Our preseason Bowdoin preview and some updated thoughts:
Feb. 1: BOWDOIN (5-5, 17-8)
Details: Friday, 6:00 pm (at Bowdoin)
Last year: Middlebury 79-76
Outside of Middlebury’s Ryan Sharry and Joey Kizel, Bowdoin had the best scoring duo in the conference in Will Hanley (18.4 ppg) and Ryan O’Connell (14.2 ppg). Unfortunately for the Polar Bears, both have graduated, and there seems to be a lack of talent behind them. Junior guard Andrew Madinger (9.7 ppg), sophomore guard Bryan Hurley (6.5 ppg) and 7’0” sophomore center John Swords (3.9 ppg, 0.9 bpg) look to be a year away from bringing this team back to relevance. Their season is likely to be a disappointment and a visit from the Panthers will make it even worse.
February 1 Addendum: Bowdoin has rebounded from the loss of their two best players far more impressively than we predicted at the beginning of the season, standing at 3-3 in conference and 12-6 overall. Led by a backcourt of the 5’10″ Hurley (10.1 ppg, 8.1 apg, 39/39/70 shooting), the 6’3″ Madlinger (14.8 ppg, 45/41/85 shooting), and 6’1″ junior Mat Mathias (8.1 ppg, 46/42/67 shooting), the Polar Bears are third in the conference in field goal percentage and second in field goal percentage allowed. They have replaced Hanley with an effective trio of forwards in 6’6″ Keegan Pieri (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 50/40/86 shooting), 6’10″ Max Staiger (7.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg 50% FG), and the 7’0″ Swords (5.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg 60% FG). Thus, Bowdoin presents a unique challenge defensively because of Hurley’s ball-distribution and the multitude of weapons with which he is surrounded. We expect James Jensen, who has made his mark of late, to get big minutes against Pieri, while Nolan Thompson will be called upon to shut down either Hurley or Madlinger. Those two Panthers have been central in the team’s overall recent defensive surge; over the last five games, Middlebury has held opponents to an average of 28 points per game under their respective season averages. On offense, the key will be executing early, as Middlebury might not be able to afford a slow start against a solid Bowdoin team that is 7-1 at home.
Injury watch: In addition to the already-sidelined Dean Brierly, Nate Bulluck, and Dylan Sinnickson, both Joey Kizel and Peter Lynch injured their ankles vs. Keene State on Tuesday. Lynch returned to the game, while Kizel did not. As of a few hours before game time, we heard that it is likely Kizel plays, while Lynch’s status is still up in the air. Last season, Kizel had 26 points on 8-13 shooting vs. the Polar Bears.