By Danny Priest
For the first time since the 2011-2012 season, the Springfield College men’s basketball team has started their season at 5-0.
On Tuesday night, the Pride hosted Becker and behind the usual strong outings from Jake Ross and Heath Post, Springfield was able to cruise to an easy 90-64 win.
The Pride played well on both ends of the court from start to finish. They ended the game shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 50 percent from three (10 makes), and they had 22 assists on 33 made field goals. Springfield also totaled eight steals and four blocks.
“I think a lot of it’s the leadership and we’ve been through things with this upper class and tonight would have been what they call a trap-game where you don’t come to play and you get in a dog-fight and somebody can come back to bite you,” Head Coach Charlie Brock said of the win that moved his team to 5-0.
“I don’t think these guys are going to let that happen, we’re not going to let a game slip away because we’re not ready to play. That’s a whole different situation than somebody comes in and beats you, then when you go to beat yourselves and I don’t think these guys are going to let that happen,” he said.
From the opening tip, Springfield came out of the gates ready to play. After Heath Post drained a three to start things off, Jake Ross went on his own personal 7-0 run to force a quick timeout from Becker less than three minutes into the game.
The run to start was a good preview of what the night would be like for the Pride. In the first half, Ross racked up a stat line that most players would dream of putting together in a single game.
The Northampton native amassed 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. He also threw down a thunderous dunk cutting down the middle of the lane off a nice find from Post.
Ross slowed down in the second half (as expected), but still went on to put together an eye-popping line of 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists to go with five steals.
As for Post, he continued what’s been an excellent start to the season. Coming into Tuesday night’s action, the big man had been putting up impressive averages of 20.0 points per game, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
Perhaps more impressive than his raw numbers are the percentages Post has been shooting. He entered at 51.7 percent from the field (14.5 attempts per game), 52.6 percent from three (4.8 attempts per game) and 86.7 percent at the line.
It feels as though every time the Pride have been in need of a bucket, Post has been there if Ross was not. He continued that on Tuesday putting up 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists on 9-12 shooting (2-2 from three).
““I wouldn’t say I’m doing anything specifically, I think my teammates are doing a great job at helping me get open and finding me when I am open,” Post said of his hot shooting to start the season.
“I would just say they’re making my life really easy and they’re doing a great job passing the ball and finding me when I’m making a cut or something. So, I wouldn’t say I’m doing anything myself, I’d say they’re doing everything for me,” he added.
As mentioned, Springfield has not been 5-0 to start a season since 2011-2012. Part of what has made Springfield so successful early in the season has been their potent offense.
Through five games the team is averaging 93 points per game and they are shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 43 percent from three, and 77.1 percent at the line.
The Pride’s lowest point output so far in a game has been their 87-point performance against Emmanuel last Saturday.
A large part of that has been Ross and Post of course, but the supporting cast has been getting more and more comfortable each game.
“It might of mattered four games ago who was starting, who was doing this, who was doing that, I think everybody’s kind of gotten into a rhythm of knowing when they’re going in and for whom and just keeping things rolling,” Brock said of his team.
“We’re playing nine, maybe 10 guys typically, consistently and they know when they’re playing and how much they’re going to play. We’re in a lot better rhythm than we were in the beginning of the season which is hopefully normal,” he added.
Springfield’s offense has been elite to begin the season, and as time goes on and chemistry improves, it should only get better.
All eyes on Ross
With his 32-point performance against Becker, Jake Ross now finds himself 24-points shy of tying Derek Yvon (‘06) all-time scoring record of 2,101 points.
The Pride do not play another game until December 4 when they host Trinity (Conn.) in a non-conference matchup. On that night, expect Blake Arena to be filled and all eyes to be on Ross as he approaches history.
On Tuesday, Ross was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Division III National Player of the week for the second time in his career. He was last given the honor on Jan. 23rd, 2018
Prior to the game against Becker, Ross was leading all of Division III in scoring at 34.8 points per game.
Ross had four double-doubles in five games this season, and twice he has fallen two assists shy of a triple double. In the three games Springfield played last week, he averaged 35 points per game, 12 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.6 steals, 1.6 blocks.
To say Ross has been getting it done on both ends would be a severe understatement, currently he’s outplaying even the highest of expectations.
On Friday night against Endicott he joined Yvon and Hassan Robinson (‘95) in the 2,000-point club. Now, in the Pride’s next game, he will look to etch his name a top of the record books to stand alone as the leading scorer in school history.