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NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Information
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - The second-ranked Amherst men’s basketball team returns to action on Sunday, Apr. 7 in the NCAA Division III national championship game against Mary Hardin-Baylor at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga. Winners of 23-straight, the Jeffs will take aim at the program's second national title, while the Crusaders make their first ever championship appearance this weekend.
Tip-off for the title tilt is set for 12:30 p.m. Tickets to the Division III national championship game are free of charge and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.
DIII NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, SUnday, Apr. 7
Amherst (29-2) vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-5)
Philips Arena * Atlanta, Ga. * 12:30 p.m.
TICKET INFORMATION: All general admission tickets to the Division III national championship game are free of charge.
LIVE COVERAGE: The championship game will feature live stats and will also be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network, Channel 16 on campus. Please check with your local cable provider on the availability of CBS Sports Network in your area.
VIEWING PARTY: Can't make it to Atlanta? You're in luck because the Friends of Amherst Athletics invites you to join fellow fans in Stirn Auditorium where the action will be streamed live. Doors open at 12 p.m. for the 12:30 tip-off. Viewing parties are also being held for alumni in Boston, New York and Minneapolis.
BEHIND THE SCENES: For additional coverage be sure to check out our NCAA Tournament blog as Amherst Sports Information gives you an inside look at Championship Week with photos, videos, interviews and more live from Atlanta.
Alumni Reception: The Friends of Amherst Athletics cordially invites Amherst fans to attend a reception with the men's basketball team at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center following the game on Sunday, Apr. 7. The reception will be held in the Salon IV, Grand Ballroom from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served and fans must RSVP if they plan on attending the event.
Salon IV, Grand Ballroom
800 Spring St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
(hotel is located 2 miles from Phillips Arena)
Reception generously hosted by Peter Canfield '76, P'11, P'16
LODGING: There are a limited number of rooms available at the Melia Atlanta Hotel ($189 per night), but due to the demand in Atlanta during Final Four weekend, Amherst Athletics cannot guarantee rooms.
Fans traveling must make their own arrangements in regards to accommodations and contact those businesses directly. A list of area hotels can be found on the City of Atlanta website and the official NCAA Final Four webpage, along with information on assorted events, dining, etc.
Probable Starters - Amherst
|1||Willy Workman||F||6-6||Sr.||Northampton, MA||12.1||7.7||3.9|
|2||Aaron Toomey||G||6-1||Jr.||Greensboro, NC||17.4||4.7||4.9|
|10||Allen Williamson||G||6-4||Sr.||Saugus, MA||11.7||5.0||1.8|
|22||Tom Killian||G/F||6-4||Jr.||Summit, NJ||7.1||4.0||1.3|
|54||Peter Kaasila||C||6-9||Sr.||Plaistow, NH||12.8||6.0||0.5|
Probable Starters - Mary Hardin-Baylor
|3||Thomas Orr||W||6-5||Sr.||Hutto, TX||14.8||5.0||2.1|
|11||Brian Todd||W||6-4||Sr.||Pflugerville, TX||10.8||5.0||1.2|
|21||James Allen||G||6-0||Jr.||The Woodlands, TX||13.0||5.5||3.5|
|22||Kitrick Bell||F||6-4||Jr.||Ford Bend, TX||12.3||10.1||0.8|
|33||Cory Meals||W||6-5||Sr.||Whitesboro, TX||9.2||4.1||0.7|
SCOUTING AMHERST (29-2, 10-0 NESCAC)
Welcome to the Show
Coming off a 52-44 Final Four win over No. 3 North Central, Amherst will make its third appearance in the national championship game after going to back-to-back title tilts in 2007 and 2008. The Lord Jeffs defeated Virginia Wesleyan (80-67) in the 2007 final to capture the program’s first national championship before falling to Washington- St. Louis (90-68) the following season.
After dropping two of three games during a rough stretch to start December, the Jeffs have rattled off 23 consecutive wins, tying a program record. Amherst’s 2006-07 national championship team opened the year 23-0 before falling to Trinity (62-59) on the final day of the NESCAC regular season. After also losing to Williams in the conference championship game, the team regained its form, closing out the year with five straight wins and defeating Virginia Wesleyan to claim the 2007 NCAA crown. With a victory on Sunday, the 2012-13 squad can set a new benchmark for consecutive wins (24), while also tying the 2007 team for the best record in program history (30-2).
No stranger to the NCAA Tournament, Amherst is 32-15 all-time in 15 championship appearances. Since earning their first berth in 1994, the Jeffs have advanced to the national quarterfinals on eight occasions, making five trips to the Final Four. Appearing in its third national championship game, Amherst has been the second-winningest team in DIII since 2000 (321-62, .838), capturing an unprecedented six conference championships during that span, while qualifying for all but one (2009-10) NCAA Tournament field.
Final Four Weekend
Held in Salem, Va. since 1996, this year’s DIII Championship makes its way to Philips Arena (home to the Atlanta Hawks) in Atlanta, Ga. Held in conjunction with the men’s DI Final Four weekend as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of March Madness, this is the first time the DI, DII and DIII Championships will be played in the same host city. Amherst tips off against Mary Hardin-Baylor at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Apr. 7 in a nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network.
Road to Atlanta
Coming off its second consecutive undefeated run through the NESCAC regular season and playoffs, Amherst earned one of two first round byes to the field of 62. Despite a two-week layoff, the Jeffs proved to be rested instead of rusty in second round action against SUNY Plattsburgh, building a first half lead as large as 26 en route to a commanding 89-72 victory at LeFrak Gymnasium. It was more of the same the following weekend against an upstart Randolph-Macon squad, as the Purple & White shot nearly 65 percent (22-for-34) from the floor and 67 percent (10-for-15) from three-point range over the first 20 minutes, going up by as much as 28 in the 93-76 home triumph. While the threes weren’t falling in the Elite Eight against Cabrini (4-for-21), Amherst efficiently dominated play in the post, shooting 52.7 percent overall and shredding the Cavalier defense for 101 points in another lopsided victory. Things got decidedly tougher against North Central the following night, but the Jeffs proved they could grind out a low-scoring win, pulling ahead in a defensive struggle (52-44) to punch their ticket to Atlanta.
Climbing the Charts
Ranked fifth in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, Amherst dropped as low as No. 25 after suffering losses to Springfield and Babson during the first week of December. Since then, Amherst has steadily risen back to the top of the national rankings, regaining its spot in the top five (No. 2) in mid-February as it reeled off 23 consecutive victories.
And The Winner Is
Point guard Aaron Toomey ’14 recently added to an already-full trophy case, garnering recognition as the NABC National Player of the Year. One of only two juniors to receive first team NABC All-America honors, he was also the organization’s Northeast District Player of the Year. A D3hoops.com first team All-America selection and NESCAC Player of the Year, Toomey is tied third in the league in assists (4.9 apg), fourth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4) and sixth nationally in free throw percentage (.897).
March to 700
Since taking over the Amherst program in 1977-78, David Hixon ’75 has racked up a 692-252 record in 36 seasons at his alma mater. His 692 career wins rank fourth among active Division III coaches and fifth all-time, while his .733 winning percentage is also among the highest in NCAA history. Named the NABC National Coach of the Year in 2006-07 after leading Amherst to its first NCAA crown, he will make his third trip to the national championship game this weekend having already guided the program to the second-highest winning percentage in DIII since 2000 (.838).
First Time for Everything
Sunday’s championship game will mark the first ever meeting between Amherst and Mary Hardin-Baylor. The first team from the state of Texas to reach the Division III national championship game, the unranked Crusaders will look to take home the UMHB athletic department’s first NCAA team title.
By making a school record 182 of his 200 attempts from the charity stripe last season Aaron Toomey ’14 set a new program record for free throw percentage (.910). Nearly as lethal from the line this year, the junior has converted 130-of-145 attempts (.897) - good for sixth nationally.
Glenn Robinson Award Finalist
Guiding Amherst to a 15th NCAA Tournament appearance and a third trip to the national championship game, David Hixon ’75 has been named a finalist for the Glenn Robinson Award, presented annually to the top Division III coach in the nation. Named the NABC Northeast District Coach of the Year and the NESCAC Coach of the Year, Hixon led Amherst to its second undefeated conference slate. Over the past two seasons, the Jeffs are 26-0 (regular and postseason) against league opponents, winning a pair of NESCAC championships (six overall).
Aaron Toomey ’14, Willy Workman ’13 and Peter Kaasila ’13 all reached a career benchmark in 2012-13 as the trio joined the program’s 1,000-point club. The first of the three to surpass the plateau with 12 points against Brandeis on Dec. 8, Toomey currently ranks ninth on the team’s scoring charts with 1,400 points. Workman, who hit the milestone on Feb. 1 against Bates, sits 18th (1,133) while Kaasila ranks 25th (1,029), passing the mark with 14 points in the NESCAC title game against Williams.
While only a junior, Aaron Toomey ’14 sits just 309 points shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer in Amherst men’s basketball history. The second guard from head coach David Hixon’s program to earn National Player of the Year honors in the past decade, he joined Andrew Olson ’08 – the lone winner in 2008 after sharing the honor in 2007 – on an elite list of student-athletes to don the Purple & White. For the third consecutive year, one the nation’s highest honorees has called LeFrak Gym home after Caroline Stedman ’12 and Jaci Daigneault ’11 of the women’s program were named Player of the Year after their senior seasons.
Rested vs. Rusty
For the second time this postseason, Amherst takes the court after a two week layoff. One of only two teams to earn a first round bye, the Jeffs wrapped up NESCAC championship play on Feb. 24 and did not return to action until a second round showdown with SUNY Plattsburgh on Mar. 9. Showing little signs of rust, Amherst built a first half lead as large as 26, shooting 19-for-34 (55.9 percent) from the field over the first 20 minutes of action. Aaron Toomey ’14 led the way, knocking down six treys en route to a game-high 25 points, while Allen Williamson ’13 and David Kalema ’14 had 16 and 15 points, respectively, combining for a 13-for-20 showing from the floor. Willy Workman ’13 was the only other Jeff in double figures in the 89-72 win, finishing with 11 points, as Amherst knocked down 49.2 percent of its shots and 50.0 percent of its three-pointers.
Road to Redemption
After closing out the 2009-10 season with a 14-11 slate, Amherst’s Class of 2013 could make amends this weekend by delivering the program’s second national title. Posting the school’s lowest win total since 1990-91 and snapping a steak of 10 straight NCAA appearances as rookies, tri-captains Allen Williamson ’13, Peter Kaasila ’13 and Willy Workman ’13 have improved with each successive season, winning 25 games and advancing to the 2011 national quarterfinals as sophomores and 26 games en route to a Sweet 16 berth last year. With one more win on Sunday, the trio would have come full circle, having helped guide the Jeffs to the program’s longest win streak (24), while tying the program mark for victories in a season (30).
Jack of All Trades
A D3hoops.com All-America, NABC All-District and NESCAC first team selection, Willy Workman ’13 has continued to live up to his reputation as one of the league’s most versatile players, averaging 12.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Also one of the conference’s premier defenders, he also ranks third in blocks (1.5) and tied for second in steals (1.6). Leading the squad in rebounding 13 times this season, he has seven double-doubles to his credit. In his signature game, he scored a career-high 30 points with a personal-best 13 rebounds to help lift Amherst to a 104-101 triple overtime win over then-No. 3 Middlebury. With Amherst down three in the waning moments of the second OT, he made a free throw then intentionally missed the second. Corralling the rebound, he laid it in for two as time expired to give the Jeffs new life while earning himself a spot on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays.
Man in the Middle
Posting career-high averages in points (12.8) and rebounds (6.0) per game, Peter Kaasila ’13 has quietly developed into one of the NESCAC’s most efficient post players. Connecting on 178-of-278 shots this season, he tops the conference and ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage (.640). Scoring a career-best 29 points in the regular season, triple-overtime finale against Middlebury, he pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds against Bates on Feb. 1. Garnering conference Player of the Week honors on Feb. 25, he shot nearly 74 percent from the field during the NESCAC semis and finals, netting 18 points against Tufts before scoring 14 points and going over the 1,000-point plateau in the championship game against Williams.
Coming Into His Own
Averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds during the regular season, Allen Williamson ’13 has played some of his best basketball of late, averaging 16.0 points and 7.6 boards, while shooting 56.5 percent in seven NESCAC and NCAA tournament games. Tallying a team-high 17 points with the game saving block in the conference championship against Williams, he shot 68.4 percent in the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney, averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Netting 16 with a career-high 15 boards in the Elite Eight against Cabrini, he was one of two Jeffs in double figures against North Central, turning in another double-double with 17 points and 10 boards.
While Aaron Toomey ’14 deservedly gets much of the attention, fellow junior guards Tom Killian and David Kalema have played an integral role in a balanced Jeff attack, combining for 16 points and nearly eight rebounds a game. Starting all 27 of his appearances, Killian gives Amherst size on the perimeter, while Kalema has settled into a role as the team’s sixth man. Kalema has been especially effective during the NCAA tournament run, averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting nearly 47 percent from the floor and 60 percent from three-point range.
Playing in all 31 of the team’s games, first-years Connor Green and Ben Pollack have made immediate impacts during their rookie seasons. Averaging almost 10 points per game, Green has shown the ability to light it up from outside, shooting almost 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Serving as the squad’s primary back-up to center Peter Kaasila ’13, Pollack gives Amherst a big body off the bench. Averaging just over four points per game, Pollack erupted for a career-high 14 in the Elite Eight against Cabrini, going 6-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line. With points at a premium against North Central, Green had a pair of big three point plays two minutes apart in the first half to help stave off a couple Cardinal runs.
Old Faces, New Places
Roaming the Amherst sidelines this season are a pair of familiar faces in assistant coaches Kevin Hopkins ’08 and Matt Goldsmith ’08. Members of the 2007 national championship team, Hopkins and Goldsmith helped the Class of 2008 post a 111-12 record en route to three consecutive Final Four appearances (2006, 2007, 2008). Averaging over 17 minutes during the title run, Hopkins started 30 of 31 games as a senior, finishing his career with 813 points, 346 rebounds and 131 blocks. Seeing limited time in 2006-07, Goldsmith saw action in all 31 of the team's games as a senior, averaging over 16 minutes per contest. Both Hopkins and Goldsmith continued their playing careers as professionals in Germany following graduation before returning to Amherst to coach.
Lighting it Up
Averaging 83.8 points per game, Amherst leads the NESCAC and ranks ninth nationally in scoring offense. Sitting 12th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.1), the Jeffs boast a lineup that features four players who average double figures. After averaging 94.3 points in its first three NCAA tournament games, the Jeffs were shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from three heading into the Final Four game with North Central. Especially effective over the first two rounds, the Jeffs shot over 50 percent from both the field and three-point range in wins over SUNY Plattsburgh and Randolph-Macon. Despite struggling from downtown in the Elite Eight, Amherst still shot nearly 53 percent from the floor, while putting up 101 points. Scoring a season-high 117 points against Curry on Nov. 17, the Jeffs have finished in triple digits on five occasions, while scoring at least 90 points nine times.
After scoring 101 points the night before, Amherst found itself mired in a defensive struggle in the national semifinal against North Central. Scoreless for the first 8:58 of the second half, the Jeffs turned to their defense to help carry the day, with the Purple & White keeping the Cardinals from building a lead larger than three despite the dry spell. Holding NCC to just 31.3 percent shooting and a 28.6 percent clip from three-point range, Amherst kept the third-ranked team in the country to just 44 points - its lowest output of the season and 25 points under its season average. It was the second time Amherst had held an opponent under 50 points in 2012-13 after the Jeffs limited Williams to just 48 points on 30.4 percent shooting and a 13.3 percent showing from beyond the arc on Feb. 10. Last year, Amherst held Trinity to just 11 field goals and 30 points - the lowest the program has ever allowed to a conference foe in NESCAC play.
Amherst and the NBA
Recently, several former Amherst coaches and players have made the transition into NBA front offices following their respective stints in the Pioneer Valley. Donning the Purple & White in the mid-to-late 90s, Ken Catanella ’97 serves as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons, while Glenn Wong ’09 began working for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a video analyst for the club’s minor league operations staff. An assistant coach at Amherst under David Hixon ’75 from 2007-09, Koby Altman was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers last August to serve as Pro Personnel Manager, coordinating the team’s domestic professional scouting efforts. His successor, John Halas, who joined Hixon’s staff as an assistant in the fall of 2009, now serves as the Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Orlando Magic.
SCOUTING MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR (27-5, 17-2 ASC)
Posting a school record 27 wins, Mary Hardin-Baylor punched its first ever ticket to the national championship game in its sixth NCAA tournament appearance. The first team from the state of Texas to advance to the title game, the Crusaders earned one of two first round byes in the field of 62 despite failing to win the American Southwest Conference (ASC) championship and not receiving a single vote in the weekly D3hoops.com top-25 poll.
UMHB has made the most of its most recent berth to the NCAA championship, defeating No. 6 Whitworth, No. 11 St. Mary’s (Md.) and No. 1 St. Thomas on the way to Atlanta. Down by 14 with 10:22 remaining in the national semifinal showdown with the Tommies, the Crusaders closed out the game on a 34-13 run to secure a 74-67 victory. James Allen ’14 paced UMHB with 19 points, while Kitrick Bell ’14 added 14 points and seven rebounds. Layton Zinsmeister ’16 chipped in with a career-high 14 points off the bench, while Cory Meals ’13 and Thomas Orr ’13 had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
A D3hoops.com honorable mention All-America selection, Bell leads the ASC in rebounding (10.1), while averaging 12.3 points per contest. A D3hoops.com second team All-South region honoree, he also earned ASC All-Conference and first team ASC All-West Division accolades and is the first Crusader to garner national recognition since Robert Moore took home third team honors in 2001.
Ranked seventh in the league in points per game (14.8), Orr helps pace the conference’s second-highest scoring offense (77.2 ppg), also sitting among the conference leaders in three-pointers made (1.9) and free throw percentage (.836). Allen is the team’s second leading scorer, pouring in 13.0 ppg, while also pulling down 5.5 rebounds and dishing out 3.5 assists.
Brian Todd ’13 gives UMHB another scoring option, netting almost 10.8 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting, while also helping to key the team’s defensive efforts with 1.6 steals per outing. As a unit, the Crusaders top the league in opponent field goal percentage (.389) and rebounding margin (5.7).
Along with Meals, Todd joins a senior class that is the first in program history to earn an NCAA tournament bid in four successive seasons. Helping UMHB become the first unranked team in the final regular season top-25 poll to reach the championship game, head coach Ken DeWeese, now in his 15th season, earned D3hoops.com, Schelde North America/DIII News and ASC West Coach of the Year honors.
2013 NCAA DIVISION III MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Atlanta, Ga. * Philips Arena
National Championship - Sunday, Apr. 7
Amherst (29-2) vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-5)
TOURNAMENT BRACKET * LIVE STATISTICS
*** Check out photos, videos, interviews and more in our NCAA TOURNAMENT BLOG ***
NCAA Championship Website * Philips Arena Website
City of Atlanta Website * NCAA Final Four Website
Amherst Website * Mary Hardin-Baylor Website