Coming off a 15-10 season that ended with a 77-71 loss to Tufts in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament, the 2016-17 Williams College Ephs are fired up and ready to make a run this season. Having only lost one starter to graduation while adding four talented first-years and a newly healthy Michael Greenman, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, these Ephs are energized and confident.
Williams head coach Kevin App, who is entering his third season as the Ephs' head coach, embodies this team's enthusiasm and sense of connection: "With twelve returners, and it being my third season, there is a level of excitement and appreciation in the gym every day. The group really understands what our staff expects, and what the strengths of each of their teammates are. It's our hope this translates to a cohesive, selfless style of play once games begin."
A major contributor to this cohesiveness is the opportunity the squad had to travel to Spain for eight days in August, where they competed against Spanish teams in addition to exploring Spanish culture and cities. The focus was on "chemistry, culture, and competition," and both App and senior tri-captain Daniel Aronowitz called the experience "unbelievable", highlighting the trip's effect on team chemistry. App said that the trip "allowed us to really jump-start our groups' trust in one another, as well as in their own abilities," while Aronowitz commented on the "momentum the trip built going into the school year. It was unbelievable from a chemistry standpoint. We weren't thinking about who were playing; we were just enjoying ourselves on and off the court. I think we have a more experienced group because of those eight days we had in Spain."
Aronowitz, a 6'5 guard from Columbus, OH, was selected to the All-NESCAC First Team last season after a breakout year that saw him lead the Ephs in points (455), rebounds (157), and steals (23) while shooting 40.7% from three-point range. "Daniel proved last year what a dynamic and consistent player he is," coach App said, "and we've come to expect it from him."
Though he is a contender for All-American honors and on pace to become the 33rd Williams player to score 1000 points in a career, Aronowitz isn't focused on any of that: "I'm just so excited to get one last go round to spend every day with our team and our coaching staff. We have an amazing program here, and I do not to take it for granted. I'm just looking forward to playing my heart out everyday both in practice and in games."
Joining Aronowitz as captains are senior Taysean Scott and redshirt junior Michael Greenman. Scott, who also played defensive back for the Williams football team for three seasons, has struggled with injuries which have limited his playing time, but his leadership on and off the court is a true asset, according to coach App: "Taysean is one of the best teammates and young men I've coached. In only two seasons on varsity, he has impressed his teammates with his positivity and selflessness, and they rewarded him by voting him captain."
Greenman, meanwhile, only played four games last season due to injury after starting for much of his freshman and sophomore seasons. The 5'8 point guard from Linwood, New Jersey, will be the Ephs' go-to floor general; coach App called Greenman's return "incredibly comforting for our staff and the team to have his experience, leadership and talent out on the floor."
Other returning veterans for the Ephs are juniors Cole Teal, Chris Galvin, and Adam Kroot. Teal started all but one game for the Ephs last year and led the team in three-point percentage, sinking over 41% of his long-range shots. Galvin helped to fill the void left by Mike Greenman's injury last year and is a valuable ball handler in the backcourt, while Kroot has provided key relief off the bench. "Our juniors' growth and maturity on and off the court has been great to be a part of the last two years, coach App said of Teal, Galvin, and Kroot. "All three give us a veteran presence and stability on the court."
Williams is in the midst of a youth movement; six sophomores will be looking to make their names on the court this year. 6'7 sophomore Kyle Scadlock started 22 games in his first year for the Ephs and has spent the summer working on his inside game, while Bobby Casey started seven games last year in relief of the injured Greenman and will look to continue the success he had last year. 6'6 forward James Heskett appeared in all 25 games for the Ephs last year and registered 105 points in his 305 minutes.A combination of 6'8 forward Marcos Soto, one of only three Ephs with a field goal percentage over 50% last year, 6'10 center Michael Kempton, and 6'9 center Jake Porath will work to fill the shoes of the graduated Ed Flynn.
Coach App sees a ton of promise in this group going into this season: "The Spain trip really allowed our staff to see the growth in this group. All six have worked hard and noticeably improved over the offseason; they have an added level of confidence that shows on the court. Kempton, Soto, and Porath give us size and versatility on both ends of the court, Heskett and Scadlock give the team length, skill, and athleticism on the wing; and Bobby Casey has used his experience last season to give us consistent shot-making and play-making in the backcourt."
In addition to the six returning sophomores, the Ephs add four talented first-years: Vince Brookins (6'2; Twinsburg, OH) in the backcourt, Henry Feinberg (6'5; San Francisco, CA) and Mickey Babek (6'5; Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA) on the wing, and Matthew Karpowicz (6'8; Wellesley, MA) in the post. The group has impressed not only their coaches but also their teammates. Daniel Aronowitz said that the new class fits right in: "They are four unbelievable guys who really fit in with our team and with our mission. Plus they're all really talented payers; it's exciting to have a class that fits in so well in both of those ways." Coach App added, "This class has engaging personalities off the court and exciting talent on the court that Eph fans will enjoy getting to know."
The Ephs open their season at home at Chandler Gymnasium against Manhattanville College on Friday, November 18 at 6:00.