Skip to content

Bowdoin Preview

Middlebury and Bowdoin face off today in a matchup that will be significant in determining how the NESCAC standings shake out. Contributor Adam Lamont, a sophomore at Bowdoin previews the matchup.

Today’s tilt between Bowdoin and Middlebury is the first of three difficult road games the Polar Bears have to finish out the season. Bowdoin has a tendency to play close games so while they pushed Amherst and Williams to the wire, they also trailed Plymouth State and UMaine Farmington deep in the second half. Middlebury has shown the same habit often with devastating results so expect a very tight game Sunday afternoon. The key matchups will be how well Bowdoin gets the ball inside to John Swords and Middlebury’s ability to hit outside shots.

Last year Swords played his best game against Middlebury posting 13 points, 9 rebounds and three blocks. This year that would be a very ho-hum game for him as he has been a game-changing force in the middle all year. Amherst and Trinity both did a very good job against him last week making sure he caught the ball far enough away from the hoop that he had to put the ball on the floor to make a move. If he catches it close to the basket he has a great spin move either way and can use both hands to finish making that virtually unguardable. Often Swords catches the ball holds the ball for a couple of seconds to see whether the defense is going to double him. He is quick to pass out of a double team so if players feint towards him before getting back to their man they can neutralize him to some degree. For Bowdoin the key is getting him the ball in as many different ways as possible. Most of the time right now he gets the ball on entry passes from the perimeter. Bowdoin is starting to employ a baseline out of bounds play that amounts to throwing the pass high so Swords can go up and get it, gather himself, and finish. It would be great to see Bowdoin get more penetration and look to dish it to Swords inside. Even if Swords isn’t able to finish alley-oops, he should be able to gather the passes and finish. He needs to be getting 10 shots a game, something he hasn’t done since January 25th against Colby.

Amherst switched a lot on defense creating a lot of mismatches that Bowdoin looked to exploit. A lot of these possessions ended in post-ups for either Grant White or Keegan Pieri. They didn’t take bad shots, but Amherst kept switching because those post-ups made the Bowdoin offense stagnant. Bowdoin should take advantage at times of a size advantage, but shouldn’t get sucked into a predictable offense that ends in a lot of midrange shots. Like any offense without a great perimeter shot-creator, Bowdoin needs to get the ball inside as much while also moving the defense side to side. Shooting Guard Andrew Madlinger has been lights out shooting the ball all season and can make it with a defender in his face. Madlinger’s play and the return of Bryan Hurley have squeezed the playing time of Lucas Hausman a bit. He only played nine minutes against Amherst, recording zero points, but he remains the first man off the bench. He has to attack the basket even more than he is now (83.8 percent from the free throw line) and at this point should probably not be taking any threes (24.4 percent). He played better on Tuesday against Plymouth State and his creativity is an important asset for Bowdoin especially if Swords is not in the game to attract attention.

The first 10 minutes of the Amherst game made the Bowdoin defense (both man and zone) look atrocious. The ball movement was amazing with Aaron Toomey orchestrating his teammates. The perimeter defenders were always a step too late leading to blow-by drives because of bad closeouts. The defense tightened up as the game went on, but Aaron Toomey was huge down the stretch for Amherst. Dylan Sinnickson will need to have a big game for Middlebury. Duncan Robinson and Connor Green shot and made a lot of threes against the Bowdoin zone. Sinnickson is the same type of player for Middlebury so it’s crucial that Bowdoin make sure he doesn’t get open looks. Swords’ interior defense keeps getting better. Amherst was content to shoot from outside launching 37 threes making up 61.6% of their shots from the floor. The unfortunate loss of Matt St. Amour will hurt Middlebury in this aspect though they still have capable shooters. Coach Tim Gilbride is very careful about keeping Swords from fouling out and Swords often sits for long stretches in the first half. This affects him more on offense than defense because he takes some time to get into a rhythm. The best perimeter defender for Bowdoin is Grant White and he will draw Sinnickson if Bowdoin goes man to man. That man-to-man would leave most likely Mathias on Kizel, who scored a career-high 30 points on Friday night and has scored 22 or more in each of his last three games. Mathias isn’t a great athlete, but he doesn’t get beat and played Toomey very close even though Toomey still managed to hit some contested threes. The most even matchup is the power forwards where both Merryman and Pieri play crucial, albeit secondary, offensive roles. If one of those two is able to assert themselves, that would be huge whether it’s Merryman draining threes or Pieri knocking down midrange jumpers.

Bowdoin has announced that they have the ability to win the NESCAC tournament, but barring any upsets, they will have to take down Williams and Amherst in back to back games. This matchup would have been much more intriguing if Bowdoin and Middlebury had been able to finish off Amherst and Williams respectively last weekend. Still if anyone outside of the top two is going to make a run in the conference tournament, it’s Bowdoin or Middlebury. The winner will have the inside track on the number 3 seed, which doesn’t mean too much given the parity in the bottom half of the league. This should be a good benchmark game for Bowdoin that will be facing a Middlebury team that needs every win they can get.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.