The men’s basketball team will open its 2012-2013 season with a matchup against Clark University on Friday in the first of two games in the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Tournament.
Coming off a 17-8 season and a fifth-place finish in the NESCAC, the Polar Bears could have a tough time replacing graduates Will Hanley and Ryan O’Connell, last season’s leading scorers.
“Last year we ran a lot of stuff through Will,” said Head Coach Tim Gilbride, now in his 28th season as Bowdoin’s head coach. “He had different sets to get him the ball, and then we worked things off of that. This year we’re going to run our stuff and see what gets us the best opportunity against different teams.”
The team has only had two weeks of practice to prepare for the season. They have spent much of their time in the gym working on their man-to-man defense, hoping that it will catalyze into an effective transition offense that can capitalize on rebounds and takeaways to garner scoring opportunities.
“We’re going to be a team that works extremely hard on the defensive end and tries to get a lot of fast break opportunities from that,” said captain Max Staiger ’13. “While we could easily settle into a half-court offense, I think we’d much rather play an up-tempo, up and down type of game.”
When they are in offensive sets, the Polar Bears will use a newly-instituted motion offense to try and utilize their strengths.
“We’re more focused on getting the ball inside. We’re going to be a lot bigger than most of the teams we play,” said captain Nick Lenker ’13. “Our new style of offense is going to open up a lot of opportunities for different people to be scoring. Once the games come, then we’ll be able to see who steps up.”
Lenker and Staiger will be joined inside by John Swords ’15, while outside shooters Andrew Madlinger ’14 and Matt Mathias ’14 will look to take advantage of collapsing defenses. Slasher Keegan Pieri ’15, Hanley’s backup last year, will also act as a key contributor. Bryan Hurley ’15 will orchestrate the offense.
“[Hurley] will definitely be the floor general,” said Gilbride. “I’ll be counting on him to make sure that we are executing well and getting the ball to people we want to get it to at particular times. He’s pretty good at that and got a lot of experience last year, so he should take another step.”
While teams such as Wesleyan and Amherst are early favorites this year, the NESCAC is known for upsets every season.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this league and you probably won’t know until February what the standings will be like at the end of the season,” said Staiger.