Hosting the regional: Hawks will turn to Tim Guers, Cody Ball when they open against Molloy today.
For the fifth year in a row, and 19th time under coach Keith Dickson, the Saint Anselm men’s basketball team will play in the Division II NCAA tournament.
What’s different this time? The Hawks will play tournament games at home in Goffstown. Recent facility improvements have made Stoutenburgh Gym NCAA compliant and the Hawks will host the eight-team East Regional starting today.
The other teams in the field are Merrimack, St. Thomas Aquinas, Le Moyne, New Haven, Daemen, Dominican and the Hawks’ first-round opponent, Molloy.
“The last three years we’ve been in Syracuse twice and Philadelphia, where we played in the regional final three years ago,” Dickson said. “There has to be a benefit to staying in your own bed, playing on your own court, but I think ultimately the team that plays the best three games here is going to go home the winner. We hope we can shake whatever rust we have off very quickly and take care of these games one at a time.”
Saturday’s game will be the Hawks’ first since getting upset by Southern Connecticut State in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 tournament back on March 3. However, the Hawks earned the right to host the regional on the back of a 22-4 regular season that included a dominant 6-1 month of February.
While the Hawks have been away from the court for a few weeks, they won’t be going into the regional blind. Merrimack, Le Moyne, and New Haven are all Northeast-10 rivals, and the Hawks also played Daemen earlier this year. Merrimack, Le Moyne, and Daemen all beat Saint Anselm this season.
“I’ve always found the older you are — the more experience you have in these tournaments — the better it is for you,” Dickson said. “We actually get a first-round matchup with someone we haven’t played this year. That’s a little unusual. We haven’t played Molloy in three years.”
The Hawks will lean on their two senior leaders to lead the way this weekend. Tim Guers and Cody Ball have been anchors on the team for several years and have led the Hawks all season. Guers, who was named Northeast-10 player of the year, leads the team with 22 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists a game. Guers currently has 2,222 points and is the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Ball, of Londonderry, was named to the all-conference second team and is averaging 13.4 points a night. Both Guers and Ball average more than 33 minutes of action a game.
“Those guys are going to have to do what they do,” Dickson said of Guers and Ball. “I think the better they play, the easier it might be for us. We move down from them and you’re into our sophomores and freshmen. I think it’s imperative the two seniors play to their ability for sure.”
The regional quarterfinals kick off today at noon with Saint Thomas Aquinas vs Le Moyne. Saint Anselm is scheduled to play at 5 pm. The winners today will play in the regional semifinals on Sunday at 5 and 7:30 p.m. If the Hawks win today, they would play in the 7:30 game on Sunday.
The regional final will be Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the regional champion will advance to the Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind.. Saint Anselm’s lone Elite Eight appearance came in 2000.