Bill Nelson said he was sad because the time had passed away, but happy for the memories.
The head coach at Johns Hopkins (19-10) was speaking of his five seniors, and the memories are what they have left after Franklin and Marshall (25-2) put an end to their basketball season with a 65-56 conquest in the second round of the national Division III tournament in Lancaster, Pa., Saturday night.
"It's been an unbelievable four years, and the way they play, you can tell they like each other," Nelson was saying afterward. The class established itself as the most successful in school history, as the team went from 6-18 to 12-12 to two winning seasons capped by tournament bids from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Four seniors started all season -- guards Andy Enfield and Dave Eikenberg and front-liners Eric Hastings and Bill Zahn. A fifth, David Strong, was a reserve guard who played in 12 games. Although different players stepped forward on occasion to play well, Enfield, without question, was the peerless leader.
He was the team's high scorer in 21 of 29 games (22 Saturday night), averaged 21.0, and pushed school scoring records to 610 for a season and 2,025 for a career. With a 7-for-7 effort at F&M;, he finished with 123 free throws in 129 attempts for the season. The windup enabled him to become the all-time NCAA leader in Division III (95.3 percent) and the all-time leader, regardless of division, for a career (92.4 percent).
The accuracy of the 6-foot-1 player from Shippensburg, Pa., rubbed off on his teammates, too, because as a group, the current members of the team had a postseason (Middle Atlantic Conference and NCAA tournament games) mark of 85.9 percent on 181 of 211. Enfield was 76 of 77.
As for a strategy against Enfield, F&M; coach Glenn Robinson said: "We didn't do anything different, I just think we did it better. We did not want to foul him, nor did we want to give him the open shot. Give him the credit. He did a great job because he worked hard for everything he got."
Nelson, whose team put the Diplomats out of the MAC last week, 81-71, said: "Last week, we played behind them on defense and pushed them out. This time, [6-7 Dave] Wilding hurt us down low, they were getting [and making] shots 5 feet closer to the basket, and we had trouble with their defense.
"They pressured the ball well and did not give up the easy quality shots. The field-goal percentage was the difference -- they shot 51 and we shot 42.
"Inside, it was a physical game and we're just not that physical."
The Blue Jays' top three rebounders for the season, Zahn, Jay Gangemi and Hastings, had a total of three for the night.
"I told the team at the half, they had done a fabulous job on the boards and on the screens, and now if they went inside, Hopkins couldn't stop us," Robinson said, savoring one of his teams' making the final 16 of the tournament for the fifth time in the past six years.
So, they pounded the ball inside, beating the Blue Jays on the boards by a margin that seemed wider than the actual 32-19. Chris Finch, who hurt the Blue Jays inside and out, Mark Maggioncalda and Ed Plakans combined for 22 rebounds, while the four by the 5-10 Eikenberg were a team high.
"At least we got the MAC [championship]," Eikenberg said. "We have the nets to remember that one."