Middlebury

Men's Basketball Headed To Rochester For Sectionals - Ticket Info.

March 8, 2011

The Middlebury College men's basketball team will make its first appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 when they travel to Rochester, N.Y. for a sectional. The Panthers will take on the University of Rochester on Friday, March 11th at 7:30 p.m. St. Mary’s of Maryland and the University of Buffalo will play in the first game at 5:30 p.m. The sectional final (quarterfinal) game will take place on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Games will be played at the Louis Alexander Palestra (1,800) on the campus of the University of Rochester. Middlebury fans can reserve tickets by calling 802-443-6433 or visiting http://boxoffice.middlebury.edu/index.php. The games will also feature live video and live stats with links to the right.

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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 2-3 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 the following day to Rhode Island College, 75-59.

Last Saturday, the Panthers, who earned a first-round bye, earned a second-round win over Western Connecticut before a sold-out crowd in Pepin Gym. Middlebury led 40-28 at the half, led by 16 points and nine boards from junior Ryan Sharry. The Panthers led by 18 with 9:12 remaining, going on a 9-2 run to put the game out of reach. A hoop and a pair of free throws 30 seconds later from Nolan Thompson made it a 70-45 game with 4:34 left. The lead grew to as many as 28 on a late three, before the Panthers closed out the game with a 79-53 win.

Thompson aided Sharry’s 16-point, 13 rebound effort with a dozen, Jamal Davis added 11 with six boards, while Wolfin scored 10 with four assists. The Middlebury defense held WestConn to 33 points below their average of 85.9 ppg, holding them well-below their average of 8.4 threes/game with two. The Colonials, who normally shoot .451 from the floor, saw the nation’s top field goal percentage defense hold them to .350.

The Panthers are enjoying another record-breaking year, setting the school mark for wins in a season with 26 against just one loss. Middlebury’s winning percentage (.963) 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 (+17.4 – 5th) and rebound margin (+9.5 – 5th). 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 7.6 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 third on the team in scoring (10.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg) this season, shooting .623 from the floor. He owns school records for blocked shots in a game (13), season (114) and career (361). 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 13 double-doubles on the year, leading the team with 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds/game, while ranking second with 24 steals. The first-team All-NESCAC selection is shooting .519 from the floor this season, while ranking second only to Locke with 2.0 blocks/contest. Sharry owns 905 points, 613 boards and 130 blocks through 78 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 44 thefts on the season. Wolfin averages 8.7 points/game, with 33 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 second on the team in scoring with 10.2 points/game this season. He has played in 93 career games at Middlebury, scoring 624 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 fourth on the squad in scoring with 9.8 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 .608 from the floor and owns 24 blocked shots, while averaging 4.9 points per game. Kizel has enjoyed a solid rookie season, ranking second only to Wolfin with 3.4 assists/game. He shoots .446 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 94-17 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).

Rochester earned a bid to the tournament by winning the UAA title with an overall record of 22-5. The teams last met on March 7th of 2008 in an NCAA first-round game in Rochester, the first tournament appearance for the Panthers. Middlebury fell 56-43 in the game, shooting just .295 from the floor. Locke was the lone member of the senior class to play in the game, grabbing four boards with four blocks in 11 minutes of action.

2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Sectionals Friday, March 11th – University of Rochester 
St. Mary’s (Md.) (24-5) vs. Buffalo St. (23-6) – 5:30
Middlebury (26-1) vs. Rochester (22-5) – 7:00

Sectional Final, Saturday, March 12th – University of Rochester 
winners meet – 7:00 

COMPLETE BRACKET