Hamilton finding the answers

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Michael Grassey is one of five players who have started every game for Hamilton this season.
Hamilton athletics photo by Josh McKee

By Matt Noonan

Why not?

That was the question the Hamilton men’s basketball team asked themselves as they began preparing for a new season this past October.

They also asked each other the following questions, too: Why not us? Why not this season? Why not this year?

And believe it or not, these two words – well, technically these various questions, to be exact - have powered the Continentals to 16 wins thus far, including an impressive 15-game winning streak that started in mid-November, but came to an end this past weekend in Amherst, Massachusetts.

“The guys started (this saying) earlier this year and they just said, ‘why not?’ Why not us? Why not this year? Why not this game? Why not this week … you know, just why not,” coach Adam Stockwell said when asked about his team’s motivation for the 2017-18 season.

“And it just works for them,” he added.

Indeed, it has worked for this current group of Continentals. It has resulted in some impressive non-conference wins over Lebanon Valley and Moravian, along with a solid start in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, too.

And despite a mid-to-late season hiccup against a talented Amherst squad, the Continentals were able to rely on their go-to saying (and question) to help them rebound on Monday with a double-digit win against Cazenovia.

In addition to a special phrase, the Continentals have also received some important contributions from their underclassmen, specifically junior Peter Hoffmann and sophomore Kena Gilmour. Both student-athletes are the squad’s top two scorers – they have also been instrumental on controlling the glass on defense, too.

“When you were looking at us coming in out of the offseason, you were going to look at Kena Gilmour and Pete Hoffman as our two guys,” said Stockwell.  

“Pete was second-team all-league last year as a sophomore - he was the only sophomore to get recognition that way and Kena was Rookie of the Year, so those two guys are incredibly athletic, both multi-level scorers and then Kena has continued to take a lot of the pressure or tension from the other team and continue to score this season.”

Both players will certainly be counted on down the stretch, especially in the team’s final seven games. And you can bet they will be asking their teammates the ongoing question of ‘why not’ to keep them motivated.

The question – or again, phrase – will certainly be critical for helping the team pick-up its next conference win. This week, they travel to Maine for a pair of games against Bowdoin and Colby before making the trek to Bates and Tufts one week later.

Last season, Hamilton struggled against all four teams, going 1-4 overall – they lost to Tufts twice, both in the regular season and conference tournament, but one has to wonder if they were asking each other the ongoing question of ‘why not’ one year ago?  

“It’s something that we talk about on a regular basis now,” said Stockwell of the team’s motivational saying. “(We ask) why aren’t we having the best practice today? Why can’t it be the best practice? Why can’t it be the best game? Why can’t we get better today?

“They have embraced that, they have had fun with it and it is just one of those things that’s clicked, but that part as really started with the guys.”

While it may sound simple, the ongoing phrase or quotes of ‘why not’ has been the driving force behind an exciting run for these Continentals, who certainly hope it will lead them to more success next month and hopefully in March, too.

Extra, extra from New England

It has been an exciting few days for a trio of women’s basketball programs that witnessed three student-athletes eclipse the 1,000-point mark so a congratulation is due to the following student-athletes: Kennedy Guest-Pritchett (Smith), Olivia Bolden (Albertus Magnus) and Emily Irwin (Curry).

Last Saturday, Regis women’s basketball coach Angela Santa-Fe earned her 100th career head coaching victory as the Pride defeated Suffolk. Santa-Fe is the tenth coach of the program – she began coaching the Pride during the 2013-14 season.

With a 72-34 win over Hamilton last Saturday, the Amherst women’s basketball team established a new program-record of 51 consecutive wins. As noted in last Saturday’s release, the Mammoths have not lost a game since March 19, 2016. Amherst is currently 18-0 overall and 4-0 in NESCAC play, and will host an important conference clash on Saturday against Bowdoin College. The Polar Bears are also 18-0 and have won four conference tilts, too.

Just a thought: Endicott-Nichols men’s basketball is becoming a rivalry in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. These teams always play great games, so if you’re free Wednesday, make sure to tune in.

Here is another thought: Don’t sleep on the St. Joseph’s (Maine) women’s basketball team. They enter this weekend’s clash against Suffolk riding an impressive 15-game winning streak. On Monday, they scored an impressive non-conference win over University of New England. They’re my pick to win the Great Northeast Athletic Conference next month.

Anna Maria’s Mike Rapoza was named this week’s Worcester Area College Basketball Association Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. Last week, he recorded three double-doubles and now has 13 on the season. 

Matt Noonan

Matt Noonan is the head editor and founder of NoontimeSports.com, a New England Division III college sports blog that covers basketball, football and lacrosse. Noonan's work has been featured on ESPN.com, BostonLax.net, VentureFizz.com and Patch.com, and has appeared in the Boston Globe, along with other digital and print outlets. No stranger to Division III, Noonan spent time as an Athletics Communications Assistant and Sports Information Assistant at MIT, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Wheaton College, and was recently an Associate Producer at Lax Sports Network where he oversaw a trio of weekly shows, while assisting producers, on-air talent, production assistants and directors with daily programming. Noonan graduated from Wheaton College in May 2010 -- Go Lyons! -- and currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.