Bates will rely upon junior forward Rob Stockwell's inside and outside skills in the 2005-06 season.
The Bates College men's basketball team had the most wins in team history last year, going 19-8 and advancing to the NESCAC Tournament Final for the first time in school history. The Bobcats began the season on a tear, opening with eight consecutive wins, including wins in the Brandeis Tip-Off Tournament, the UMass-Boston Tournament and the Norwich University Tournament. The team captured the CBB title by beating rivals Bowdoin College and Colby College on back-to-back nights in January, and finished the regular season with a dramatic home win at the buzzer against Trinity College.
Entering the NESCAC Tournament as the third seed, the Bobcats beat Williams College for the second time that season in the quarterfinals and in doing so became one of only five teams to advance to the tournament semifinals in consecutive years in the five-year history of the tournament. In the tournament semifinals against Tufts University, the Bobcats avenged a loss to the Jumbos three weeks earlier with a 60-54 win to advance to the tournament final for the first time in school history. Bates fell to top-seeded host Amherst College in the conference championship game, 65-57.
In Jon Furbush, Brian Gerrity, Elliot Linsley and Victor Rivera, Bates graduated the four players who made up the winningest class in Bobcat history, with 66 victories in their four seasons. Combined, the group averaged more than 33 points and 16 rebounds last season. Furbush started all 27 games and was fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding, while leading the team in 3-pointers made. Linsley, a three-year starter, led the conference in field goal percentage at .658 and led the team in blocked shots and was second in rebounds. Gerrity, another three-year starter, finished his career with 1,209 points, averaging in double figures each of the last three seasons. Rivera averaged more than 12 minutes a game as a reserve.
The Bobcats seek their sixth consecutive winning season under head coach Joe Reilly, a feat that has never occurred in school history. The focus will once again be on defense and rebounding to set up an up-tempo offense.
Senior center Matt Chudomel (Wellfleet, Mass.) and guard Sean Cahill (Worcester, Mass.) bring a wealth of experience and veteran leadership to the team, and both figure to step into starting roles this season. Chudomel has averaged more than 11 minutes per game in his three seasons and will be counted on to anchor Bates’ rebounding and interior defense. Cahill looks to build upon his play at the end of last season, which Reilly called "instrumental" to the team's postseason run. One of the team's best defenders, Cahill will play significant minutes in a greatly expanded role this year.
Returning starters Zak Ray (Bangor, Maine) and Rob Stockwell (Temple, N.H.) highlight a deep junior class that will be counted on to play a large role in the team's success. Stockwell will pose an inside-outside threat for opponents after leading the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) last season, ranking ninth and sixth, respectively, in the NESCAC in those two categories and earning recognition as second-team All-NESCAC and third-team D3hoops.com All-Northeast Region.
Ray was 15th in the NESCAC in scoring (12.2 ppg), third in steals (2.2 spg), fourth in assists (5.2 apg) and fifth in assist to turnover ratio (2.41-1). Ray led the conference in free throw percentage (.826) and was also named second-team All-NESCAC and second-team D3hoops.com All-Northeast Region.
Junior forward Sam Taylor (Redwood City, Calif.), voted the team's Most Improved Player last season by his teammates, will be counted on to play significant minutes in the post. Defensive specialist John Lattimer (Atlanta, Ga.) will have the opportunity to contribute from his guard position. Damon McGinn (Thetford, Vt.) missed the entire 2004-2005 season due to injury but made a strong contribution as a freshman and figures to be a regular in Reilly’s rotation.
Three sophomore guards look to step up and help replace the backcourt scoring lost to graduation. Brian Wholey (Marshfield, Mass.) looks to build on a rookie season in which he was fifth on the team in field goal percentage (.427) and second in three-point percentage (.373). Eric Shone (Portland, Maine) is also a promising scoring threat on the outside and Pat Halloran (Plymouth, N.H.) will also compete for minutes in a talented backcourt rotation.
First-years Thomas Kothe (South Paris, Maine), Scott Place (Bridgewater, Mass.), Ben Thayer (Gorham, Maine) and Mark Westhuis (Singapore) make up a deep recruiting class that will be counted on to develop into dependable contributors.
The schedule for the upcoming season promises to test the team early. Preseason foes William Patterson, against whom the Bobcats will open the season Friday night at the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Tournament, Trinity University, Colby-Sawyer, and Plymouth State will all provide challenging matchups before the perennially difficult NESCAC season begins.