Men's Basketball Season Outlook

Head Coach Mike Maker
Head Coach Mike Maker

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- When asked to reflect on last season's 30-2 record, which saw the Ephs reach the national finals, Williams head men's basketball coach Mike Maker said, "We are all very proud of what we accomplished.  It was a magical run and rewarding experience for everyone involved.  As proud as we are of last season and the many accomplishments, the current staff and players have moved on and look forward to the opportunity to compete this season."

"Our core values and philosophy remain the same:  team first, chemistry is everything, sharing the ball, playing with spirit and enthusiasm, and above all striving to make everyone associated with Williams proud of our effort, both on and off the court."

Replacing seven graduating seniors and three starters, including Jostens Trophy winner Blake Schultz, will be a difficult challenge.  The 8th ranked Ephs will look to Preseason All-American nominees Troy Whittington and James Wang, and sharpshooting forward Harlan Dodson to help fill the void.  This tri-captain trio along with cerebral sophomore guard Nate Robertson gives the Ephs a talented core group of players to build around.

Troy Whittington '11

Troy Whittington will be making his first career start following a stellar junior season when he averaged 11 points, 6 rebounds, and recorded 80 blocks.  "The maturation of Troy Whittington as a player and person has been a pleasure to watch," noted Maker.  "His superior athleticism is obvious to everyone who has seen him play, however, what people fail to realize is that Troy affects the game in so many other areas.  He has a soft feathery touch around the basket, and exceptional vision, which allows him to make his teammates better.  Finally, his length and quickness on the interior gives our team a major advantage."

Last winter, James Wang played 1,009 minutes (most on the team) and averaged 17.3 points, hitting on 56% of his field goals (190-342), 51% of his 3-pointers (69-136), and 86% of his free throws (105-122).  "James is a dynamic player and a joy to watch and coach," commented Maker.  "He is very imaginative, and has the ability to create his own shot while also getting open looks for his teammates. Obviously, James and Troy give us a formidable one- two punch."

Wing forward Harlan Dodson has started the past two seasons and gives the Ephs a consistent threat from behind the arc.  He shot 41% (49-119) from three-point land last season.  "Harlan's experience, intelligence, and shooting ability add so much to our basketball team," said Maker.  "We are looking for Harlan to have a special senior season."

James Wang '12

Nate Robertson proved to be valuable asset as a first year player during the Ephs Final Four run last season.  The 6'3" sophomore guard was second on team with 92 assists, and proved to be a lock down defender.  "Nate has a great feel for the game, and great basketball IQ," stated Maker.  "He involves his teammates, is a reliable defender, and takes care of the basketball.  Nate and James give us a versatile and seasoned backcourt."

Juniors Brian Emerson and Jordan Mickens will also be afforded the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to this year's squad.  Both players share similar qualities in that they can dribble, pass, and shoot.  "Our staff is very excited regarding Brian's development as a player," said Maker.  "He has excellent skill for his size, and is a sound decision maker.  He is ready for the opportunity to contribute."  When talking about Mickens, Maker points out "Jordan's versatility and intelligence give us a lot of options.  He is comfortable in our system, and an excellent teammate."

Sophomores James Klemm and Parker McClelland will challenge for minutes at the guard and forward positions.  Klemm has the ability to stretch the defense and put up points in a hurry.  "James has the skills to be a prolific scorer and is a great teammate," noted Maker.  McClelland has added muscle to his 6'5" frame over the offseason.  "Parker is a versatile wing forward who worked extremely hard this summer to improve all areas of his game," Maker noted.

Adding depth to the frontcourt will be 6'7" sophomore Sean Hoffmann whom Maker describes as a "bouncy athlete who is quick and plays above the rim."

Harlan Dodson '11

The first-year class consists of four talented players looking to mesh with the returning players while competing for playing time.  Taylor Epley is a 6'4" physical, lefty forward with a quality all around game.  6'9" Michael Mayer adds size, skill, and craftiness to the frontline.  Hayden Rooke-Ley is a savvy 6'2" southpaw combo guard with a scorer's mentality.  Rounding out the class is 6'6" wing forward John Weinheimer who is a good athlete and plays with a high motor. "Our staff is excited about the talent level and character of our first year class," commented Maker. "We are confident that they will make meaningful contributions during their career at Williams." 

Maker, known as a player's coach, enters his third year at Williams sporting a glittering record of 47-11 (.810) highlighted by a Final Four appearance, NESCAC championship, and outright back-to-back Little Three titles (first time since 1995-96).  Last season Maker was awarded the Basketball Times Co-National Coach of the Year, Northeast Region Coach of the Year, and NESCAC Coach of the Year.  The Ephs set a school for consecutive wins (21) and led the nation in four statistical categories:  offensive field goal percentage (52.6%), three point field goal percentage (46.1%), scoring margin (19.6), and winning percentage (93.8%).  "Our staff and players embrace the rich basketball tradition at Williams, and look forward to another exciting season," Maker stated.

Maker's staff consists of veteran assistant Shaun Morris and former Eph co-captain, Kevin Snyder.  "I am fortunate to have an exceptional staff," Maker added.  "Both Shaun and Kevin continue a long line of talented young assistants that have contributed greatly to the success of Williams basketball.  We are blessed to have Shaun return for a second season.  His wealth of experience as an assistant at Towson and Williams has allowed him to have an immediate impact on the court and in recruiting. "

Snyder will assist coach Maker after spending a year at William and Mary, where the Tribe advanced to the NIT. "Having Kevin come back to Williams has been a special experience for me," said Maker. "His knowledge of our institution and our basketball system will be a valuable asset for our players and program."

The 2010 season begins for the Ephs this Friday night when they host Southern Vermont College at 8:00 PM in Chandler Gym in the first round of the Williams Invitational.

James Wang:  From Distance
February 3, 2011 James Wang: From Distance