The men’s basketball team opened its season by winning the Regis Tip-Off Tournament this past weekend. In its opening-round match the Polar Bears defeated Western Connecticut State University by a final score of 80-55 before beating Regis 74-61 in the championship game.
In the first game, Grant White ’14 led Bowdoin with a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds. Five other players had at least nine points. After leading by 10 at halftime, Bowdoin outscored the Colonials by 15 in the second half.
In the tournament’s championship game, Bowdoin defeated Regis 74-61. An opening 3-pointer by Regis was the only lead the Pride had in the game. Despite trading baskets for much of the first half, the Polar Bears entered halftime with a six-point lead. After sitting out much of the first half due to foul trouble, John Swords ’15 led the charge in the second half, leading the Polar Bears 13-5 run to end the game.
Swords was named the All-Tournament MVP after dominating the boards in both contests, and he and Keegan Pieri ’15 were both named to the All-Tournament team.
Size and physicality were the biggest differences between Bowdoin and its opponents. Swords and Pieri stand at seven feet and six-feet-six-inches, respectively.
“Looking at the scouting report against Western Connecticut and Regis, we saw that we had a clear advantage inside with height with John Swords and Keegan,” said captain Andrew Madlinger ’14. “We were definitely emphasizing getting the ball inside, then moving a lot within our offense off the ball to help our shooters get open shots.”
Being able to rely on Swords’ inside game helped the team start off the season well in the midst of changing its offensive strategy.
“We have two fewer weeks of practice than the teams we just played against,” said Head Coach Tim Gilbride. “So you feel like you’re not quite as prepared as you’d like to be.”
“We lost Bryan Hurley [’15], our starting point guard from last year,” to an ACL injury, said Pieri. “Last year our offense was more point guard-oriented. Everything went through him. This year it’s more about getting everyone involved. There’s a lot of movement, quick passes and just a lot of cuts looking to get the ball inside and hit shooters beyond the arc.”
But the biggest difference the team will have to adjust to is that referees will now be quicker to call the hand-check in college basketball. Meant to promote more fan interest by allowing for higher scoring games after last season—which featured record low final scores for the shot-clock era—change has attracted criticism: fouls that may not have been called before will now slow games down.
“Its kind of weird,” said Madlinger of the new rule. “It’s really up to the refs and how closely they want to watch it. But it’s definitely something you need to adjust to when defending in the post and on the wing.”
“It’s changing the game for sure,” said Gilbride. “I think that it will force players and coaches to adjust. It’ll be interesting. Will teams start to play more zones so you don’t get into foul trouble all over the place or will people try and penetrate more to draw fouls? I don’t like it now. Will I like it eventually? Maybe if they get consistent with it.”
But, with the size the team possesses, the new rule could potentially help the Polar Bears.
“With our size, getting the ball inside and having the freedom to move around down there without getting pushed around will definitely help our post game as well as when we’re driving to the hoop,” said Pieri.
Bowdoin looks to avenge last season’s loss against St. Joseph’s tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Morrell Gym. The team will have to find a way to close defensively against the sharpshooting Monks, whose win against the Polar Bears last year was due mainly to their proficiency from 3-point range.