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Men's Basketball Set to Face Nebraska Wesleyan In NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals

Men's Basketball Set to Face Nebraska Wesleyan In NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals

FINAL FOUR GAME NOTES (.pdf)

Salem, Va. - March 15, 2018 - The Springfield College men's basketball team will face Nebraska Wesleyan in the NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals on Friday night at 7:30 in the Salem Civic Center.

The game will be broadcast on NCAA.com, with Lincoln Rose and Dave McHugh on the call.

The Birthplace
Springfield College is known as the "Birthplace of Basketball", a game created by alumnus and faculty member James Naismith under the founding head of the Physical Education department Luther Gulick Jr. in 1891.  Inside a gymnasium at Springfield College (then known as the International YMCA Training School), a group of restless college students were required to participate in indoor activities to burn off the energy that had been building up since their football season ended. 

Local Talent
The Springfield College starting five consists of players hailing from three states (CT, MA, RI) and are an average distance of 44.5 miles away from the Birthplace of Basketball. Three of Springfield's starters grew up close to campus with Andy McNulty (West Springfield) being 8 miles away, Cam Earle (South Haldey) 16 miles, and Jake Ross (Northampton) 20 miles away from Alden Street.  Check out this feature on MassLive.com on the local talent that Springfield's roster boasts.
 
Under the Radar
In 13 D3hoops.com National Polls this season, Springfield College received a total of one vote the entire year. This season Springfield has defeated a team in the Top 25 or receiving votes for the poll on eight different 
occasions, including:
Nov. 21 Keene St. (RV) W, 73-67
Dec. 31 #14 Wesleyan (Conn.) W, 72-67
Jan. 17  at #9 MIT  W, 68-65
Feb. 10   #12 MIT    W, 69-62
Mar. 2 vs. Albright (RV) W, 88-86
Mar. 3  at #22 Cabrini  W, 96-88
Mar. 9 vs. #13 Hamilton W, 92-90
Mar. 10 at #14 Swarthmore  W, 72-64
 
Back In The Dance
Receiving one of 21 at-large bids from across the country, this is the sixth time that head coach Charlie Brock has led the Pride to the NCAA Championship. Springfield advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2000, reached the second round in 2005, hosted a first round game in 2013, and played in a first round game in 2014 and 2015.  Springfield entered this year's tournament with an 18-8 record and had won 14 of its last 17 contests entering the postseason.  
 
Coaching on the National Stage
Head coach Charlie Brock has been a college basketball coach for 38 years and has nine NCAA Division III Tournament appearances with three schools (Gustavus Adolphus, Trinity (TX), and Springfield).  He was a member of the Springfield College men's basketball team and graduated in 1976.  Ironically, Brock's first ever NCAA Tournament game on the sidelines came in the 1986-87 NCAA National Tournament, when Gustavus knocked off Nebraska Wesleyan, 70-59.
 
Back in Salem
For head coach Charlie Brock, Salem has been a familiar destination for a number of  reasons outside of coaching his team throughout his career.  A leader within the NABC, Brock has been recognized with the NABC Guardian of the Game Award for Advocacy for his commitment to the sport of basketball over the course of his career.  He has served as the chair of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee in 2009 and has been instrumental in implementing the NABC Reese's All-Star Game.
 
Regular Season Champions
The Pride hosted the NEWMAC Championship for the first time in program history.  The Pride finished the regular season with a 12-2 mark in conference play, marking their most NEWMAC regular-season wins in program history, as it earned its first-ever outright NEWMAC regular-season title. 
 
Springfield's Ironman 
In the midst of a standout sophomore season in which he's helped lead the Springfield College men's basketball team back to the NCAA Division III Championship, Jake Ross  was named the NEWMAC Men's Basketball Athlete of the Year as well as the NEWMAC Men's Basketball Co-Defensive Athlete of the Year.  Ross has elevated his play on the national stage thus far through the tournament. The reigning National Rookie of the Year ranks third in the country in points (747), 13th in total steals (70), and has played all but three seconds in Springfield's four NCAA tournament games this year. In the NCAA Tournament, Ross is averaging 28.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.5 steals, while shooting 60% from 3-pt range. 
 
Lights Out on the Big Stage
Through four games played in the NCAA Tournament, the Pride have recorded a three-point shooting percentage of 51%. Each player to shoot at least one three pointer in this Final Four run is shooting above 43%. The Pride are also shooting 50% from the field and are outrebounding their opponents by an average of five boards per game. The impressive three-point shooting is led by:
Cam Earle - 15-33 (45.5%)
Jake Ross - 12-20 (60%)
Andy McNulty - 11-20 (55%)
Brandon Eckles - 5-11 (45.5%)
Heath Post - 3-7 (42.9%)
 
Getting to the Stripe
Springfield College men's basketball has been able to seal victories by excellent free throw shooting. Against Cabrini the Pride went 12-of-15 from the line in the final two minutes, including a key stretch where senior guard Andy McNulty was able to hit five crucial free throws to close out the win. Again in the Sweet 16, Springfield was able to hold off Hamilton in overtime due to made free throws from Earle and McNulty. To advance to the Final Four, the Pride showed their focus once again by hitting 7-8 from the free throw line down the stretch versus Swarthmore. Overall, the Pride have both taken and made 33 more free throw attempts than their opponents and are shooting 75% from the line. 
 
Regional Honors
Much in part to their impressive postseason run, the Springfield men's basketball team been recognized for their success. Jake Ross has added several honors to his already loaded resume, and hus far, has been named First Team All- ECAC, NABC, and All-Region for the Northeast. The sophomore was also awarded Northeast Player of the Year by D3hoops.com. Head Coach Charlie Brock has coached his team to the first Final Four berth in school history, resulting in Brock being named Northeast Coach of the Year by D3hoops.com. He received this honor for the first time in his career.
 
A Successful 2017-18 at Springfield College
This academic season has proven to be a very successul one so far for the Springfield College athletic department.  The football team went 10-0 in the regular season for the third time in program history, led by Jordan Wilcox, who was a finalist for the Gagliardi National Player of the Year award.  The men's soccer team rattled off a 15-1-3 record and won their first-ever NCAA Division III Championship contest, the women's soccer team repeated as ECAC Division III Champions, the track and field teams had a pair of All-America runners in Alabama last weekend, and the men's volleyball team has been the No. 1 ranked team in the country for the last 24 national polls dating back to last year.  As a department, Springfield's 700-plus student-athletes collectively acheived a grade point average of 3.33 in the fall semester.