to qualify for the first NCAA Tournament in program history.
William & Mary will have to wait until December 18 (after W&M’s final exams) to play its next home game against D3 Mary Washington. This matchup will begin a 5-game home stand for the Tribe, who will next play both High Point and Central Michigan in Williamsburg to wrap up its out-of-conference schedule before CAA play begins the next week against the Towson Tigers.
This season is shaping up to be a great one for the Tribe in this year’s tough CAA. We think that with the depth the Tribe has this season, the team is ready to finally shock the world. But we’ve got some work to do first. See you in Kaplan. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!