Emerson’s men’s basketball team (13-12, 6-8) made an unexpected run to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference playoffs this season, bolstered by strong offensive plays from forward Jon Goldberg and guard Michael Thorpe.
After averaging 7.8 points per game during his junior year, the senior captain was urged by his teammates and head coach, Jim O’Brien, to become more involved. Goldberg became an offensive powerhouse in the NEWMAC, averaging 11.9 points per game over 25 games, the conference’s 12th highest.
Although Goldberg’s four point jump from last season was substantial, Goldberg’s total of 97 points in the Lions’ last six games (16.7 points per game) helped propel his team to the fifth seed in the NEWMAC playoffs. Goldberg, who could often be found practicing his free throw shot on off days in the Brown Plofker Gym, pushed his way toward a free throw percentage of 81.9, a NEWMAC and team best.
Goldberg came into his own in February, scoring a season high 23 points in a loss to Babson on Feb. 1, and again in a win over Coast Guard on Feb. 12.
After breaking his nose in a game against Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Feb. 6, Goldberg was forced to wear a protective plastic mask for the remainder of the season. The mask clearly didn’t affect Goldberg’s vision on the floor. In his first game with the mask, Goldberg went on to post five assists, his second highest total of the season. Goldberg’s 2.9 assists per game average was the second highest on the team behind sophomore guard, Michael Thorpe.
Goldberg, who is listed at 6-foot-4, leaped and boxed his way out to a NEWMAC-leading 9.7 rebounds per game, beating out a few 6-foot-8 behemoths along the way. In the Lions’ last game of the season, a 79-73 loss to Wheaton College, Goldberg secured 17 rebounds, which tied a season high.
Sophomore guard Michael Thorpe, who averaged 11.5 points per game and was the Lions’ leading scorer during his freshman campaign, made leaps of his own this season. Thorpe, who shot 46 percent from the field during his second year, ended the regular season averaging 15 points per game, the fourth highest total in the NEWMAC
Thorpe, who is 6 feet tall, employs a fast-paced play style, attacking the basket while using a high level of body control to finish his drives to the goal.
After a relatively slow start to the season, Thorpe lit up the court and dropped consecutive games of 20 more points. In the Lions’ victory over Fisher College Dec. 4, Thorpe poured in a season-high 27 points. In Emerson’s next game, a 90-79 victory over Amherst College, the number one ranked Division 3 men’s basketball team in the country,Thorpe posted 21 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
In the Lions’ last three wins of the season, Thorpe helped lead his team to the NEWMAC playoffs fifth seed by averaging 19.3 points in those contests.
Although Thorpe was the Lions’ most productive offensive player, his speed gave him an advantage over his competition as he averaged 1.4 steals per game, tying him for the fifth highest total in the NEWMAC with teammate Goldberg.
Assistant sports editor Mike Lucas did not edit this story because he is a member of the men’s basketball team.