First-Year Phenoms Step Up for Sagehens

With two minutes remaining on the opening night of the David Wells Classic on Friday, Nov. 27, the Carleton College Knights (3-2) were up 62-59 over the Pomona-Pitzer men's basketball team (3-1). The two teams had been battling point-for-point in the second half, each intermittently taking the lead. Now, it was a waiting game to see who could tough it out—and just at the right time, one of the Sagehens hit his stride.

“It seemed like Daniel couldn’t miss,” guard Corbin Koch PO ’19 said of guard Daniel Rosenbaum PO ’19. “No matter how hard the look was, he was putting it in.”

In the last two minutes, Rosenbaum's accurate shots added up, and at the final buzzer, the scoreboard read Sagehens 72, Knights 66.

Rosenbaum had stellar performances in the first few games of the season, and of his collegiate career, helping P-P hold off DePauw University (2-4) a week earlier. Against Carleton, he helped crush the Knights’ hopes for a comeback with 28 points. In the following game against Bristol University (0-6), Koch, also a first-year, led the way with a game-high 27 points.

“We have a really young team,” Koch said. “It’s going to be a good year for us younger guys to mature.”

Forward Gibson Farone-Collins PO ’16 echoed Koch's remarks, saying that the first-years bring an energy to the court that invigorates the entire team.

“The young guys are super talented, and it’s been fun to see how far they’ve come even during the first month of the season,” Farone-Collins said.

With such bright hopes for the future, the team is looking forward to dominating upcoming games. After losing their season opener to Washington University in St. Louis (5-0), the Sagehens are now making their way to the top of the pecking order with three straight wins, two of those in the David Wells Classic. As far as technical improvements go, the Sagehens feel that their second-half play is propelling them to these victories.

“We felt like we came out a little flat defensively in both games, but had strong stretches in each second half that allowed us to get the win,” Farone-Collins said.

He added that this will be an area for the team to work on throughout the season.

“We need to figure out how to make those stretches last the full 40 minutes,” Farone-Collins said. “We aren't anywhere near the team we need to be in February. The ultimate goal, of course, is to play in the NCAAs.”

Koch added that as newcomers, the first-years don’t know what to expect from SCIAC, and it’s nice to have upperclassmen to guide them to that peak level of play. The team has already seen strides in their performance since the first day on the court.

That first day, especially for the first-years, was a trial-run to see how the team and the coaches worked together and to find where they fit in. Though most of the team knew each other from open gym, Koch recalled his apprehension at the beginning of the season.

“I was a little bit nervous, just trying to see how the coach is and how I’d mesh with his system,” he said.

For Farone-Collins, that’s one nice aspect of being a senior.

“It’s nice to feel like I know what is going on,” he said.

Success in the season and the NCAA tournament would be a satisfying conclusion to Farone-Collins' and the rest of the Sagehen seniors' college careers. While Koch and the other first-years are looking forward to three more years of playing, Farone-Collins is reconciling himself with his last season.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I will really miss basketball and Pomona in general next year.”

Fortunately for him, he has a while to go. There are 21 games left in the season—and even more if the team advances to the SCIAC tournament. The Sagehens play the University of Antelope Valley at the University of Redlands on Friday, Dec. 4, in their next step of the season.

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