ODACcess: The Sting of Defeat (Emory and Henry @ Lynchburg)

LYNCHBURG, Va. — If an overmatched team is going to defeat a superior opponent in basketball, the underdog must generally do three things well. The team must rebound well, especially on the defensive end; it must shoot threes often and efficiently; and it must do whatever voodoo it has to do to make Lady Luck go its way. It’s when all three click that you see the middling squad’s fans storming the court after taking down the undefeated team in February.

Of course, when a team gets the formula wrong, games can get really, really ugly. So was the case the last time we saw Emory and Henry at Guilford two weeks ago. Sensing that they needed threes to compete with the then-undefeated-in-conference Quakers, the E&H Wasps jacked up 30 three-point attempts. But their shooters were off, to say the least–they made just 7 of those 30 tries, and missed 15 in a row at one point–and they ended up losing by 22 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

Wednesday night in Lynchburg, though, was a different story. Just like the last time we saw them, the Wasps entered the night winless in the ODAC at 0-8. The Lynchburg Hornets, meanwhile, were tied for third in the conference at 6-2 and had won four in a row. This one shouldn’t have been a contest. But the Wasps were hungry.

Emory and Henry came out firing from beyond the arc just as they had in the Guilford game, but this time they were connecting at a solid clip. Malcolm Green, in particular, was on fire in the first half, connecting on 3-of-4 attempts from three and adding a midrange jumper to post 11 points in just 12 minutes of action.


Despite having a moderate size disadvantage, the Wasps were also strong on the defensive glass, conceding just two Lynchburg offensive boards in the frame. They finished the half on a 7-2 run and took the lead, 38-35, into the locker room.


Taking one off coach Hillary Scott’s team at home wouldn’t be that easy, though, as the Hornets came out of the break with purpose. Kevin Anzenberger knocked down a triple for E&H to opening the second half scoring, but Lynchburg ripped off 10 of the next 12 points to take back the advantage. The teams traded buckets for a few minutes until Lynchburg seemingly started to pull away, as four layups and a pair of free-throws game LC its largest lead of the night at 64-51.

But E&H refused to go away. Anzenberger followed up a three-ball with a contested layup before Brett Pearmann launched into his own five-point swing to keep it close. A few minutes later, Green hit his fourth trey of the evening to make it a four-point game.

At this point, the once-rowdy LC crowd went silent. No more WWE-style chants, no more resounding applause and laughter for the little kid dancing in rhythm to the rap blasting out of the PA system. When Green swished his fifth triple, pulling the Wasps within one at 74-73 with 25 seconds to play, the only mood in the air was tension.


LC’s Zach Burnett made 1-of-2 FTs to push the lead to two, and Emory and Henry moved down the floor with a chance to tie or take the lead. One Wasp had a open lane in the paint, but his attempt to drop it off on the baseline was mishandled. Fortunately for them, it kicked off a Hornet and out of bounds. E&H ball, 5.6 ticks to go.

We assumed at that moment that Wasp coach David Willson would get the ball in the sharpshooter Green’s hands for the final shot, and he did. But Green’s 5-footer careened off the side of the rim, Lynchburg’s Alex Graves pulled down the board, and he hit both freebies to put it away.

Emory and Henry understandably looked glum as they slowly went to the locker room, but they should take solace in the fact that they played hard against a much better team and almost pulled out their first conference win. We visit Emory on February 8th, and maybe we’ll get the chance to see them their first victory at home. After a game like this, they certainly deserve to win one this year.

Lynchburg, meanwhile, is now 7-2 in the ODAC, but its next three games are huge tests as they host Va. Wesleyan before traveling to Hampden-Sydney and Randolph-Macon. For the Hornets, it’s their chance to show whether they’ll be a serious team to reckon with come tournament time.


PROGRAMMING NOTE: Hopefully you all are listening to it already, but ODACcess will be on the D3hoopsville Super Show TONIGHT at 6:00 p.m. EST. Tune in for talk about the conference and our journeys, and while you’re at it please consider donating to the Hoopsville Fundraising Project.

  • Final: Lynchburg Hornets 77 (14-4, 7-2 ODAC), Emory and Henry Wasps 73 (2-16, 0-9)
  • Player of the Game: Manny Hernandez (LC) (21 points)
  • Relive the game from our seats: check out our photos on Flikr and our @ODACcess livestream on Storify
  • Mileage Tracker: 1743 miles
  • Next Stop: Roanoke at Eastern Mennonite, January 29

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 8

BOOM! That sound sound you may have heard Sunday night or Monday morning was me blowing up most of my Top 25 ballot. Too many teams lost, I had too many questions about a lot of the teams, and things weren’t adding up. There was no way I could shuffle teams around without blowing up the ballot and taking a look at the data again and putting teams in order by what the new data coupled with what I was thinking revealed.

Well… I didn’t fully blow up the ballot. I didn’t even think to change my first place vote and I debated for awhile, but then didn’t change my second place team. After that… it was nearly a complete overhaul. I did keep teams around the area they had been, but moved teams up and down far more willingly then I normally would.

The result… I reshuffled the deck and made some hard decisions. I ended up cutting four teams from my Top 25 even though at least three of them deserved to stay in the poll. I brought in new teams and not just at the bottom, but placed a few midway up the poll. I dropped some teams pretty far despite just one loss while barely moving some others. I raised a couple of teams far higher than I expected before looking at more of the data. And ultimately I gave myself a new perspective.

As you know from previous blogs, I am known for blowing up my ballot a couple of times of year. This may tie for the latest in the year I have made the harsh decision, but it had to be made.

Besides wins, losses, and recent results, I also considered supposed SOS numbers and a version of the RPI that our friend KnightSlappy (alias on the D3boards) puts together. We won’t know if the math is dead on per what the NCAA will have until later next month, but it still gave me an idea of how team’s schedules stack up against one another and how they are doing in their regions. To be honest, I was surprised by some schools who had far higher numbers than I expected (Amherst, Dickinson, Wesley) and others whose numbers shocked me for as low as they were (Williams, Wittenberg). I also considered injuries, traveling or at home, other circumstances.

A quick reminder, here is Week 7’s ballot, before the carnage. And here is a look at this week’s:

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)
Until the Pointers are knocked off, I am not going to change my mind. They continue to win in the very difficult WIAC and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do take a loss with UW-Whitewater still to play, but they are the best team in the country right now.

2 – Cabrini (Unchanged)
I seriously thought about moving the Cavaliers down especially with an SOS of .465, but their RPI is .599 and they haven’t lost a game. A big test against Wesley coming up next week, so I really won’t be sure I am comfortable with Cabrini at number two until then.

3 – Amherst (Up 5)
The Lord Jeffs numbers surprised me. Despite two losses (one to a Division III opponent in Emerson), Amherst has an SOS of .600. That is a surprising number to me considering the Lord Jeffs didn’t exactly challenge themselves to start the year. They chalked up their second win over Williams this past week and it was convincing. Amherst may be better than I was giving them credit for in the last few weeks.

4 – WPI (Unchanged)
The Engineers were another team that I thought I was maybe giving too much credit despite the fact they were seemingly playing so well without one of their best players all season. Their numbers were not shockingly good, thus why Amherst moved ahead of them, but they continue to play very good basketball and lead a deep NEWMAC by two games.

5 – Wooster (Down 2)
I didn’t know what to think of the Scots loss to DePauw. That was the second time the Tigers had beaten a ranked opponent in ten days – both of which away games for the ranked teams – and I didn’t expect Wooster to go through the conference slate unblemished. However, I thought they would have made sure to get past DePauw after already seeing them beat Wittenberg. Wooster also had strong numbers which helped offset my gut of moving the Scots down further. And when I thought about it, Wooster does seem like a Top 5 team at the moment.

6 – Illinois Wesleyan (Down 1)
Tough loss for the Titans. Carthage is clearly take no prisoners team of the CCIW this season and tripped up visiting IWU. 15-3 is a good mark overall, but the 5-2 at this point in the conference slate is surprising to me for the Titans. They have strong numbers and I really think this is a top tier program that has a real shot at making the trip to Salem. They just need to button some things up in conference action.

7 – Wash U. (Up 3)
I haven’t been completely sold on the Bears this season, but two weeks ago they beat Brandeis and NYU easily and then followed that up by staying focused and rolling through Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon on the road. Their numbers didn’t shock me, but they were better than I expected (or maybe wanted to initially believe), so I felt comfortable with a big move up the poll. The Bears do have the challenging road trip of going to Rochester and then Emory this coming weekend, so they still bear some watching.

8 – Wesley (Up 5)
As the season has progressed, I have thought more and more that the Wolverines were going to be the real surprise of the season. They lose one of the best players in program history and are now turning in one of the best seasons ever. Wesley continues to take on all comers and beat them with a larger and larger target on their backs. And then I looked at their numbers: .583 SOS and .670 RPI – WOW! This is a team that usually doesn’t get that rewarded for their schedule, but the conference is really coming through this season and the Wolverines are playing better teams. Oh, and those numbers don’t take into account Cabrini who they will play on Monday. This could be one of the games of the year.

9 – UW-Whitewater (Down 3)
I know teams in the WIAC are going to surprise other teams, but I didn’t expect the Warhawks to lose to UW-Lacrosse. The only reason Whitewater didn’t fall further down my poll was because their SOS and RPI numbers are so strong. If not for that, I seriously thought about moving them down to maybe fifteenth because I am just not that sure they can compete with UW-Stevens Point for the top of the conference and thus make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

10 – St. Norbert (Up 1)

11 – St. Thomas (Down 5)
Yes, the Tommies lost to rival St. John’s (second time in three years) and they probably wouldn’t have fallen too far except there was a lot of moving and shaking going on. I think St. Thomas is a good squad once again this season, but the loss to St. John’s gives me concern they may not be completely in focus on the task at hand. They got back on their horse against Augsburg, but they still have a lot of MIAC games left to play.

12 – Mary Washington (Up 4)
The Eagles just won’t lose. Their two losses this season are to Hampden-Sydney and Wesley and they are playing better and better despite no longer being the underdog. Mary Washington is the biggest reason the CAC is probably one of the top ten conferences in the country this season.

13 – Augustana (Down 1)
They lost to Elmhurst which probably should have forced me to move them down further… but Elmhurst was a buzz-saw this week in the conference. Also, Augustana is probably one of the most talented teams for their youth in the country. Of course, how they respond to that loss could show if their youth is simply something we read on a roster. Better have short-term memory because North Central is looming.

14 – Williams (Down 5)
I just don’t think the Ephs are a Top 10 team… and Amherst showed me reasons to think that. Not only are injuries starting to become a problem, but they just aren’t a sound defensive team. I may have been giving Williams a bit too much credit up until this point and their numbers showed me something I didn’t expect. As good as Amherst numbers were, Williams were not on the same level (.515 SOS and .589 RPI). I am not even sure Williams is a Top 15 team, to be honest.

15 – Brockport State (Unranked)
Hello SUNYAC! I have been pushing Brockport State aside for many reasons including the fact the SUNYAC doesn’t blow my socks off as a conference. However, when your SOS is .578 and your RPI is .666, I’m the one being the devil by not including them in my Top 25. The Golden Eagles continue to win including roaring back to beat New Paltz this week. The only loss Brockport has suffered was the second game of the season to (now) undefeated SUNY Purchase. It seemed pretty obvious for Brockport to fly up my ballot.

16 – Messiah (Down 1)
I was going to ding the Falcons pretty hard for their last second loss to Hood. After all, it was their second loss in three games and despite Hood being a good team, Messiah should have put them away. However, Hood is major player now in the MAC Commonwealth and Messiah’s numbers are pretty solid (.549 SOS and .630 RPI). I like how Messiah plays the game and if they can secure the tight games down the stretch, they are going to be major player in the post season.

17 – Texas-Dallas (Unranked)
The Comets have only lost one game (as of the poll and voting) and are in control of the SCAC. Not sure why it took me this long to get Texas-Dallas onto my poll, but it might be because I have been looking elsewhere. Coach Terry Butterfield always has a team that plays well and has been a surprise around the country… I think this year people may have been looking the other way for too long.

18 – Bowdoin (Up 2)

19 – Oglethorpe (Down 5)
They lost to Centre worried me, not because Centre isn’t a good team, but because I am fearful the Stormy Petrels may get their wings clipped after flying too high too soon. Their SOS numbers are not that spectacular and the only reason they may not have fallen further was because I had them further up in my poll. However, the Centre loss was only their second of the season and the two losses are against teams who are a combined 24-10 – really can’t knock that in this second of the ballot.

20 – Ohio Wesleyan (Unranked)
The Battling Bishops are probably playing better than Coach Mike DeWitt expected this season – especially after a challenging start to the campaign. The biggest key, they are winning the games they are expected to win including against DePauw last week. I think the NCAC is a better conference especially in the last few weeks and could still have some surprises left in it with OWU maybe supplying some of them.

21 – St. Mary’s (Md.) (Up 2)
When I saw the Seahawks numbers my initial instinct was that I was right all along about this team and I better move them much further up the poll. After all, their SOS was .607 and their RPI was .634 – that’s on par with Amherst! However, I quickly reminded myself this St. Mary’s squad has lost four games this season with three of those losses to teams ranked higher and one to a team they shouldn’t have held home court against. I can’t move the Seahawks high up on the poll with those results (though, they got a very good result after the poll came out this week against Christopher Newport).

22 – DePauw (Unranked)
My gut after seeing the Tigers beat Wooster was to push them high up the poll like Brockport State and Texas-Dallas, but I had to temper myself. They beat a Wittenberg squad that may have peaked too early and they couldn’t beat an Ohio Wesleyan squad when the timing was ideal. DePauw has better numbers than Ohio Wesleyan, but I couldn’t move them ahead of the Battling Bishops due to the head-to-head. I am also concerned that DePauw has an unconscious let down after such a huge couple of weeks. Time will tell.

23 – Virginia Wesleyan (Down 6)
Every single time I buy in to the Marlins, they drop another games. Yes, that could simply the ODAC talking, but after last week’s run through the conference, I was hoping to see that trend continue. Instead, they drop a very important game to Randolph-Macon. Furthermore, their numbers weren’t that great: .515 SOS and .574 RPI. There are a lot of good teams in the ODAC and my gut tells me more teams should be on my ballot… and that leaving VWC on my ballot isn’t being fair to Guilford or others.

24 – Dickinson (Down 3)
After losing to sub-par F&M this week, I thought about pulling the Red Devils completely from my poll, but their numbers were actually better than I expected for playing in a bit of a down conference. I like how Dickinson plays the game and so I tempered my quick-trigger mentality… for at least this week.

25 – Whitworth (Unchanged)

Dropped out:

Stevenson (Previously 18)
The Mustangs blew two leads this past week including another massive advantage against Lycoming and a late lead in the game against Elizabethtown. Stevenson’s Achilles heel this season is holding onto leads and playing 40 minutes. I may have tried to ride the Mustangs a bit longer, but their SOS of .510 did not give me any reasons to keep them in my poll.

Wittenberg (Previously 19)
This was a hard decision. The Tigers have looked really good this season, but that might be because their competition hasn’t been that challenging. The Tigers have an SOS of .491! All of those blowout wins may have had an obvious reason to them. Yes, they didn’t lose any games this past week, but when Wooster and DePauw beat you in consecutive games and you had to come from behind to beat Ohio Wesleyan before that… the signs were there that maybe this team isn’t as good as they were perceived.

Calvin (Previously 22)
I told a friend that I had the Knights in my Top 25 after he asked because he thought they were a Top 25 team. I was confident I would keep them in my poll, but I just can’t ignore the .449 SOS and the RPI of .529. Rather, I would have ignored it if Calvin hadn’t lost four games this season with those kinds of numbers. Calvin could be the best team no one is appreciating, but I think they have to prove a lot while probably having to win the conference automatic qualifier to make sure they are in the NCAA tournament.

Dubuque (Previously 24)
Suffer your first loss of the season and you are unceremoniously dropped from the Top 25. It happens and I didn’t feel good about it, but their numbers don’t warrant them staying in the poll… which is also why it took so long for them to get into the Top 25 in the first place.

Other ballots:

Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 3
Week 1

ODACcess: Color Theory (Randolph-Macon at Roanoke)

SALEM, Va. — The Roanoke Maroons are oddly named, twice over. First and foremost, Roanoke College, which relocated to the Roanoke Valley in 1847, is located in Salem, not its twin city with which it shares a name. Admittedly, at the time of the College’s founding, Roanoke, Virginia did not exist, in its place a small settlement with the lovely name of Big Lick. Still, as the city of Roanoke grew into the largest in Southwest Virginia, the College’s location seemed illogical given the name.

Second, what on earth is a Maroon? The name calls back the taunts of Bugs Bunny, among others; an insult rather than a source of pride. But, like their much larger neighbor, Virginia Tech, Roanoke has embraced maroon as an identity, extending to Rooney, their maroon-tailed hawk mascot, which the College website vehemently states will never supplant “Maroons” as the name of the team.

The Project’s trip to Salem happened to coincide with a “Maroon Madness” doubleheader, with both the women’s and men’s teams facing the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets. Our purview does not extend to coverage of the women’s ODAC (although it is a highly competitive league in its own right), so we arrived for the second half of the double billing, and the C. Homer Bast Center was already host to a nice crowd of Maroon faithful, attracted by the promise of a free t-shirt, and a smattering of Jackets fans behind the R-MC bench.


But let’s backtrack for a second to set the scene. Take a right off of Interstate 81’s exit 140 in Virginia and you’ll enter a sleepy neighborhood worthy of a 90s family sitcom. A rust-brown road sign welcomes you to Salem by dutifully listing the local high school’s accomplishments, split roughly evenly between athletic feats (highlighted by several football and basketball state titles) and shows of scholastic prowess (six consecutive state championships in speech and debate). The road is divided by a grassy median dotted with trees. Drive for a bit and you’ll spot homes proudly displaying American flags and, at this time of year, the dark smoke of burnt wood escaping from the occasional chimney into an overcast winter sky.

Suddenly, the homes disappear and Roanoke College arises. The College’s campus shares many of the features of the surrounding area, most notably its large open-air quads, but the architectural design also provides a pleasant contrast. Each building utilizes a Collegiate Gothic style with brick as the overarching theme, yet the designers avoided monotony by adorning each building with a unique element: triangular arches, composite order columns, a variety of sconces, and even a dome reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol. Interestingly for our purposes, natural weathering of the Bast Center’s brick exterior tints the building with a reddish-chestnut hue, fitting for the home of the Maroons.

Those Maroons put up an impressive 6-2 record against a relatively soft slate of out-of-conference opponents, but their conference schedule has been anything but easy. Coach Moir’s group earned their first conference win last week against cellar-dweller Emory and Henry, and had to follow up against a resurgent Randolph-Macon team, shaking off some tough out-of-conference losses to take a share of first place in the conference. After a fairly dominating win over Roanoke in Ashland, the Jackets had a chance to maintain their recent hot streak, and possibly earn some respect from the national pollsters.

We settled into seats behind the scorers’ table, within earshot of the R-MC fans. And as the game got started, Roanoke played up to the home crowd. The Maroons played an excellent first half, jumping out to an early 15-9 lead, and keeping the game close throughout the first half, thanks to 52% shooting from the field. Star players Julian Ramirez and Daniel Eacho led the way for the Maroons, but they still trailed 31-27 at the break.


Despite the Maroons’ impressive effort throughout the half, the large crowd–with the notable exception of the adorable little girl who spent the half banging her feet on the bleachers just to our right–was surprisingly quiet. The Pep Band (an ODACcess Project first) never played a note during the first. Even the volunteers for the media timeout activities were less than enthusiastic (or non-existent; cross a PA announcer saying “this would have been a great contest if we had competitors” off our bucket list).


The RM-C fans, on the other hand, were full-throated in their support for the Jackets.

The early second half seemed likely to take what little wind was left in the fans’ sails. During the halftime break, we had moved to the other side of the gym, attempting to comingle with the student fans. They were becoming disheartened as the Jackets extended the momentum they had built in the first half, creating a 10 point advantage by the 11-minute mark. The Maroons shot poorly from the free throw line, allowing Randolph-Macon to build their lead.

But the Maroons were resilient. Led by Daniel Eacho, Roanoke went on a 17-6 run to take the lead with a little over four minutes remaining. During this time, the fans finally found their voice, and the Bast Center faithful finally drowned out the lingering cheers of the fans in black and gold. Roanoke had all the momentum going into the final stretch, and the fans felt it.

Unfortunately for them, Randolph-Macon proved why they were the preseason favorite in the conference. The Maroons’ one-point lead was not to last. The Jackets’ defense returned to form, nearly shutting out Roanoke from the floor in the last few minutes, while Andre Simon continued a great night, scoring four big points, and allowing Macon to polish off the victory at the free throw line.

This is not Roanoke’s season, clearly, after a number of tough losses. Still, we can hope the Maroons continue to give their fans something to cheer about.


  • Final: Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets 70 (13-4, 7-1 ODAC), Roanoke Maroons 57 (7-9, 1-7)
  • Player of the Game: Andre Simon (R-MC) (18 points on 13 shots; 14 rebounds)
  • Relive the game from our seats: check out our photos on Flikr and follow us on Twitter
  • Mileage Tracker: 1603 miles
  • Next Stop: Emory and Henry at Lynchburg, January 29

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 7

Last week I was on the verge of gutting my Top 25 and starting over. It is something I do a couple times a year and it certainly looked like I was heading down that road again, but then something strange happened: teams settled down and won games – at least in the top half of my ballot. What I did consider doing was blowing up the bottom half of my Top 25 and starting over there… but that will have ramifications on the top half. Meaning? If I was going to blow up the ballot, I had to do the entire thing. So I passed on the idea.

This week I readily thought I would have a lot of movement, but once again either teams didn’t back up a big win or didn’t exceed expectations. It isn’t like there weren’t any games that could make a case: if DePauw had beaten Ohio Wesleyan, Stevenson lost to Lycoming, Bowdoin beat Williams, Virginia Wesleyan lost either one of their games, etc. As a result, I actually introduced just one new team in my Top 25, though I have about ten serious contenders on the outside looking in right now.

So, let’s get to my ballot. As a reminder, here is my ballot from last week and thoughts I had on some of the teams then. There is one major downward move in this ballot that may surprise some people, but make sure you read the reasons why before you think I am being too harsh.

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)

2 – Cabrini (Unchanged)

3 – Wooster (Unchanged)

4 – WPI (Unchanged)

5 – Illinois Wesleyan (Unchanged)

6 – St. Thomas (Unchanged)

7 – UW-Whitewater (Unchanged)

8 – Amherst (Unchanged)

9 – Williams (Unchanged)

10 – Wash U. (Up 2)
The Bears got through their first significant challenge in the UAA schedule rather nicely. The game on Sunday against NYU was more of a test for the Violets than the Bears, but I still wanted to see how the Bears would handle the first two-game weekend of the conference season. I think they solidified a Top 10 spot as a result (NYU didn’t help any chance of me considering them for the Top 25).

11 – St. Norbert (Up 2)

12 – Augustana (Up 2)
I certainly considered moving the Vikings even further up my ballot, but there wasn’t much argument to slot them ahead of others right now. This is a very young team that is playing like veterans. I am really impressed with what Grey Giovanine has been able to do with this unit. And one tidbit to consider… every time Augustana takes an international trip during the summer (no more than once every three years by NCAA rules) they have turned that into very impressive seasons. Last time they finished 27-4 and lost in the elite eight to eventual national champions St. Thomas.

13 – Wesley (Up 2)
Here is another team I considered moving up higher after they beat St. Mary’s on the road. The Wolverines are taking everyone’s best shot and winning. What is even scarier is they are getting big wins on the road against the top teams in the conference. Meaning the likes of St. Mary’s and Christopher Newport still have to go to Dover, Delaware and play in Wesley’s rather tight and very home-friendly confines. Getting big wins on the road in the CAC while holding court at home is going to make a big difference for Wesley. Too bad that gym comes nowhere close to NCAA regulations for hosting tournament play.

14 – Oglethorpe (Up 2)

15 – Messiah (Up 4)
Yeah… this is a strange move, I will admit. The Falcons lost to Stevenson on the road in double-overtime and I moved them up in my poll. Normally most voters would at least move them down a couple of spots, but I had two factors at play. First, having seen Messiah in person, this team is a legitimate NCAA threat. They are very well disciplined, play incredible defense, move the ball swiftly and on point, and don’t back down. Messiah could get a chance to host games in the NCAA tournament, but proved they can go on the road and play tough as well. Messiah actually proved how good they were to me in a tough loss. And the other factor: so many teams in this area didn’t live up to expectations and someone had to fill the hole in this area.

16 – Mary Washington (Up 4)
The Eagles continue to play well and may be getting better as the season goes along. They haven’t had this good a record in a very, very long time and they don’t seem to have any major flaws in their game. However, they are in what has become one of the toughest and best years in Capital Athletic Conference history, so there is more to gauge this team by.

17 – Virginia Wesleyan (Up 8)
I pretty much expected the Marlins to split the week with Hampden-Sydney and Guilford on their schedule in a battle for the top of the ODAC, but instead Virginia Wesleyan beats HSC on the road (short drive down the interstate) and man-handles Guilford at home. The Marlins do have a tough road battle with Randolph-Macon this week, but Virginia Wesleyan may have risen up at just the right time to take control of the conference and their own destiny.

18 – Stevenson (Up 6)
I was a little worried for the Mustangs heading into the week. Not only did they have undefeated Messiah visiting, but they had a trap game in Lycoming to follow what win or lose would be an emotional game. Stevenson got the job done against probably the best team they have played this year in Messiah. While it wasn’t a dominating win at home, they gutted it out in a game that never saw a lead bigger than two possessions. Of course, against Lycoming they once again nearly blew a 20+ point lead and gave their fans a cardiac moment near the end. Stevenson is going to go as far as they will allow themselves to go. Honestly, they will lose when they beat themselves more than another team beating them. However, big win over Messiah pushes them up the poll.

19 – Wittenberg (Down 8)
It was a tough week for the Tigers. I don’t think I would have punished them that much for two losses in a tough stretch of NCAC games, except they got completely dominated in their game against DePauw. 46 total points for a team that has been playing so well. Then for most of the game against Wooster (on Wittenberg’s court) they were being dominated yet again. A great run to finish the game made the outcome more respectable, but Wittenberg didn’t do themselves any favors. Still have to play these teams and Ohio Wesleyan again and the second time around could be tougher than the first.

20 – Bowdoin (Down 1)

21 – Dickinson (Unchanged)

22 – Calvin (Unchanged)

23 – St. Mary’s (Md.) (Down 13)
They lose to ranked Wesley and plummet in the polls… doesn’t sound right, does it? The problem is St. Mary’s has now lost their second game of the season at home, lost to a team they have to play on the road near the end of the season, and racked up their fourth loss overall. I had a lot of faith in the Seahawks, but their weaknesses are clearly being exploited and four losses at this point means they have to button things up the rest of the way in the CAC or they could be out of NCAA contention. The other problem, where in the world do I put them higher up in the poll? Everyone above them except for Calvin has fewer losses; everyone above them is playing better basketball; everyone above them is taking care of their home court. I still think St. Mary’s is a dangerous team thanks to their experience, but they need to go on a run and gain some more confidence.

24 – Dubuque (Unranked)
If you are undefeated at this point in the season, I don’t care what conference you are in, you deserve to be recognized in the Top 25. Certainly their schedule is not something to cheer about, but it does include a win over Carthage. Who knows what IIAC truly has in store for the Spartans (Loras looming), but Dubuque is 15-0 with just ten games remaining. Could they be the dark horse of the West Region?

25 – Whitworth (Down 8)
I am losing confidence in the Pirates. They lost on the road to George Fox who I know is a good team, but I think the game showed more problems. Whitworth is not that deep off the bench, especially in the post position (where they go in trouble against UW-Stevens Point) and isn’t able to control the game like they want to. The real test will be Tuesday when Whitworth is on the road at Whitman. At this point I think the game is Whitman’s to lose.

Dropped out:
Wheaton (Ill.) (Previously 23)
Two losses are two losses, especially when you lose games you need to win to stay near the top of the CCIW. Carthage and Illinois Wesleyan dispatched the visiting Thunder leaving Wheaton 3-2 in the conference and 10-6 overall. Wheaton still has time to make up for lost ground, but they will have to do it on the road against Augustana to make waves.

ODACcess: A big man who does the little things (Lynchburg @ Washington and Lee)

“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale

LEXINGTON, Va. — Fans often develop powerful feelings towards their favorite athletes, particularly when those athletes exhibit qualities we wish to emulate. But to emotionally invest in an athlete is to open oneself to heartbreak if that athlete crashes down to earth. For example, while the passage of time has allowed us to become detached baseball observers and somewhat rationally debate the Hall of Fame candidacies of McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, and so forth, for those of us who idolized these players in their steroid-fueled primes it is hard to forget how crushed we felt when we learned they had cheated. Even more disheartening is the disgraced athlete who inspired us. Lance Armstrong gave hope to millions afflicted with cancer, but rather than standing as a symbol of triumphant victory over a terrible illness, today Armstrong is shorthand for modern-day, Greek-tragedy-level hubris.

In light of these scandals, it is reasonable (though unfortunate) that many of us have built an emotional firewall between ourselves and narratives about athletes overcoming adversity. We have been burned one too many times. When one encounters a truly inspiring athlete, then, the challenge to one’s carefully-developed emotional cynicism can be uncomfortable–at least at first.

This is the story of Washington and Lee captain Jim Etling. By the numbers, the 6-foot-7 junior is a pedestrian backup forward: 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game off the bench. His ODAC-leading 94.3% clip on free-throw attempts raises an eyebrow, particularly for a relative big man, but other than that Etling’s statistical output is unremarkable. The fact that he gets on the court at all should be remarkable, though, because Etling, who was not recruited out of high school and proved himself enough on the practice squad to make the team as a freshman, has epilepsy.


Now, we don’t want to oversell this. Etling himself played it down in his postgame interview, focusing more on his approach to balancing athletics with the rigorous academics at Washington and Lee than on the extra effort he has to take to manage his health. And at least some research has indicated that, rather than causing epileptic seizures as once assumed, contact sports may actually decrease seizure frequency for those at risk. However, the importance of Jim Etling to his team shines through in the words of Generals head coach Adam Hutchinson.

When ODACcess interviewed Hutchinson after the game, we began with the standard questions asked of a coach following a close loss. His replies were equally standard; for instance, he talked about how his team’s desire to win caused a few mistakes down the stretch, and how he was proud of them for really caring whether they win or lose. His answers were calm, professional, and measured. When we asked the coach what Etling means to the team, however, his dispassionate demeanor changed.

Hutchinson paused for several seconds to find the right words. “Jim’s one of those teammates that affects your heart when you watch him compete,” he began, in a slow but subtly passionate tone evidencing the truth, the real emotion, behind his words.

“He inspires me with his commitment to his teammates, with his work ethic, with his mental toughness. And you know, there’s a lot of guys who, when things are going right for them, or even right for the team, they’re–yeah, you want them with you. Jim’s a guy you want with you when stuff’s going wrong.”


As he continued Hutchinson’s body language became more expressive and his voice quickened, exuding a fervent earnestness. “He really believes in playing the game the right way. He is committed to doing it, and he does it. He does it without waver. First practice of the year, last practice of the year. Last minute of a game, first minute of a game. Jim Etling’s the same guy. He’s going to box out, he’s going to rebound, he’s going to communicate, take charges, et cetera.”

“Honestly, I think everybody on our team is probably well-served modeling themselves after Jim.” He smiled, pausing for effect. “And that includes our coaching staff.”

The coach made no mention of Etling’s condition. And for good reason: when a player–when a person–works so hard and contributes so many intangibles absent from the score sheet, while simultaneously being so unselfish, none of the background stuff should matter.

With under 15 seconds to play and the Generals trailing by six, Patrick O’Connor drove into the lane, drawing Lynchburg defenders into the paint before kicking it out to an open Etling beyond the arc. Etling–4-for-23 on three-point attempts entering the contest–swished his second trey of the afternoon on his second try. The Hornets were already in the double bonus, and so barring a quick steal or consecutive missed free-throws his shot wouldn’t end up affecting who won (and it didn’t). But you would never have known that from his teammates’ reactions. The bench rose in unison and the players on the court enthusiastically slapped high fives with Etling as he was subbed out. In a way, this result is more befitting of our story than a Hollywood ending where the challenged underdog comes out on top, because from what we can gather, for Etling the goal is process–methodical, intense, yeoman-like process–not just outcome.

Jim Etling will never be a professional basketball player, but he will be an example for those who value dedication over making excuses, even when the excuse would be perfectly understandable. In short, he is a role model, stats and cynicism be damned.


  • Final: Lynchburg Hornets 71 (11-4, 4-2 ODAC), Washington & Lee Generals 66 (5-10, 2-4)
  • Player of the Game: Drew Kimberly (W&L) (18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks)
  • Relive the game from our seats: check out our @ODACcess livetweets on Storify and our photos on Flikr
  • Mileage Tracker: 1363 miles
  • Next Stop: Washington and Lee at Roanoke, January 25