Men's Basketball To Host NCAA Tournament Game - Sold Out

March 5, 2011

The Middlebury men's basketball team will host an NCAA Tournament second-round game on Saturday, March 5th at 7:00 p.m. The Panthers received a first-round bye and will take on Western Connecticut (22-5), an 89-67 winner over Salve Regina in a first-round game played on Thursday. Tickets for the game are sold out.

Middlebury is making its fourth consecutive trip to the tournament, earning an automatic bid after capturing its second NESCAC Championship in the past three years. The Panthers also won the NESCAC crown in ’09, earning at-large bids to the tourney in ’08 and ’10. Middlebury is 1-3 in NCAA play, falling at Rochester 56-43 in a first-round game in ’08, while dropping a 78-76 game at home to Bridgewater State in the second-round two years ago. Last season the team hosted a regional, winning its first NCAA game with a 64-57 victory over Gordon. Middlebury fell in the regional final to Rhode Island College by a score of 75-59.

The Panthers are enjoying another record-breaking year, tying the school mark for wins in a season with 25 against just one loss. Middlebury’s winning percentage (.962) is second-best in the nation, with the Panthers rising to a program-best ranking of second nationally (D3Hoops.com). Middlebury is also among the nation’s leaders in scoring margin (+17.1 – 6th) and rebound margin (+8.9 – 6th). Defense has once again been the key to the Panthers’ success, with the team leading the nation in field goal percentage defense (.345) for the third consecutive season. Middlebury also boasts a nation’s-best 7.5 blocked shots/game, a category they’ve led the country in for the past four years.

Senior Andrew Locke has been the anchor of the nation’s best defense and was recently named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, also earning second-team honors. The 6’10” center is currently third in Division III with 4.0 blocked shots/game, while altering many more. Locke is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg) this season, shooting .625 from the floor. He owns school records for blocked shots in a game (13), season (114) and career (349). Locke enjoyed a triple double earlier this season with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in a win at Colby-Sawyer, while owning five double-doubles.

Junior Ryan Sharry has a dozen double-doubles on the year, leading the team with 13.8 points and 10.4 rebounds/game, while ranking second with 22 steals. The first-team All-NESCAC selection is shooting .527 from the floor this season, while ranking second only to Locke with 1.9 blocks/contest. Sharry owns 889 points, 600 boards and 126 blocks through 77 career games. After a pair of double-doubles at the NESCAC Championship weekend, Sharry was named the league’s player of the week.

Sophomore Jake Wolfin runs the point, leading the team with 5.0 assists/game to go along with a team-high 40 thefts on the season. Wolfin averages 8.7 points/game, with 31 threes. He earned a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists in a win at Plattsburgh earlier this season. Wolfin has an assist in every game this season, including a dozen in a win over Rensselaer.

Senior Ryan Wholey is third on the team in scoring with 10.3 points/game this season. He has played in 92 career games at Middlebury, scoring 602 points. Wholey has earned double-digits in points 11 times this season, including 24 at Plattsburgh State.

Sophomore Nolan Thompson rounds out the regular starting five, as one of the team’s top defenders. He is third on the squad in scoring with 9.7 points/game, while leading the team with 38 three-point field goals made. Thompson averaged 24.5 ppg over a pair of NESCAC road games in mid-January, earning NESCAC Player of the Week honors.

Senior Jamal Davis and rookie Joey Kizel are often first off the bench for the Panthers. Davis shoots .612 from the floor and owns 23 blocked shots, while averaging 4.6 points per game. Kizel has enjoyed a solid rookie season, ranking second only to Wolfin with 3.4 assists/game. He shoots .447 from the floor, scoring 8.1 points/contest.

Head Coach Jeff Brown is now in his 14th year at the helm of the Panthers, having previously served as the Bates bench boss for three seasons. He has led the team to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances with a combined record of 93-17 in that time. The team has also won a pair of NESCAC Championships (’09 & ’11) under his tenure, with him earning NESCAC Coach of the Year honors in ’09 and ’11.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Vermont, Brown scored more than 1,000 points and earned induction into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame during his Catamount basketball career. He is 10th on the all-time scoring list (1,336 points), second in steals (170), seventh in assists (428), eighth in field goals made (526), and ninth in free throws made (284). While playing at UVM, Brown averaged 12.7 points and 4.1 assists per game. He spent three years as the top assistant basketball coach at Manhattan College in New York, before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach for nine years (1985-94).

2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
First-Round, Thursday, March 3rd 
W. Conn. 89, Salve Regina 67 (17-11)

Second-Round, Saturday, March 5th
W. Conn. (22-5) @ Middlebury (25-1) – 7:00