Players on the men’s basketball team received championship rings this week after winning the program’s first-ever conference title in the 2019 season.
“Being here for nine years, it’s the first time we came close to a championship, and that’s what you play for,” head coach Bill Curley said in an interview. “Granted, this is just a league championship. We want to get a national title, but you have to start somewhere.”
The Lions finished with an overall record of 16-12 in the regular season and playoffs combined—including 9-5 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. The team defeated Springfield College in the semi-finals and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the finals to win the NEWMAC championship. In their inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance, the Lions lost 96-79 in the opening round against Rowan University.
Sophomore guard Zach Waterhouse credits the team’s leadership for guiding them through a historic season.
“We had great leadership from Geoff Gray and some of the older kids, and we had a lot of younger kids who came in and listened to the older kids and coaches and bought into the system,” Waterhouse said in an interview. “It really worked. We were staying after [practice], we were putting in a lot of extra time going to the weight room, all these extra practices, and we really meshed as a team.”
Each player received their own customized rings depicting the letter ‘E’ in a stylistic yellow font with a purple background—mimicking the college’s colors. The name of the recipient is printed on one side and “First Ever Men’s Basketball Championship 2019” is printed on the other. The words “NEWMAC Champions” are engraved around the letter “E” on top.
“I was really excited to get my ring because it showed it was a culmination of all our effort into a piece of jewelry,” Waterhouse said. “The fact that we all have them now is something we can bond over to remember the season we had, which is very cool.”
Curley—who won NEWMAC Coach of the Year last season—said he wants this year’s team to be ready to match the intensity of its conference rivals.
“This year, when you’re the top dog, [other teams] want to prove that last year was a fluke,” Curley said. “So we just got to do what we’ve been doing—show up every day, play hard, and make your teammates better.”