Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Plenty of area teams worth seeing in person

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There is a lot to like about living in Berkshire County.One of the great advantages of living here is that within about a 90-minute drive from my office in Pittsfield, one can get their fill of games to watch in person.

So put down the remote and take some drives. Remember, if it snows, just give yourself a little extra time. We live in the Berkshires, and it snows in the winter.

You don't have to go very far to see one of the top Division III basketball teams in America. It's a reasonably short jaunt to Williamstown from anywhere in Berkshire County, and the Williams men are worth the price of admission. Actually, there is no admission charge, but if there was, it would be worthwhile.

Coach Kevin App's team is 15-0 and ranked third in the national Division III poll. It is a team with four double-figure scorers and three players — guards Bobby Casey and Kyle Scadlock along with forward James Heskett — who might just be All-Americans this winter. Heskett was an All-American and the NESCAC player of the year last season.

Williams will be back at home on Saturday against NESCAC rival Middlebury. It's the first of four home games that includes tough matchups against Trinity on Jan. 25 and Albertus Magnus on Jan. 28.

Actually, all of Berkshire County's winter college teams are worth checking out. The Williams women's basketball team, the basketball teams at MCLA and the Williams hockey squads can all provide you an entertaining evening.

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Up the road in Amherst, the second-ranked UMass hockey team continues to play well, and might just be No. 1 again this week.

Coach Greg Carvel's Minutemen beat Vermont 4-1 on Friday night and played the Catamounts again on Saturday. Friday's win, coupled with a 3-1 loss by top-ranked St. Cloud State at the hands of No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth, might just catapult the Minutemen up to the top — where they had been earlier in the season.

It is an opportunity to see defenseman Cale Makar, who I believe is the top college hockey player in the country. The defenseman was the fourth player chosen in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The three players drafted ahead of him are all in the NHL, and he is the highest drafted collegian in 2017, that makes him the top player in college hockey. He could even be a top candidate for Hockey's Heisman Trophy, the Hobey Baker Award.

UMass has a home-and-home series with Northeastern this weekend. The Minutemen will be in the Mullins Center Friday night.

I was in the Mullins Center when a capacity crowd greeted UMass against Quinnipiac just before Christmas. The noise kind of reminded me of the Calipari Era of UMass basketball.

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If you are looking to see some Division I basketball, you can follow Route 9 to Amherst or take Route 20 to I-90 and take in a game at Siena or UAlbany.

The highlight for UMass this week is a visit by George Mason on Wednesday night. George Mason is coached by former Williams player and coach Dave Paulsen. Ironically, it is the same night that Williams plays at Amherst. So Paulsen/Williams fans will have a decision to make.

Siena's first-year coach Jamion Christian's team is starting to find its footing, and the Saints will be at home against Monmouth on Monday and Niagara on Thursday.

Circle Wednesday, Feb. 13 on your calendar as a night you should visit UAlbany. That's when the Great Danes will host UMass Lowell. Lowell is coached by Dalton's Pat Duquette and has Pittsfield's Bryce Daley on the roster.

The River Hawks were in the process of knocking off UMBC on Saturday. That's the same No. 16 seed that beat No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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Jan. 30 is another date to target, because that's when Pittsfield's Peyton Steinman and Grace Guachione will be back in the region.

The sophomore guards at Division II St. Anselm will be in Albany, N.Y., for a game against St. Rose that night.

Steinman and Guachione are playing for a 11-3 squad that beat Adelphi 75-72 on Saturday. Steinman's block of Jess Camarda's potential game-tying 3-point shot, sealed the victory.

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And don't forget our local high school teams. They are always worth a trip.

It would be nice to see a packed house on Monday in Lenox when Lee plays the Millionaires. Lee's Ben Harding needs one, count 'em, one point to reach 1,000. Harding would be the eighth Wildcat to reach the mark and the first since 2014 graduate Heamon Williams.

So gas up the family vehicle and take a few trips. I'll probably see you at some of those games, and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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