The Vassar College men’s basketball team returned to its path of success with a close 85-82 win against Waynesburg University this weekend. After starting their season with a program-best 3-0 record, the Brewers faced a minor rut, losing against Maritime College and Elmira College. Looking to turn things around, the team was able to leave Rochester with a win and get back on a high note while preparing for Thursday’s big game against Williams College.
Defeating the Yellow Jackets of Waynesburg University was not easy task however, as the Brewers gained the lead were a mere 1:36 left in the game. As Waynesburg committed last minute fouls, junior captain Jesse Browne and freshman Mattie Mrlik were put on the line for foul shots. As Browne and Mrlik sunk two points each, the Brewers sealed their victory.
Browne was an influential member of the squad throughout the game, posting a team-high 26 points. Behind Browne, sophomore Mason Dyslin tallied 21 points while fellow sophomore Alex Seff added 11. Against Waynesburg, freshman Kyle Kappes had the game of his career as he totaled 10 points from three three-pointers and a foul shot.
In addition to individual performances, the Brewers’ win can be attributed to the improved shooting percentages of the whole squad. Vassar shot 48 percent from the floor and 41 percent from downtown. With this win, the team improved its record to 4-2.
Head Coach B.J. Dunne is happy with the way the team is shaping up this year. He noted, “I am very pleased with the way we have started. We are still working to find our identity but wins generate confidence.” Wins certainly generate confidence not only for individual players, but for the team as a whole. This confidence in the team is evident in the wide range of players that take the court each and every game.
With each grade comes differing levels of maturity and skill and Coach Dunne is incredibly pleased with the way some of the younger players have stepped up to help out the team. He mentioned, “We have played eight underclassmen in our rotation and I have been happy with their growing maturity.”
To help lead the newcomers, Coach Dunne appointed senior Mickey Adams as captain for the 2016-2017 season. Adams has been a key component for the men’s basketball team over his four years here at Vassar. An explosive player, Adams has shown strength on both ends of the court, finding himself among the team leaders in both scoring and rebounds, an impressive 33 and 22 respectively.
In terms of how the season has started off, Adams stated, “We’ve had moments of brilliance, but also a lot of moments where things haven’t looked quite so good. For us right now we just need to focus on those good moments and how we can build on them.”
As the only senior captain, Adams takes pride in the leadership role that he has and he takes his job as captain very seriously. Adams commented, “We have a lot of long days and it is a grind with such a massive commitment to both academics and basketball, but I’ve been working hard to make sure everyone is locked in each and every practice.” Adams continued, “We get two hours a day where nothing else matters besides basketball, and as one of the captains I think it’s important to make sure we maximize those two hours as a team.”
In addition to this hard work, sophomore Steve Palecki believes that the team’s resilience will lead to future success. Palecki noted that the squad has made an effort to improve upon what caused them trouble in their two losses against Maritime and Elmira College.
Palecki pointed out, “One thing that has plagued the team so far has been our free throw percentage but guys have been getting in the gym to work on that and it has shown. Against Waynesburg College, we went 24/30 from the free throw line.” This improvement proved crucial for the team as it came down to last minute foul shots to determine the outcome of the game against Waynesburg.
In regards to the team’s motivation and improvement, Palecki noted, “Our youth and energy has been helping drive the team. Our relentless effort has helped us get back into games and at the same time put teams away. The energy our team has is infectious and it is a great motivator.” Palecki hopes that the team can continue this high energy and intensity throughout the season to achieve even more success.
Looking forward, the team expresses excitement while also noting the importance of their upcoming games against Williams College and Wesleyan University. “It will be important for us to have two strong showings against these talented squads so we can continue to build on some of our early successes as the season progresses,” explained Adams.
The Williams and Wesleyan men’s basketball teams both participate in the New England and Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), a historically competitive conference. Therefore, the team looks to bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to the court against these tough competitors. Leading up to these contests, the Brewers will also work on their weaknesses.
After facing their NESCAC opponents, the Brewers will head into Liberty League play on Dec. 30. Although conference games are a few weeks away, Palecki explained, “To prepare for our first league games against Skidmore and Union, our team will continue to sharpen the offense and defense sets we run. The better we execute the different offense sets we have, the better shots we can get, and thus giving us more scoring opportunities. Again, we will also continue to work on free throws as they have been a problem through the non-conference games so far.”
The team shares Palecki’s sentiments and looks to continue improvement while developing as a unit in non-conference play over the next few weeks to prepare for league competition.
The Vassar men’s basketball team will look to defeat the Ephs of Williams College on Thursday, Dec. 1.