Basketball looks to rebound from injury ridden season

From left to right: Seniors Jonathan Safir, Andrew Adkins, Alex Snyder, Luka Ladan and Curtis Smith. The Brewers finish up their season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this Friday. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics
From left to right: Seniors Jonathan Safir, Andrew Adkins, Alex Snyder, Luka Ladan and Curtis Smith. The Brewers finish up their season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this Friday. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics
From left to right: Seniors Jonathan Safir, Andrew Adkins, Alex Snyder, Luka Ladan and Curtis Smith. The Brewers finish up their season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this Friday. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics

The Vassar Men’s basketball squad has been a little beat up this season. Their record currently is resting at 7-16 overall and 3-11 in conference play. This weekend the Brewers battled with Hobart College and Rochester Institute of Technology. Ultimately, they fell 67-69 to the tigers of RPI but clawed their way ahead of Hobart, winning 65-63. This type of play was not expected in the 2015 season, as the Brewers were picked by the preseason coaches’ poll to win the Liberty League. Skidmore and Clarkson were respectively just below Vassar, but have pulled ahead in actual season play with records of 15-7 and 18-5.

One reason that VC men’s basketball has struggled is rampant injury. “So far this season, we have underachieved. We came in with very high expectations competing in the liberty league, but we have been plagued with injuries all season which has been difficult to overcome,” said junior captain and guard from Durham, Conn., Erikson Wasyl.

This was apparent in the Brewer’s senior day match up when both Luka Laden and Andrew Adkins had to sit their big game due to injury. Senior captain and forward from Rutland, Va., Alexander Snyder agreed, chiming in, “Our season has been disappointing. We have a lot of talent and due to injuries we were never able to really get into a groove.”

While the team has not achieved all of their goals concerning season outcome, there have been good moments for the men. “My teammates do a very good job of getting me open by setting a lot of screens, which makes it easier for me personally to score and make plays on offense,” said Wasyl. “We unfortunately have [not had] too much success,” agreed Snyder, “but most of our success comes from sharing the ball and working together as a unit.” Snyder has had an outstanding career with the Brewers, and reached an important landmark on February 14 playing Hobart at home in the Athletic and Fitness center. With a foul shot, Snyder reached his 1,000th career point. In Vassar’s history, Snyder is only the 13th to hit 1,000 points scored in a career. And with 1,002 points currently, Snyder is the 12th highest scoring player in all-time Brewer history.

The coaching staff participated in Coaches vs. Cancer Awareness Week, organized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society, replacing their dress shoes with sneakers for a game.

Another high point in the men’s season was an exciting victory against Union College on their home turf on January 31. The Brewers were down an entire seven points at half time but came back to win 69-67. With 29 seconds left to go in the game, freshman guard, Jesse Browne putting up the winning two points. “My favorite part of the season so far was beating Union at home a few weeks ago,” said Wasyl, “We had a raucous crowd, so it was a very fun environment to play in.” This huge success coincided with alumni weekend for Vassar men’s basketball, adding some more excitement to the feat. “Alumni Weekend is always a good time. We get to see all of the guys who graduated during our time here, and we were able to get a win in front of the awesome home crowd,” said Snyder.

There are only a couple weeks left in the 2015 season for VC men’s basketball. The men will face off with Bard College on February 18th in Annandale-on-the-Hudson, N.Y. Then the Brewers will finish their season on the 20th against Renesslaer Polytechnic Institute at home for one last game.

“I guess I would say that playing together and enjoying our limited time left on the court is how we will have to play in order to get a win,” said Snyder about finishing 2015 strong. “I am most looking forward to closing out the season strong and with pride,” said Wasyl, “We are out of playoff contention for this year, but we have a lot of freshmen who are gaining valuable experience adjusting to playing basketball at the collegiate level.” This experience will be helpful for the very young team.

The class of 2018 has made big contributions so far this season, freshmen Jesse Brown (guard from Barrington, RI), Tony Calletti (guard from Mill Valley, Calif.), John Madsen (forward and center from Needham, Mass.), Fabien Bessez (guard from New York, NY), Jonah Sens (forward from Arlington, Va.), and Spencer Einhorn (forward from Birmingham, Ala.) all have seen playing time and put up big numbers for VC. Caletti was named ECAC Division III Upstate Rookie of the Week for his career-best performance against Hamilton College in December.

While the Brewers did not reach the goals set back at the start of the season, the team agrees that 2016 will be better. Rehabilitation from injury and experience will do wonders for VC men’s basketball moving forward.

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