Back at it

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By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Well, it’s been a while since the last blog entry and I figured I would just write a little bit about life and times since the holiday break began.

Like our students, athletes, coaches and administrators, I used the break to spend some quality time with family and friends.  It always helps to remind me about what is truly important in life and always serves to re-energize me for the next stretch of games that will take us into April.  I must admit, however, that it is sometimes difficult to return to a focused mindset after taking a mental vacation.

This is never more evident than the first game upon returning, which was a December 30 men’s basketball game against Ferrum.  Technically we are back in action, but when it is still weeks before the students return and classes begin, it is still difficult to reclaim focus.  This feeling lasted just a few moments though as the Generals play on the court demonstrated focus and determination, which quickly helped me step back into work mode.  On the court, W&L claimed a quality 76-62 win and carried some momentum into the Generals’ annual New Year’s Tournament on Jan 2-3.

Following a somewhat sloppy 59-48 win over Swarthmore in the opening game, W&L played one of its best games to date in posting a 76-65 win over Emory in the championship game.  It’s always good to defeat top academic schools, but it is even better to defeat academic schools with a top-notch athletic program.  Any win over Emory is a good win for W&L.

The Generals are now 8-2 on the season and I hark back to my post about basketball moments from over the years and think to myself “how is this possible”.  Last year’s team started out 12-4 and that was unexpected after the graduation of some top-notch players.  In the end, it was the play of six seniors that catapulted W&L into last season’s ODAC Championship game.  Those guys having graduated, I was again entertaining modest expectations for the 2009-10 season.  But, here we are, champions of another in-season tournament and having won 80 percent of our games to date.  Amazing considering the not-so-distant history of the men’s basketball program.

When this season ends, no matter how the final 15-20 games play out, I think I will probably look back and notice that it was again leadership that led to our success.  We have three tremendous seniors in Ben Goetsch, Zac White and Andrew Payne and have been receiving inspired play from junior Jason Cimino.  The team may have just four upperclassmen, but they are setting the tone for a young squad.

The first-years and sophomores are also playing their part – it may be a different player each night, but someone always steps up when needed.  When I consider all these things, I have realized that the Generals have become a legitimate program.  The experience and knowledge continues to be passed on like a torch and the upperclassmen have come to accept the challenges of leading the team each year.  When this happens, when there is consistency from the players and coaches from year-to-year, then success can’t help but follow.

I guess this blog has turned out to be a little something different than I intended when I began writing about holiday vacation and returning to “the grind”, but I just couldn’t help the opportunity to write about the play of the men’s basketball team since I’ve returned.  In addition, before closing, I want to give a shout out to Goetsch for his play over the past week.  The brutal truth is that there were three W&L players deserving of making the all-tournament team over the weekend and only two spots available.  Cimino and White (MVP) received the selections, but Goetsch was again outstanding, averaging 14.0 points and 14.5 rebounds per game over the two tournament games.  He grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds in the championship game and had 21 points and 11 rebounds against Swarthmore.  After averaging just 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 66 games over his first three seasons, Goetsch is averaging 17.6 points and 10.0 rebounds in 10 games this season and is probably the biggest reason for the Generals’ success this year.

Also coming this week, Rachel’s account of the women’s basketball trip to San Diego, along with probably a few tidbits about her holiday vacation back in Wisconsin (which I’m sure will include references to beer and cheese).

Happy New Year everyone!

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