|Marcos Echevarria has stepped in as a freshman and is averaging 18.0 points per game, including hitting 73 3-pointers.
Nichols athletics photo
As an associate head coach with the MIT men’s basketball team, Tom Glynn learned the Engineers’ three keys to be successful: take care of the basketball, rebound and play smart.
Those three keys remained with Glynn when he accepted the head coaching position at Nichols last school year. And since becoming the bench boss for the Bison, Nichols has captured the top seed in the Commonwealth Coast Conference twice, while winning 12 consecutive contests, dating to a road victory against Eastern Nazarene in January.
Nichols checked-in as the 11th team in the NCAA Division III Northeast regional rankings last week and hopes to extend its campaign into mid-March.
“The biggest difference between this year and last year’s team is this year’s team keeps getting better,” said Glynn, whose squad is currently 20-3 overall and 14-2 in conference play.
“We watch film of this team as a staff and we don’t recognize our team (because of constant improvements every week). They look so much better defensively, and our first-year players’ confidence has improved and they are learning what it takes to be successful in college basketball.”
Nichols’ constant improvement is a testament to Glynn, who considers his first season on the bench an important year of learning that has helped the Bison maintain success in his second year. He enjoyed a storybook campaign last winter, guiding the Bison to a conference-best 17-1 ledger, but their run toward a title ended earlier than anticipated with a 50-49 setback to University of New England in the opening round of the CCC tournament.
“I learned a lot from a coaching standpoint (after our team’s setback to UNE),” said Glynn. “It helped me understand what we had to get better at as a basketball program and we addressed those issues during the offseason with recruiting and with our returning players.
“The loss was certainly motivation for the returning players because they had to work even harder and put in more time to get back to that spot of being No. 1, so we are hopeful this year we will have a different outcome.”
Nichols’ 2015-16 campaign began with a pair of non-conference wins against Becker and Thomas, along with victories against Lasell and Westfield State, but the Bison did encounter a few bumps, falling to Daniel Webster and Endicott, with the loss to the Gulls in overtime.
Glynn and the Bison did rebound following their second setback to the Gulls – they did drop one more contest a few weeks later against Western New England – but have been playing some impressive basketball over the past few weeks.
As a team, Nichols has outscored opponents, 2,092-1,707, while posting a 9-2 record in Dudley. The Bison have won 11 of 12 games on the road this season thanks to some impressive performances from various players down the stretch.
Said Glynn, “Some of our players have had big games on the road this season, including one of our freshmen - Marcos Echevarria – he had six points in the final minutes in our game against Westfield State. Senior Irving Eggleston has been big on the road with some big baskets down the stretch, but I wish I could figure it out, however, we have been able to play well on the road.”
In addition to the road success, Nichols has received multiple contributions from Eggleston, Echevarria, Devin Stallings, Nate Tardy and Gustave Koumare, who is second on the team in trifectas. Nichols boasts a trio of top 18 scorers in the conference, which according to the team’s recent release is something no other program can claim.
Nichols will close out its regular season slate this week, traveling to Gordon on Tuesday before hosting Eastern Nazarene on Saturday with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m. And with the top seed in the conference locked up for the third season in a row, Glynn and his staff are optimistic that last season’s setback to the Nor’easters will be on the mind of his Bison once the conference tournaments begins on Wednesday, Feb. 23, along with his team’s three keys of protecting the basketball, rebounding and playing smart.
“This team gets better every day and I expect this team to be much better as we approach the postseason,” said Glynn.
NESCAC tournament beginning Saturday
The New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament kicks off on Saturday, February 20 with 16 teams – eight men and eight women – competing for the conference title, along with an automatic qualifier for the upcoming NCAA Division III Tournament.
Trinity earned the top seed on the men’s, winning 9 of 10 conference tilts to claim the number one seed for the second straight season. The Bantams host eighth seed Colby College, while second seed Amherst will entertain seventh seed Bowdoin. Tufts earned the third seed – it is the highest seed in the NESCAC tournament for the Jumbos since 2006 – and will host sixth seed Williams, while fourth seed Middlebury welcomes fifth seed Wesleyan.
The Tufts women’s team captured the top seed for the fourth consecutive season and posted a perfect 10-0 ledger in league play. They will commence the conference tournament with a home game against eighth seed Middlebury, while second seed Amherst hosts seventh seed Bates. Third seed Bowdoin will enter the tournament riding a seven-game winning streak and will entertain sixth seed Williams, while fourth seed Connecticut College entertains fifth seed Colby.
As noted on the NESCAC website, the highest seed will host both the semifinals and finals from Feb. 27-28.
Northeast regional clippings
Newbury freshman Savannah Olsen earned her fourth New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week honor after posting 42 points and 20 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Nighthawks. Olsen tallied 21 points in both contests and recorded her seventh double-double of the season. ... Maine Maritime first-year Alayne Felix earned this week’s North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Week honors after posting her fourth double-double of the season in her team’s 67-55 setback to Castleton. ... Western Connecticut freshman Kayla Croswell picked up her fifth Little East Conference Rookie of the Week accolade on Monday after shooting 75 percent from the floor in a 2-0 week for the Colonials. ... Wheaton (Mass.) claimed an impressive 64-60 win over WPI last Saturday and will look to conclude their regular season slate with a victory on Wednesday against Babson College on the Road. Alyssa Almario posted a team-high 15 points in the win to bump Wheaton’s mark to 17-7 overall and 10-5 in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference play.