As the men’s basketball season has only just begun with the Robert Williams Tipoff Tournament on November 15 and 16, the team has started off solidly, winning one game while dropping another during their opening matches of the season. In its match vs. Clark University, the Brewers lost 62-65. The next day versus Roger Williams University, the team pulled off a win 81-71. Looking to improve on last year’s record of seven wins to 18 losses, the men’s team has very specific goals for this season, with the ultimate being a Liberty League championship.
Although the team has just started playing matches, their off-season practice time has been just as rigorous as on-season play, according to teammates. Senior co-captain Evan Carberry explained the off season regimen that all players have to complete for their preseason. “While at school we lift with the strength coach, Cam Williams, three or four times a week,” explained Carberry. “We also attend an early morning conditioning class and play pickup as a group about four times a week. Outside of that, we each work on our skills in small groups.”
The off-season practice has paid off in dividends, as head coach Brian Dunne described. “There is more energy and enthusiasm surrounding our team,” Dunne wrote in an emailed statement. “Our guys are playing with confidence and believing that every time we put on a uniform we will be in a situation to win. We are playing faster and doing a great job of dictating the tempo and pace of the game.”
He continued, “Our team physicality is greater and we have established a smash mouth man-to-man defensive system that has made it difficult for our opponents to get high percentage shots off. I am incredibly proud of the work and effort of our men this past month and excited for the direction of our program. We are optimistic about what we can accomplish in League Play.”
Coach Dunne is joined on the coaching staff by newly appointed Assistant Coach Seth Eisner. Dunne is the new Head Coach for the men’s team, as spending the 2012-13 season as the top Assistant Coach at Vassar College. Before his time at Vassar, Dunne spent a year as the men’s basketball top Assistant Coach at Emerson College in Boston, MA under Jim O’Brien, the former Head Coach at Ohio State University and the National Co-Coach of the Year in 1999. During the 2011-12 season, Dunne was responsible for on-court coaching, recruiting, scouting, film exchange and game management. He helped Emerson qualify for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. This is Eisner’s first season as a Assistant Coach for Vassar College. Eisner comes to Vassar College after a successful stop as an assistant at State University of New York Oswego. At SUNY Oswego, Eisner served as the program’s recruiting and academic coordinator, while also handling administrative duties, scouting, game preparation, video exchange and on-court instruction.
The team this year also has an influx of new freshman. Junior co-captain Alex Snyder expressed his happiness with his new teammates. “I feel the freshman this year have a chance to come in and help us out during the season,” Snyder expressed in an emailed statement. “They are a group of hardworking guys, and they get along extremely well with all of the guys on the team.” Carberry echoed his teammate’s sentiment. “We have three new freshman this year and they are a great group of guys,” Carberry expressed. “They really fit in well with the rest of us and it seems like they have been a part of the team forever.”
This enthusiasm and increase in play has been proven by a win this past weekend against Roger Williams University 81-71. Although the team was down 34-45 at halftime, junior forward Alex Snyder began a 15 point run for the Brewers with a layup at 18:54. This brought the Brewers to a one point deficit. Eight of the 15 points came from sophomore Johnny Mrlik, who was recently named to the Rookie of the Week Honor Roll. This streak helped contribute to Mrlik’s 28 point total for the game, along with 10 rebounds. On the match against Roger Williams, Dunne stated, “we were down 15 points with 18 minutes to go and we dug in and only allowed 23 points the rest of the game and went on to win by 10 points. Our guys showed some heart and played with a passion that I have not seen from them. It was great for our confidence and to continue to believe that we are a very good team.”
Dunne has also noticed Mrlik’s strong performance. “Johnny Mrlik has been terrific, he is averaging 21 points through two games and was named to the Liberty League Honor Roll. He is an offensive threat every time he touches the ball,” Dunne elaborated.
He also talked about other key players, including co-captain Snyder. “Alex Snyder has been tough on the low block and is difficult to guard when he has the ball. He also dominated the glass this past weekend. [Sophomore] Erikson Wasyl did a great job of running the point for us and keeping our team composed throughout both games. He is a knock down three point shooter and has developed moves to go by with the bounce. [Junior] Luka Ladan and [Senior] John Donnelly provided us great energy off the bench and both have been super efficient in the early going.”
The team has already made concrete goals for the season. Coach Dunne himself expects a lot from this new team of talented athletes. “I expect us to continue to get better and surprise a lot of people along the way,” Dunne stated in an emailed statement. “We are going to continue to embrace the journey and play and win together. We have set high expectations for ourselves because we trust and believe in our system and the culture we are building. We are confident we will be around when it matters most and that is in February.”