Williams men's basketball team reflects after Final Four run

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SALEM, Va. — The question hung in the air for a few seconds Friday night, and Kyle Scadlock looked like he didn't want to answer it.

After all, Williams College's bid for a second NCAA Division III championship had ended probably 25 minutes earlier by Augustana on the court at the Salem Civic Center.

"I think that's the last thing on our minds right now, to be honest," Scadlock said to a reporter who asked what the young Ephs take out of this run to the Final Four.

"I can only speak for myself when I say that it hurts personally," he said. "But it hurts even more because no one deserves this run more than Dan [Aronowitz] and Taysean [Scott]. I really wish I could have been better for them, we could have been better for them."

Aronowitz and Scott were the only seniors on the 2016-17 Ephs, a team that went from being 1-4 in NESCAC play to winning 23 games and seeing the season end one game shy of playing for a Division III national title.

Augustana scored a 90-79 win in the second semifinal game Friday night. Aronowitz finished his outstanding Williams career by scoring a game-high 29 points. It was a season-best result for the senior from Columbus, Ohio, and just three points off his career-high of 32, scored two times in the 2015-16 season.

It was also No. 3 on the recent single-game Williams scoring record at the Final Four. Duncan Robinson, now playing at Michigan, scored 30 in the semifinal win over Amherst in 2014, while Ben Coffin had 33 in a semifinal overtime win over The College of Wooster back in 2003.

But Aronowitz and Scott will likely be on to the next phase of their lives if and when the Ephs make another trip to Southern Virginia.

Cole Teal will be in Aronowitz's position next year as a senior starter for a Williams team that will still have only four seniors on it.

"The thing that comes to mind is to thank the seniors, Dan and Tay, for showing us the way," said Teal. "Setting a tone for the program. Hopefully this is just a start and hopefully, we'll be back here next year."

Three of the four teams that came to Salem were loaded with underclassmen. Only Babson was a senior-dominated squad.

On Friday night, Williams coach Kevin App played 10 players. Aronowitz was the only player who won't return in uniform next year. Five of the 10 were sophomores while Matt Karopowicz was the only freshman to play in the game.

"One thing that's pretty obvious is that for our class, which is six sophomores, it's great experience down the stretch," sophomore center Michael Kempton said. "Hopefully, we can keep making runs in the next couple of years, and hopefully get back here."

None of the returnees, not Teal, one of the four seniors-to-be, nor Kempton really wanted to think much about what they'll have to do next year.

"We were just talking about this. It was one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life," Kempton said. "The experience is awesome.

"It definitely stinks, but only one team's season ends the way you want it to."

Of the sophomore class members who got into the scorebook on Friday, Scadlock had 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in 30 minutes, to lead the way. Marcos Soto started and played 14 minutes, scoring four points. Coming off the bench, Kempton and Bobby Casey played 18 and 24 minutes respectively, scoring six points each. James Heskett had two points in 14 minutes.

Freshman Karpowicz had a basket in seven minutes.

The Williams senior tri-captain said one of his roles this year is in helping the young players in purple and gold understand how good they can be.

"One thing I've taken a lot of pride in is telling these guys every single day, how good they are and how capable they are," Aronowitz said in Friday's postgame press conference.

"Last year, the progression was learning that they could be good and learning how good they were," Williams coach Kevin App, responding to the same question, said. "I thought this year, the next step for these guys — and one of the reasons we hit a little lull — they had to learn how to be really good. That means bringing it every night, bringing it every day in practice, playing with a target on your back."

The returning cast will also include a highly thought of group of sophomores-to-be. A group that includes 6-foot-5 shooting guards Henry Feinberg and Mickey Babek, and 6-foot-2 combo guard Vince Brookins Jr., whose father Vince had a Final Four from the University of Iowa on his resume.

Jake Porath, a 6-9 sophomore center, could also see more time next year, as could the new recruiting class that will show up in Williamstown in September.

"The entire program, myself included, learned a lot about that this year," said App. "Next year, it's going to be having those expectations from Day One, and how do you respond, how do you handle that. That'll be the growth and the learning experience we'll have to go through next year."

Reach sportswriter Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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