Men's Basketball Notes - Week 6

Week 5

Washington and Lee Men's Basketball (8-2, 1-1 ODAC)

Jan. 6 vs. Eastern Mennonite (9-1, 3-0)); 7:00 pm
Jan. 9 vs. Virginia Wesleyan (10-1, 2-1); 2:00 pm

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Last time out • W&L 76, Emory 65 (1/3/10)
Washington and Lee connected on a season-high 11 three-pointers and junior guard Jason Cimino led three Generals in double figures with a career-high 17 points as W&L defeated Emory, 76-65, in the championship game of the Washington and Lee Tournament on Sunday evening at the Warner Center. Cimino was a perfect 4-4 from beyond arc in notching a new personal best and, as a team the Generals hit on 11-22 tries from distance. W&L’s previous season-high in three’s made was six back on Dec. 2. Trailing 13-10 at the 12:41 mark of the first half, a dunk from first-year forward J.D. Ey triggered a 17-2 run that gave the Generals a 27-15 lead with 7:21 left in the opening period. However, the Eagles went on a 17-2 run of their own that gave them a 32-29 lead with 1:23 remaining. Cimino pulled W&L to within two points (32-30) when he split a pair of free throws with 55 seconds left and his three-pointer with two seconds remaining gave the Generals a 33-32 edge at the break. Emory took a 41-40 lead at the 13:42 mark of the second half on a jumper by senior forward Anthony Fernandez, but on the ensuing possession, W&L first-year guard Doug Poetzsch hit his third three-pointer of the game to put W&L back on top at 43-41 and the Generals did not trail the rest of the game as they pulled away for the win. Cimino shot 5-6 from the field and 3-4 from the line while adding five assists and was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts. Senior forward Zac White joined him on the all-tournament team and was named the tournament’s MVP. White followed up Saturday’s double-double with 14 points to go with three rebounds and three blocked shots. Ey added 11 points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Ben Goetsch pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds to go with seven points.

Scouting Eastern Mennonite
Eastern Mennonite and W&L are meeting for the 76th time, with the Generals holding a 49-26 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams split a pair of contests last season, with each team winning on the other’s home court. The Royals are currently 10-1 overall, 1-0 in the conference, and have been receiving votes in the Top 25 poll for much of the season. In EMU’s last game, the Royals defeated Hampden-Sydney, 88-71, as five Royals scored in double figures led by junior forward Eli Crawford’s 21 points. Junior wing Todd Phillips added 19 points, junior guard George Johnson tossed in 15 points, senior guard Austin Twine added 14 points and junior wing D.J. Hinson chipped in 10 markers. The Royals, who are the league’s highest scoring team at 89.2 points per game, are led by Phillips and his 19.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Johnson is averaging 14.9 points per game, Crawford is contributing 13.4 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game and Hinson is chipping in 13.1 points and a team-high 3.0 assists on a nightly basis.

Last time against Eastern Mennonite •  Eastern Mennonite 85, W&L 73 • 2/21/09
The Washington and Lee men’s basketball team fell to Eastern Mennonite, 85-73, in its regular-season finale at the Warner Center. The Royals forced W&L into 24 turnovers on the day, including 16 in the first half, as they built a nine-point advantage (43-34) at the break. EMU had four players score in double figures and it shot 55.4 percent (31-56) from the floor, including 53.8 percent from beyond the arc in posting the 12-point win. W&L jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the 16:28 mark of the first half, but the Royals responded with a 21-4 run to take a 23-14 lead at the 8:44 mark. Senior forward Ben Heller hit a jumper on W&L’s next possession to pull the Generals within seven points (23-16), but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the game. Forward Ben Goetsch led the Generals with 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting night. Senior guard Craig Sauers added a career-high 10 points, while senior forward Kirk Jones chipped in nine points and a team-high six rebounds. Guard D.J. Hinson led the Royals with a game-high 18 points and six rebounds. Senior guard LeRoger Parrish added 13 points, forwards Devon McRae and Orie Pancione chipped in 12 points apiece, and guard George Johnson tallied 11 markers.

Scouting Virginia Wesleyan
Washington and Lee and Virginia Wesleyan are squaring off for the 46th time, with the Marlins holding a 35-10 advantage in the all-time series. W&L has not defeated VWC since a 57-55 victory in Virginia Beach on Dec. 2, 2001 - a span of 16 games. VWC, took a pair of contests last season from the Generals last season, including a thrilling 66-62 decision in the ODAC championship game last season. The Marlins are ranked No. 18 in the most recent poll and enter the week with a 10-1 overall record and a 2-1 ledger in league play. Most recently, the Marlins rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half to post a 77-73 win over Bridgewater. Senior guard Stephen Fields led the way with a career-high 28 points, including 15 in the final 7:29 of the game. Sophomore forward Donald Vaughn added 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in the victory. On the season, the Marlins are led by Fields, who is the league’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game. Vaughn is averaging 17.0 points per game, good for 10th in the league, as well as 9.0 rebounds per game. Fields is also chipping in 3.7 assists per game, which is the third-best mark in the ODAC.

Last time against Virginia wesleyan • Va. Wes. 66, W&L 62 • 3/1/09
Washington and Lee battled back from a 16-point first half deficit to pull within one point in the final minute, but could not take the lead as Virginia Wesleyan pulled out a 66-62 victory in the championship game of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament at the Salem Civic Center. The Generals trailed by 13 points (40-27) halftime, but began the second stanza with a 15-6 run to make it a 46-42 game with 12:14 remaining. The Marlins (17-12) pulled back out to a 51-42 lead with 10:04 left, but W&L closed it to a one-point game (53-52) with 7:09 remaining. The Generals remained within striking distance the rest of the way, cutting it to a one-point game twice in the final minute (61-60 at 0:30 and 63-62 at 0:21), but W&L shot just 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 1:40. The Generals had one last shot to tie the game with three seconds remaining, but forward Ben Goetsch’s layup would not fall and the Marlins held on for the victory. For the game, W&L shot just 16-of-29 (.552) from the free throw line, but the Generals held a 37-31 edge on the boards and committed just 12 turnovers. Virginia Wesleyan shot 52.9 percent (27-51) from the field, including 56.7 percent (17-30) in the first half. Washington and Lee was led by Goetsch, who tied a then-career-high with 19 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior guard Isaiah Goodman tallied 11 points, while senior forward Ben Heller totaled eight points and tied a career-high with 12 rebounds. Guard Stephen Fields led the Marlins with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. He also dished out five assists and forward Quantrell Simmons added 14 points.
W&L is 38-6 in its last 44 games when leading at the break and has compiled a 72-28 (.714) record over the past 11 years when it leads at the break. W&L has won a total of 95 games during that stretch, meaning that the Generals have led at halftime in just over 75 percent of their wins during the last 11 years.

Leading the way
With a career scoring average of 5.8 points per game entering the season, it may be a bit strange to see senior forward Ben Goetsch among the ODAC leaders in scoring with a robust 17.6 points per game average. However, it seems as though it may just be a matter of opportunity. Goetsch is a career 49.1 percent shooter from the floor and is averaging a shade over 13 shot attempts per game this season. As a junior, Goestch took an average of 8.1 shots per game en route to posting a 9.7 ppg average. He took just 2.5 shot attempts per contest over his first two seasons combined.

Hit on 20
Entering this season, senior forward Ben Goetsch had never recorded a 20-point game, with 19 being his career high. However, Goetsch has already posted games of 29 points, 27 points, 23 points, 21 points and 20 points this season and W&L has already had an individual reach at least 20 points on seven different occasions, eclipsing the six 20-point games from a season ago.

Home cooking
It should come as no surprise that W&L has posted a 3-0 record coming out of the holiday break. All three of Washington and Lee’s games were home games against non-conference foes. Including a 5-0 mark this season, W&L has posted a 17-2 record in such games since 2006. W&L went 5-1 in non-conference home games last season, 3-0 in 2007-08 and 4-1 in 2006-07. It’s unfortunate that the Generals will not be able to add to that mark as they have just one remaining non-conference game, a road date with Methodist on Jan. 13.

Sluggish starts
W&L has been prone to getting off to slow starts this season as evidenced by its 19-point first half against Bridgewater and a 20-point first period against Case Western. On the season, the Generals average just 28.1 points per game in the first half, but they outscore their opponent by an average of 37.7-33.3 in the second half.

Cold as ice
As a team, W&L is hitting on 69.7 percent (62-89) of its free-throws taken in “crunch time”, compared to just 59.6 percent (84-141) of its attempts in the first 35 minutes of the game. Senior forward Ben Goetsch has shown the greatest improvement in the last five minutes. He is connecting on 65.2 percent (15-23) of his charity tosses in the final five minutes, but just 47.4 percent (18-38) of his tries in the first 35 minutes.

Cold as ice II
If W&L has had a tough time connecting on free throws in the first 35 minutes of games, the Generals have had an even more difficult time hitting their three-point attempts at any point in the game. W&L is hitting just 27.0 percent (44-163) of its attempts from distance and has made at least five triples in just three  games thus far. Last season, W&L connected on 34.2 percent (156-456) of its three-point tries and averaged 5.4 three pointers made per game.

Quantity not Quality
Despite the aformentioned difficulty of hitting free throws, W&L has made up for it in the sheer number of charity tosses it has had in relation to its opponents. The Generals have attempted 230 free throws as a team and have made 146 of their attempts which is more than their opponents have even attempted (135). This disparity was on full display in the Generals’ recent win over Ferrum in which W&L was 17-22 from the charity strip while the Panthers attempted just nine free throws, connecting on six of them.

Crash the boards
On the season, the Generals are sporting a rebounding average of 36.8 rpg, while allowing just 33.7 rpg to their opponents. Over the last three games however, the Generals have been even more dominant averaging 33.3 rebounds while only allowing their opponents 25.0 boards per game. Additionally, W&L is averaging 14.0 offensive rebounds per game over the last three contests, compared to just 7.0 offensive boards for its opponents. Senior forward Ben Goetsch leads the ODAC with 4.0 offensive rebounds per game and he is second in the league with 10.0 rebounds per game. He recently pulled down 18 rebounds in a 76-65 win over Emory, the highest total by a W&L player since Brian Ricketts grabbed 21 boards against Lynchburg in 2000.

Something’s gotta give
Washington and Lee is currently the stingiest defense in the ODAC, allowing an average of just 65.8 points per game. This week, the Generals take on the two of the highest scoring teams in the league in Eastern Mennonite (89.1 ppg., 1st) and Virginia Wesleyan (77.3 ppg., 5th). The Marlins’ senior guard Stephen Fields is the league’s most prolific scorer at 20.5 points per game and EMU junior wing Todd Phillips is fourth in the ODAC with an average of 19.0 points per game. The Royals also lead the league in three pointers made with 85 (8.5 per game) and steals (114, 11.4 per game).

Happy Holidays Indeed
Often the Holiday Break is a chance for players to get home to see their families and recharge their batteries  so to speak and it seems that several of W&L’s upperclassmen charged their batteries with a little something extra. Senior forwards Zac White and Ben Goetsch and junior guard Jason Cimino have posted three outstanding games apiece since returning to campus. Cimino is averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 assists on 8-15 shooting from the floor (including 5-9 from deep) and 13-14 shooting from the line. White has averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He also tallied his first career double-double (16 pts., 10 reb.) against Swarthmore. Goetsch has averaged 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds, including a career-high 18 rebounds against Emory.

Rank and file
With the Generals hosting EMU and VWC this week, W&L has an opportunity to extend its modest two-game winning streak against ranked opponents. W&L is 2-0 in its last two games against teams ranked in the Top 25, having knocked off Roanoke (No. 18) and Guilford (No. 19) last season. The Marlins enter the week ranked 18th in the latest Top 25 poll and EMU has been receiving votes all season and may crack the Top 25 when the poll is released later this week.