A program with more than eight decades of history, men's basketball is by far the oldest varsity sport at Babson. Since acheiving varsity status in 1930-31, the program has amassed over 800 wins, nine conference championships, 10 regional postseason bids, and five NCAA Tournament appearances. The hoops squad has also produced numerous Athletics Hall of Famers, including first-team All-American and New England Basketball Hall of Fame member Jim Pierrakos '92.
Babson's First Varsity Sport
Basketball at Babson dates all the way back to the mid-1920's, when the Faculty and Administration faced off in annual intramural competitions. In 1925-26, a group of intramural all-stars was formed to take on local teams like Wellesley High School and the Dri-Bow Club of Wellesley, marking the first known record of a Babson team playing against outside groups in athletic competition.
Men's hoops became the first varsity sport in Babson history when an official team was formed in 1930-31. On January 19, 1931, the squad, which called itself "The Financeers", fell to the Wollaston Ramblers, 32-29, in the first varsity contest in school history. The team would go on to lose four more games before closing the season with seven straight wins to finish at 7-5. Sandy Walker led the team with 10.4 points per game in its inaugural season, while Bob Brandt and Jim McLeod each added 7.2 points per contest.
The Early Years
The program wasted little time in becoming a local powerhouse, going 13-4 in 1932-33 and then posting the same record in 1934-35. Captain Paul Munson posted what was then a school-record 326 points (19.2 ppg) in the former campaign, while captain Joe Edwards netted 177 points (10.4 ppg) in the latter. Although the program was student-coached during this time, Irwin K. French, Babson's Assistant to the Treasurer, served as the team's Faculty Manager.
Due to World War II, basketball struggled in the 1940s, both before and after the College's closing from 1943 to 1945. However, the program did enjoy moderate success later in the decade, including a 6-4 season in 1948-49. During this time, the team went by the name "The Rogues", a shortened version of "Roger's Rogues" in honor of the College's founder, Roger Babson. The squad would later assume the name of the school's permenant mascot, the Beaver, sometime in the 1950s.
In 1953, Dick Thomas was hired as Babson's first full-time coach. That winter, he led the basketball team an 11-6 record and its first-ever Greater Boston Small College League Championship. Captain Bob Siegel paced the squad with 15.0 points per game, while "Easy" Fred Eaton boasted the team's top single-game performance with 37 points in a win over Dean Academy. The following year, Thomas guided his squad to its second straight league title, beating Boston Teachers College in a one-game playoff for the conference championship. That winter, Babson was recognized by the NCAA with a ranking in its "Top Ten Defensive Small Colleges" - beginning Babson basketball's long tradition of outstanding defense.
Although Babson failed to win its third straight league championship, the team still posted a stellar record of 11-4 in 1955-56 - its final season as a member of the Greater Boston Small College League. The following year, Babson's hoopsters joined the Southern New England Coastal Conference and tied for fourth place, while the program's first-ever junior varsity squad placed second in the varsity's former league, the GBSCL.
Babson struggled in the late 1950s, although there were numerous highlights and milestones. In 1957-58, Dick O'Meara scored with two seconds left to give Babson a thrilling 74-73 win over Boston Teachers College in front of 5,000 fans at the Boston Garden. The following year, O'Meara led the team with 22.7 points per game and became the College's first statistical champion when he led the nation with a .640 field goal percentage. That same year, O'Meara set a single-game program record with 50 points in a win over Burdett, while Jack Cahoon set a school mark with 28 rebounds in the same contest. Former Boston Celtic and Holy Cross legend Togo Palazzi came to Babson to fill in as head coach after coach Tom Smith was injured in a car accident midway through the 1959-60 season - the same year that the College hosted its first-ever Babson Invitational Tournament.
The '60s and '70s
Ken Polhemus emerged as one of Babson basketball's brightest stars in 1960-61, ranking second in the Boston area with 22.5 points per game and earning Greater Boston-Worcester College All-Star honors. Polhemus was also selected to play in the New England Intercollegiate All-Star Game at the Boston Garden that winter - a feat matched by future Babson Athletics Hall of Famer Bill Lunnie the following season.
Babson joined the Dr. James Naismith Intercollegiate Basketball Conference in 1965-66. That year, team members Bob King, Stan Briggs, and future Babson President Brian M. Barefoot '66 P01 were selected to play in a special matchup between various league all-stars and conference champion Bryant.
The Beavers' hoop program enjoyed one of the greatest stretches in its history in the late 1960s, going 53-19 and winning three straight Naismith Championships from 1967-68 to 1969-70. Coached by 1968 conference Coach of the Year Bill Olson, the team featured individual stars like Kevin Leip, who was named Naismith Conference MVP in 1968 and graduated in 1970 as the program's all-time leader with 1,396 points, Wayne Chamberlain, who averaged over 22 points per game and ranked among the national top ten in rebounding with 19.5 per game in 1967-68, and Bill Mackie, who led the team with 532 points in 1969-70. This stretch also included the program's first-ever regional postseason bid, as Babson was selected to play in the NAIA District Tournament in 1969.
The early 1970s saw four different players reach the 1,000 point plateau, as Tim Vincent, Jack Teitsma, Pete Hansen, and Charlie Kelley all accomplished the feat. That set the stage for future Athletics Hall of Famer Chris Johnson, who earned two straight NABC All-Northeast honors and three straight All-ECAC selections before graduating as Babson's all-time leader with 1,808 career points in 1978.
A New Era
In 1980, Serge DeBari took over as head coach of the men's basketball program. During his 15-year tenure, the Beavers would reach unprecedented heights, including two conference titles, five ECAC New England Tournament selections, and the program's first two NCAA Tournament bids. Tom Groth was one of DeBari's first stars, earning NABC All-Northeast Second Team honors in 1983 and then becoming the program's first All-Northeast First Team selection in 1984. Along with teammate Jack Saniuk, Groth surpassed the 1,000 point mark, graduating with a school record 1,854 points in his remarkable career.
After earning its first ECAC Tournament berth in 1984, Babson earned its second ECAC bid in 1986, helping DeBari earn NABC Northeast District Coach of the Year honors. The team then returned to the ECAC Tourney a year later behind All-Northeast Second Team selection and 1,000 point scorer Peter Boretti.
Thanks in large part to DeBari's efforts, the Constitution Athletic Conference (CAC) was formed in 1990. That winter, Babson earned the CAC Regular Season title and earned another ECAC Tournament bid behind star forward Jim Pierrakos '92, who earned All-Northeast Second Team recognition for his efforts. That set the stage for one of the greatest seasons in Babson basketball history in 1991-92, as the Beavers went 22-4, won their first CAC Championship, and earned the program's first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Among the team's wins was a 100-80 victory over Division I Harvard, helping the Beavers earn a top-five national ranking for the first time. Pierrakos was a monster in the paint for Babson that season, earning CAC Player of the Year, ECAC New England Player of the Year, NABC All-Northeast First Team, and NABC All-America First Team honors - making him the first and only All-American in program history. Pierrakos graduated that winter with 1,597 points in his brilliant career.
Babson would go on to win 20 more games, claim its second straight CAC Championship, and earn an ECAC Tournament bid in 1992-93, with CAC Player of the Year, All-Northeast selection, and 1,000 point scorer Matt Miller leading the way. Then in 1994-95, Babson posted a 20-7 mark and returned to the NCAA Tournament in DeBari's final season at the helm of the program.
Into The New Millenium
A former assistant to DeBari, Stephen Brennan assumed the program's head coaching duties in 1995-96. In his first season, Brennan guided the Beavers to a record of 21-7 and its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Among his top stars was Michael Kingsley, who was named All-Northeast Second Team following the season. A year later, Brennan's squad won 17 games and earned an ECAC Tournament bid behind Kingsley, who graduated with a program record 456 assists, and Mark Giovino, who became the team's second statistical champion when he led the nation with a .945 free throw percentage.
In 1998-99, Mike Kmiec made program history when he set a new Babson record with 54 points in a five-overtime game against Wheaton College. Kmiec would also set a single-season program mark with 27.3 points per game that winter, enabling him to become the Beavers' third NABC All-Northeast First Team selection.
The turn of the century ushered in a new era of dominance for Brennan and his program, as Babson embarked on a magnificent four-year run from 2000-01 to 2003-04. After posting an 18-11 mark and earning NEBCA Most Improved Team honors in 2000-01, the Beavers went 25-5, posted the nation's number one defense, won their first New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship, and returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2001-02. After earning a bye in the first round, Babson hosted and defeated Union College for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory and its first trip to the Sweet 16.
The following year, the team won its first ECAC New England Tournament Championship, and in 2003-04, Babson claimed its second NEWMAC title and NCAA Tournament appearance in three years. The program's top stars during this four-year run included all-time steals leader and 1,000 point scorer Jeff Hines, who became Babson's fourth NABC All-Northeast First Team honoree in 2002, Chris Michalowski, who was named ECAC Tournament MVP and All-Northeast Second Team in 2003, and Luke Weber, who earned Male Athlete of the Class honors in 2004.
The latter half of the decade saw two more players reach the 1,000 point plateau, as CJ Enere accomplished the feat in 2004-05 and Zach Etten hit the mark in 2008-09. Brennan also earned accolades, as he collected his fifth conference Coach of the Year award in 2006-07. More recently, Russell Braithwaite '13 became the program's 23rd player to reach the 1,000-point milestone during his senior season of 2012-13.
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