Williford on the court, Leatherman on the bench lead EaglesDecember 20, 2001
Location: Bridgewater, Virginia
Conference: Old Dominion
Affiliation: NCAA Div. III
Colors: Crimson and vegas gold
Home arena: Nininger Hall
Head coach: Bill Leatherman
Current record: 5-2
2000-01 overall record: 19-7
2000-01 ODAC record: 1-1
Starters returning: 2
Letterwinners returning: 8
At first glance
Led by pre-season All-American Kyle Williford, the Eagles and highly successful head coach Bill Leatherman are coming off three straight wins. This is the team's third two-day tournament of the season and their last non-conference action of the season.
Head Coach Bill Leatherman
Bridgewater is led by Head Coach Bill Leatherman, who is in his 17th year at the helm of the Eagles program. He owns a .578 winning percentage and has taken Bridgewater to NCAA tournament three times, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1996-97. His teams have one two Old Dominion Athletic Conference regular season titles and one ODAC tournament championship (1988). He has been named the ODAC Coach of the Year three times
Bridgewater has won their last three games to improve their overall record to 5-2. The Eagles are 1-1 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, where they were picked to finish fourth in the pre-season coaches poll. This weekend Bridgewater will play their final two non-conference games of the season.
Bridgewater returns two starters and eight total letterwinners from last season's squad, which finished 19-7 overall. Leading the Eagles once again this season is 6-7 senior center Kyle Williford (21.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg), who is one of the top players in all of NCAA Division III. He was named 2nd Team Pre-season All-American by Street and Smith Magazine after averaging 19.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season when he was named NABC/Chevrolet Division III 2nd Team All-America. He has twice been named first team all-conference and was the league's and Columbus Multimedia (national) Freshman of the Year after the 1998-99 season. He has started all 83 games of his collegiate career and has scored 1,452 points so far at BC.
Four other seniors also return, including guards Matt Stevens and Brett Childers, along with forwards David Downs and Rocky Rhodes. Stevens (8.4 ppg) and Childers (9.3 ppg) are the teams' top two scorer's after Williford, while Rhodes has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for most of his career.
A talented group of sophomores will also play key roles in the Eagles success this season, including C.W. Durrette, Andrew Lacey, Ryan Lambert and Jeff Schwalm. Durrette has established himself as one of the top guards in the ODAC, averaging 7.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game so far this season.
Eagles shooting well
Bridgewater is shooting 47.1% from the field so far this season, while limiting their opponents to a 41.7% shooting clip. The Eagles are also shooting well from the free throw line (71.3%) and are outrebounding their opponents by over 10 boards per game.
BC vs. BC
Bridgewater will face tournament host Bluffton on Friday night. These two teams have two previous meetings in their history, with both of those matchups coming in the mid 1980s at early season tournaments hosted by Eastern Mennonite University (Va.). Both scores were nearly identical, as Bluffton won 91-72 in 1984 before Bridgewater took a 90-75 victory in 1986.
Eagle history note
The Eagles have finished .500 or better 11 out of 16 seasons under Head Coach Bill Leatherman after reaching that mark just 14 times in the 61 seasons prior to his arrival. BC has been to the NCAA tournament three times since 1988. The Bridgewater football squad was the National Runner-up this season, falling to five-time national champion Mount Union 30-27 on December 16.