Michael Nicholson ’15
The Hampden-Sydney Basketball Team has had a tremendous season, boasting 16 wins and just two losses—with big wins over teams such as Emory and Henry, Methodist, Piedmont, Johns Hopkins, Washington and Lee, Randolph-Macon, and many others so far this season.
“Our expectations are to finish as strong as we have started. The ODAC is arguably the best basketball conference in the country and winning down the stretch will be extremely difficult. Our goals remain the same, which are to focus each day on getting better, hopefully win the ODAC championship and play in the NCAA’s,” said Coach Dee Vick
“I like where we are at this point. We have had some guys step up and accept larger roles this year. Khobi Williamson and Keegan Wetzel are the first two that come to mind. They are eager to improve and have put in the effort each day. They are producing on the court both offensively and defensively which has significantly helped our team win some big games,” Coach Vick continued.
The team takes a day-by-day and game-by-game approach not knowing what kind of game the opposing team will play.
“We prepare for each game the same way. In the ODAC, you can’t look ahead. Every night it is going to be a battle. This past week, Bridgewater won at Randolph Macon and W&L beat Guilford. It didn’t surprise me at all. Records don’t matter down the stretch in conference play. It is late in the season and we are in the ‘The Grind.’ All teams have guys who are sick, battling soreness and injuries and you just have to suck it up and compete. Regardless of talent, the tougher team usually wins,” said Coach Vick.
This attitude also translates into a rigorous practice schedule.
“We practice between 1-2 hours a day. We work on our full court man to man defense, half court D, rebounding, offensive execution, shooting, passing, situations, set plays, inbound plays and many other areas of we feel we need to improve,” said Coach Vick.
Coach Vick plans to continue on the same path by using the same strategies that have proven to be successful throughout the course of the season.
“We have had some success pressing people full court. We like to press people to try and force turnovers. We force 21.1 turnovers per game and it can lead to easy baskets. It also forces teams to play our pace. We think we have a more talented and deeper bench than most of our opponents. By pressing, we can wear them down over a forty-minute game. Our guys understand if they play our way then they can only play for 4-5 minutes at a time. We have to trust our teammates will increase the intensity when they sub in and the process over time will wear down our opponents. We are also working hard to improve our half court offense. Occasionally we play teams with guards who we can’t turnover and on those nights we have to be able to execute better in the half court,” said Coach Vick.
Kodie Critzer has been a valuable role player, averaging 5.9 points per game and shooting 48% from the field.
“Typically we see teams at about the 10 minute mark in the 2nd half run out of gas. Our depth takes over and teams get loose with the ball, which leads to our easy baskets. Playing fast is entertaining and fun, but it is also demanding. It is a commitment that we are still in the process of finding every player has to be 100 % committed to the style,” continued Coach Vick.
The Hampden-Sydney Basketball team’s Khobi Williamson and Harrison George were recently featured on Sports Center’s Top Ten.
“It was exciting for Khobi to be featured on Sports Center. The pass was equally as impressive from Harrison. Both were on Sports Center last year so I don’t think it swelled up their heads too much,” said Coach Vick.
The Macon game was a big win for the Tigers. This win marked the second straight win over Randolph-Macon. The Macon game also received one of the biggest crowd turnouts in a long time. The students’ energy and enthusiasm was unmistakable.
“The Macon game was AWESOME! It was by far the biggest crowd we have had over the last five years. The student’s energy was incredible! It was a huge factor in the game. RMC shot 1-7 from the foul line in the first half facing our student section. That is 14 percent! Two of those FT’s were 1 and 1, which could have been 10 additional points if they shot 100 percent. In the second half, RMC shot 13-16 from the foul line, which is 81.2 percent. We won the game by 10. Without the student support, we might not have won the game. Macon is extremely talented and to beat them a second straight time is exciting,” said Coach Vick.
“I would like to add that this team is our seniors’ team. We have five seniors: Alex Potapov, Patrick Corrigan, Randall Ward, Harrison George and Fletcher Lumpkin. These guys trusted H-SC and our staff five years ago when they committed to come play basketball here. They have worked hard and it hasn’t always been easy. These guys have persevered through some tough times and through it all we have stayed together. A bond has been formed that will last a lifetime. Each one of these seniors has brought different unique traits to our team that make us go. They are leaving the program in better shape compared to when they got here. Four years ago we were scratching and clawing at going .500 and finishing in 7th place. Four ODAC teams when to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen that year. We had to recruit better and improve quickly while the ODAC was competing at its highest level. These guys worked hard in the off-season, helped recruit future teammates and have worked hard in practice to put us in a position to have a special season. I hope the students will come out on Senior Day to send them off with hopefully a big win over Virginia Wesleyan on Feb 13th,” said Coach Vick.