Men’s Basketball Preview

By Andrew Rigas

2013-14 record: 17-9

Captains: Dean Brierley ’15 & Hunter Merryman ’15

At first glance, it is easy to assume that this is a rebuilding year for the Middlebury men’s basketball team since it lost six seniors to graduation, including three-time all-NESCAC recipient and the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer Joey Kizel ’14. However, the team has exploded out of the gate en route to a 5-0 record to begin the season, and it is clear the Panthers have the potential to do much more than rebuild this year.

“I think replacing Joey starts with other people stepping up,” said senior captain Dean Brierley. “Our teams are always deep, so when one player graduates or gets hurt, we have someone who can step in and make an immediate impact. Our depth is one of our strengths, and we’re excited to have a very balanced contribution this year.” 

As Brierley says, the team returns plenty of talent from last year as four of the six leading scorers are returning to lead the Panther offense. Seniors Dylan Sinnickson and Hunter Merryman give the team valuable experience as returning starters. Fellow senior Chris Churchill has joined Sinnickson and Merryman in the starting frontcourt so far this season and provides size inside with his 6-9, 220-pound frame. 

In the backcourt, Jake Brown ’17 replaces Kizel in the point guard role, and Matt St. Amour ’17 rounds out the starting five at the shooting guard position as he returns from an injury sustained last winter. 

The Panthers also add four gifted first-year players to their already talented squad in Jack Daly, Jack Gale, Nick Tarantino and Adisa Majors.

While the Panthers are currently undefeated, it won’t be this simple for them all season. NESCAC play begins on Jan. 9 when they travel to Bates. Later that month, on Jan. 30, they hope to exact revenge upon a Williams squad that defeated them in the NESCAC semifinals last year. The team matches up against Amherst on Feb. 15 in its final regular season game for what it hopes to be an outstanding test and a final tune-up before a postseason run.