On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break, the men’s basketball team blew a second half lead to the University of New England, a team they have not lost to in the last decade, but rebounded by beating No. 10 Babson on Sunday. Two days later, the Polar Bears took down the University of Southern Maine on the road to bring their record to 3-2.

After graduating starting point guard Bryan Hurley ’15 and seven-foot center John Swords ’15, the team is looking for players to step up in both the backcourt and frontcourt. With the loss of Swords in the middle, Head Coach Tim Gilbride has made the tactical decision to try to get out on the break more and get the ball in the hands of talented scorer and preseason First Team All-American Lucas Hausman ’16 as much as possible. The strategy seems to be working for Hausman; he is averaging 29.4 points per game (PPG) through five games and has scored over a third of the team’s points. However, Gilbride notes that simply delivering the ball to Hausman and hoping that he accounts for all of the team’s offense is not a sustainable strategy.

“What we’ve figured out is we can’t just let [Hausman] take the ball and try to score and take over on his own,” said Gilbride. “We need to do that by moving the ball and controlling the flow of the game.”

Luckily for the Polar Bears, many of their first year players have stepped in and contributed immediately. Jack Simonds ’19 is the team’s second leading scorer with 16.8 PPG. In addition, point guard Tim Ahn ’19 and forward Hugh O’Neil ’19 have each averaged over 15 minutes per game played, indicating that they’ll likely be important components of Gilbride’s rotation for the entire season.

The team’s youth may have contributed to its inconsistent results thus far; the Polar Bears are still learning to play together, and the five first years on the team are still picking up the system. However, they may be getting through early growing pains. After beating Babson 88-84 in overtime on November 29, Bowdoin went on the road and delivered a convincing 81-55 victory at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday.

“I think now we’ve started to play really well as a team, and I think that’s going to keep on going,” said Simonds.

The Polar Bears clearly are on the same page in terms of their goals this year. Both Hausman and Simonds have the same ambitious goal: to host and win a NESCAC tournament game, finish in the top half of the NESCAC and hopefully make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Bowdoin has already proven that it can play with anyone in the country, but the team will have to keep up that level of concentration in all of its NESCAC games. According to Hausman, the conference looks to have a startling degree of parity this year.

“Everyone can really play. There are no pushovers in the NESCAC this year,” Hausman said. “Conn. College and Hamilton were traditionally at the bottom of the league, but they got better this year and have some good freshmen. I think we have the capability to beat anybody, but if we don’t come ready to play, we have the capability to lose to most teams, too.”

Bowdoin’s biggest task seems to be becoming more consistent. Simonds, Gilbride and Hausman all noted that Babson’s high national ranking helped the team focus, but against UNE, a team they should have beaten handily, they let the game slip away.

Bowdoin’s captains, Hausman, Matt Palecki ’16 and Jake Donnelly ’16, are the last significant contributors left from a squad that made the NCAA tournament just two seasons ago. This is clearly a team in transition, and it remains to be seen if they will be able to blend strong senior leadership with a talented but unproven first year class. If they can, though, the Polar Bears will undoubtedly be a team to be feared this season.