Men's Basketball To Host NCAA Sectional - Tickets Sold Out

March 8, 2012

The Middlebury College men's basketball team will host a four-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Sectional for the first time in school history. The Panthers will take on Scranton on Friday, March 9th at 7:30 p.m., with Eastern Connecticut State taking on Cabrini at 5:30 p.m. The winners meet on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in the sectional final with a trip to the final four on the line.

Middlebury's allotment of tickets for the sectional are sold out. A limited number of tickets for Saturday night will be on sale in the Pepin Lobby at the conclusion of each game Friday evening.

Middlebury is making its fifth consecutive trip to the tournament, earning an at-large bid after falling in the NESCAC Championship game. The title game appearance was the fourth straight for the Panthers, who captured titles in ’09 and ’11.

Middlebury is 6-4 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 in ‘09. Two years ago, 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 the following day, 75-59.

Last season, the team made its first trip to the final four, topping Western Connecticut at home 79-53 before heading to Rochester for a sectional. The Panthers topped the host school 61-52, before defeating St. Mary’s 65-50 to advance to the final four in Virginia. Middlebury faced St. Thomas in the semifinals, falling 59-57.

Last weekend, Middlebury won its second straight NCAA Regional, topping Morrisville 75-49 and Albertus Magnus 89-73. Middlebury went on a 20-5 second half run to open up a 20-point lead on its way to the win over Morrisville. Nolan Thompson led the Panthers with a game-high 19 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with four assists. Jake Wolfin added 14 points and six assists, Joey Kizel had 11 points and five helpers, while Peter Lynch scored 10 of 5-6 shooting. Ryan Sharry finished the game with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

The following night, Middlebury pulled away in the second half to secure the win over Albertus Magnus. Sharry recorded his 16th double-double of the season, netting 21 points and a game-high 15 boards to go along with three blocks. Lynch netted 14 on 7-11 shooting, while Thompson scored 14.

Middlebury, currently ranked fourth in the latest D3Hoops.com poll, achieved the school’s first #1 ranking in men’s basketball on December 4th, a spot they held onto for eight weeks.

The Panthers are among the nation’s leaders in several categories, including fourth in field goal percentage (.508), seventh in rebound margin (+8.6), fifth in scoring margin (+16.7) and eighth in field goal percentage defense (.381).

Middlebury leads the NESCAC in scoring (79.6), field goal percentage (.508), blocked shots (4.79), field goal percentage defense (.381), rebounding margin (+8.4) and scoring margin (16.7). The team ranks second in three-point field goal percentage (.391), free throw percentage (.759) and assists (16.24) and third in three-point field goal percentage defense (.306) and scoring defense (62.9).

After missing the first five games of the season with an injury, senior Ryan Sharry jumped right back into the mix and is a finalist for the National Player of the Year. The NESCAC Player of the Year leads the league in scoring (19.0) and blocked shots (2.1), while ranking second in rebounding (10.6) and field goal percentage (.612). His field goal percentage places him 13th nationally. Sharry has 16 double-doubles this season, giving him 39 in his four years as a Panther. He scored a career-high 41 points at Rensselaer on January 3rd, with a career-best 16 boards on February 4th vs. Colby.

Sharry is currently ranked fifth on Middlebury’s all-time scoring list with 1,398 points, second with 898 rebounds and second with 189 blocked shots. A year ago, Sharry earned first-team All-NESCAC, All-District and All-ECAC honors, while being named a second-team All-American.

Sophomore Joey Kizel earned first-team All-NESCAC honors after a stellar season in the backcourt for the Panthers. Kizel is second on the team in scoring (13.7), while ranking 10th in the NESCAC. He leads the league in three-point field goal percentage (.519) and free throw percentage (.910-3rd nationally), while ranking second with a 2.29 assist/turnover ratio. Kizel is second on the squad and seventh in the league with 4.03 assists/game, while owning a .535 field goal percentage, seventh in the NESCAC.

Joining Kizel in the backcourt is junior Jake Wolfin. The team’s point guard much of the time, Wolfin leads the NESCAC with 5.34 assists/game and is fifth with a 1.76 turnover/assist ratio. He averages 9.0 points/game and owns a team-best 37 steals, ninth in the league.

Junior Nolan Thompson is the team’s top defender. He averages 9.5 points/game to go along with 4.1 rebounds/contest. Joining Sharry in the front court is junior Peter Lynch, who leads the NESCAC with a .639 field goal percentage. Lynch is third on the squad with 9.9 points/game, while ranking second with 5.3 rebounds/contest.

Rookie Dylan Sinnickson (5.8 ppg, .531 FG%), sophomore James Jensen (4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), rookie Dean Brierly (4.0. ppg), sophomore Nate Bulluck (2.7 ppg) and sophomore Jack Roberts (2.0 ppg) often see time off the Panther bench.

NESCAC Coach of the Year Jeff Brown is now in his 15th year at the helm of the Panthers (232-153), having previously served as the Bates bench boss for three seasons. He has led the team to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances with a combined record of 122-21 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, ’11 and ’12.

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).

2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Sectional – Middlebury, Vt.
Friday, March 9th
Eastern Connecticut State (24-5) vs. Cabrini (28-1) – 5:30 p.m.
Scranton (22-7) vs. Middlebury (26-3) – 7:30 p.m.

Sectional Final, Saturday, March 10th
Gametime – 7:00 p.m.