Welcome back! Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day on Monday. Thought I’d check in with another post as we head into the month of June! I said I would take a look at some schedules that have already been released, so here you go!
One of the first complete 2023-24 schedules I found was that of Berry College. Coming off a 16-11, 8-6 SAA season, the Vikings are seeking improvement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are firmly in the SAA title race once we hit mid-February. I have not had a chance to confirm what their roster will look like, but at first glance, this is a team that will bring back three of its top five scorers from a year ago, and its top rebounder in Elly Callihan, who was just a freshman last season.
Getting to the schedule, this one is well put together. Berry is more or less an “island” team in that they are somewhat geographically isolated from the bulk of D-III programs in the midwest and northeast. Highlighting the slate is a trip to New York City Dec. 19-20 for the “New York Shootout”. I anticipate this will be hosted at NYU’s brand-new state-of-the-art gym. We’ll see.
I also liked the fact that they will be at the Emory Tip-Off Classic in Atlanta Nov. 18-19, as that event always draws a good out-of-region team or two, along with Emory itself. Playing Guilford at home on Dec. 30 could be an RRO opportunity for Berry.
Calvin’s 2023-24 schedule also dropped last week. This is an exciting one, for a number of reasons. One, even without Gabby Timmer, I anticipate being very much in the fight for the MIAA title with Trine and Hope, as usual. Two, there is a massive opportunity for some significant RRO wins within the non-conference slate.
There are actually only three real opponents listed so far…but we do know that the Lake Forest Tournament, DePauw Tournament, and Trine Classic will all bring in top quality competition. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see four or more RRO opportunities over the span of those six games, especially at the Trine Classic (Dec. 19-20). We do know Calvin will play UW-Whitewater on Nov. 25, just before MIAA play tips off against Trine. The matchup with Whitewater could be interesting, as the games played just after Thanksgiving tend to be slightly unpredictable.
Matchups with Hope will be Dec. 9 (@ Hope, 7 PM) and Jan. 27 (@ Calvin, 3 PM).
Though I know most schedules are set well in advance of the conclusion of the previous season, it is often interesting to see if coaches try to put tougher opponents on the slate to boost SOS or results vs RROs after being left out of the national tournament.
This likely wasn’t intentional, because again, schedules for the upcoming season are usually determined before a team is ever left out of the tournament field, but I’d guess that Washington & Jefferson will have a better SOS in 2023-24. They did play Marietta and Ohio Northern last season, but this year, they’re going to get 2 of the 3 of Ohio Wesleyan, Carnegie Mellon, and Pitt-Greensburg to open the season at home, followed by Marietta at home, and two games at the Otterbein Tournament. The PAC will be a wide-open league this year, and more than likely a one-bid league. But W&J is putting itself in a good position early with a chance for some RRO wins before Christmas.
Those are three that caught my eye this week. I have a full running list of released schedules and I’ll be sure to mention a few more in a post next week!
The coaching carousel also continued spinning in the early part of this week. Somewhat hard to keep track of all the moving parts and pieces, but we have a few head coaching vacancies along with a handful of hires announced.
Starting with the hires…
Wilmington (OAC): Hired Sydney Moss after she helped the Quakers to a 14-12 record, one of the best marks in recent years, as the program’s lead assistant. Last season was her first year at Wilmington, though she served in the same capacity at Thomas More for two years prior.
Colby Sawyer (GNAC): Brought Tim Viola on board as head coach after he spent portions of the last six years as an assistant at D-II Assumption. Assumption reached the Elite Eight this past year with a 27-6 record. Viola takes over a GNAC program that went 9-17 in 2022-23.
Lakeland (NACC): Tabbed Ashley Lona, an assistant from Redlands, as the program’s next head coach. Lona has experience coaching at all three levels of the NCAA. She replaced Amber Peterson, who is now an assistant at D-II Augustana (S.D.).
Greensboro (USA South): Heather Macy, USA South Coach of the Year this past season, will leave the D-III ranks for a head coaching job at D-II Barry in Miami. This past year, Greensboro went 18-0 in conference play, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
Southwestern (SCAC): I have confirmed that Greta Gritti is no longer head coach at Southwestern in Texas. D3Ticker was first to report it. Gritti had led the program for the last seven seasons and posted a 9-15 record this past year.
Immaculata (Atlantic East): This was announced last week, but Immaculata alum Chrissy Rhine has stepped down as head coach. She will remain as the school’s Executive Director of Admissions. In 2021-22, Rhine led Immaculata to the program’s first NCAA Tournament, after finishing with an 8-4 record in AEC play.
To end this, I thought I’d mention a piece of NCAA legislation that has the potential significantly impact the world of D-III basketball. No longer is Oct. 15 the first time teams can get on the floor to practice. Now, eight days will be allocated to be used either between September and Oct. 15 OR following the season. I would imagine coaches can split those eight days up between the preseason and postseason as well. But thinking about the effect of this on the preseason, multiple coaches have said that it will allow for the team chemistry to form earlier, and help newcomers get adjusted to their new team’s style of play quicker. It will be interesting to follow the positive effects that may come about in part due to these additional eight days.