In what was one of the most remarkable seasons in recent Wells athletic history, the inaugural men’s basketball season concluded on March 1, one game away from a berth in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament. Once the dust had settled, the team finished the season with a 14-14 record.
Yet the real story is that six freshmen and four juniors, representing four different states, came together under Head Coach Joe Wojtylko to build a men’s basketball program at Wells College. Due to fire code regulations that precluded them from playing in their new home court this year, the team played 25 of their 28 games on the road; three home games were played without spectators. Despite these challenges, ten players and one determined coach built in one season a Wells basketball team that became one of the more competitive programs in the conference.
The Express earned their first win in program history on November 18, defeating Hilbert College 77-59. Although they would start 1-6, the Express found their stride and ended the rest of the season 11-7, ultimately earning the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. After victories over SUNY Cobleskill and University of Dallas, the Express fell to No. 1 SUNY IT 78-49 in the North Eastern Athletic Conference tournament final game.
Among the lead players of the year is two-time NEAC Player of the Week Darrell Bullock ’10 of Chicago. Bullock’s 20.8 points per game (ppg) ranked him first in the conference and 24th in the nation. Juan Paulino ‘11 of Bronx, NY averaged a double-double (14.2 ppg, 14.6 rpg) for the season and was also named NEAC Player of the Week in February.
Eight of the ten players averaged over 16 minutes per game during the season. Five players averaged over five points per game, with three averaging over ten points per game (Bullock, Paulino, and freshman Greg Jones with 13.3 ppg).
The Express played such long-established programs as Hobart, Hamilton, and Bates, defeating Hobart in the Regis Holiday Tournament. They knocked off NEAC favorites D’Youville and Keuka along the way, and although they watched another team walk off with the conference championship, they finished their inaugural season with heads held high, knowing every player there on Sunday would be back on the court October 15 ready to write chapter two in the Wells College men’s basketball history book.
Wells College is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III member and joined the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) in fall 2007. The College currently offers the following intercollegiate teams — Women: field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and cross country; a new basketball program will be offered next winter at the club level and will elevate to varsity the following year. Men: soccer, swimming, lacrosse, cross country, and now basketball. A new mixed golf team will compete at the varsity level this spring. The College continues to develop plans for additional sport sponsorship that are inclusive of both men and women, and meet the needs of college students today.