Around the Region

Whichever way the wind blows

Ruddy has seen his game-day role decrease, but that hasn't slowed his leadership or intensity in practices.
Hobart Athletics photo


By Andrew Lovell
D3sports.com

Luke Ruddy's past summer was a bit different than that of a typical college student.

Sure, he had an internship like many other rising seniors, but it wasn't spent making coffee runs or completing other assorted menial tasks. Instead, Ruddy spent his time studying and researching weather models for an individual research project with the National Weather Service in Missoula, Montana as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hollings Scholarship.

Ruddy, a senior forward on the Hobart men's basketball team and Seneca Falls, N.Y., native, is particularly interested in wildfires, which are something of a rarity on the East Coast. Ruddy closely studied a specific weather model called the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Model in an attempt to determine how accurately the model could predict wind shifts.

The unpredictable nature of wind shifts is one of the top reasons that wildfires spread. The world was reminded of this sobering reality during the widespread California wildfires of 2017, which produced more than 9,000 separate fires, impacted more than one million acres of land, and killed dozens of people.

"This particular model that we were using was able to capture some of the events we looked at, but wasn't able to capture them all," Ruddy said. "Even if it gets eight of 10 cases right, those two cases where it missed a shift in the wind could potentially be fatal to firefighters."

Ruddy said the study was preliminary in nature, and confirmed the anticipated outcome that a more accurate model, or series of models, is needed.

Many wildfires -- too many in fact -- can be linked to human error or neglect, such as improperly extinguishing a campfire. But many wildfires occur naturally from events such as lightning strikes.

Ruddy, a lifelong New York State native, was exposed to Montana's fire season during his 10-week summer stay. He routinely saw smoke in the distance from nearby mountains, to the point where the air in Missoula carried a distinct campfire smell. The Montana natives didn't think twice about it, but it was jarring for Ruddy.

Ruddy makes the most in his time off the bench, much like he made the most of his summer internship.
Hobart Athletics photo

A geoscience major with minors in math and biology, Ruddy is fascinated by the study of weather, wildfires and wintry weather above the rest.

"I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do after graduation, but I'm definitely interested in meteorology," Ruddy said. "Working for the Weather Service would be something I'd enjoy."

Some of Ruddy's other hands-on experiences including traveling in one of the National Weather Service's meteorologist trucks to check water levels in streams and other bodies of water during an early-season flash-flood period, as well as traveling to a nearby fire camp to see how firefighters set up and prepare to combat wildfires.

"I've learned way more than I ever thought I would about all types of weather," Ruddy said, "whether it be tornadoes, hurricanes, just normal rain."

Ruddy continues to study weather in his classes at Hobart College, though he hasn't quite reached the point where he doesn't rely on the local forecast.

"When I wake up, I still check my weather app on my phone," Ruddy said with a laugh.

The lone senior and one of two captains on this season's team has seen his on-court role diminish as the Statesmen embrace a more guard-oriented offense under head coach Tim Sweeney. After averaging 6.2 points per game in 52 games (51 starts) over the last two seasons, Ruddy is averaging just 2.2 points in 11.7 minutes per game with zero starts.

It's been a tough pill to swallow, but Ruddy has embraced his role as team leader and practice tone-setter.

"I tried to just embrace it and not let it ruin my attitude or affect my outlook," Ruddy said. "I just tried to still be the positive player I am. I'll just keep working hard and earning whatever minutes I can get."

Ruddy has refused to make it about himself, and that team-first mentality has permeated a team that boasts four players averaging double digits in points and nine players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.

Hobart, which lost to Union in last season's conference tournament, is off to an excellent 11-3 start, including a 6-1 mark in the Liberty League. The season started with back-to-back wins over St. John Fisher and Rochester, two teams ranked in the D3hoops.com Top 25 preseason poll, and now has the Statesmen on a five-game winning streak since the calendar flipped to 2018.

"Coming into league play, we knew we'd be competitive with everyone," Ruddy said. "We're off to a good start so far, but we've still got our goal set on that Liberty League championship."

Stevens men stay unbeaten with 3OT thriller

Sophomore guard Spencer Cook scored 33 points and junior guard Jayson Winick finished with 20 points in Stevens's epic 106-104 triple-overtime win over Hartwick this past Saturday.

The two Empire 8 contenders combined for 19 ties, 22 lead changes, 182 field-goal attempts, and 210 points in one of the most entertaining games of the 2017-18 season.

Freshman guard Kevin Townes paced the Hawks with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but it was the Ducks who emerged victorious in the key conference showdown. With the win, Stevens improved to 12-3 overall and 6-0 in conference play. As of Tuesday night, Stevens has a two-game lead in the win column of the Empire 8 standings, though key matchups with Nazareth (9-4, 4-0) and St. John Fisher (8-6, 3-2) loom this weekend.

Stevens hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2012-13, but finished as the runner-up in last season's Empire 8 conference tournament. The Ducks appear poised to make a run at snapping that four-season drought.

Cortland's Mosher, Ithaca's Mullins hit milestones

With an 83-46 win against Potsdam this past Saturday, Cortland women's coach Jeannette Mosher tallied her 400th career victory as the Red Dragons' head coach. Mosher's overall career record, which includes a four-year stint at Alfred before arriving at Cortland in 1998, improved to 433-205.

Mosher has guided Cortland to the NCAA tournament eight times, and has this year's team (8-6, 7-2) in the thick of the SUNYAC hunt.

About 30 minutes south down Route 13, Ithaca men's coach Jim Mullins picked up his 308th career win as the Bombers' coach with an 82-67 win over St. Lawrence this past Friday. Why is that significant? Because it moved Mullins past Tom Baker into first place on Ithaca's all-time wins list.

Top 25 roundup: Geneseo women move up

The Geneseo women's team checked in at No. 25, cracking the top 25 for the first time this season in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 poll. The Knights are 13-1 overall and 8-0 in SUNYAC play, and have now won 12 straight games.

Rochester held steady at No. 7 for a second consecutive week.

The Rochester men ranked No. 25 in this week's poll, one week after falling out of the top 25.

Contact me

Have a story idea? A fun stat? Just want to talk some hoops? I'm always happy to hear from a fellow D-III fan. I can be reached via email at andrew.lovell@d3sports.com, or on Twitter at @Andrew_Lovell.

 

 

 

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Columnist

Justin Goldberg

Andrew Lovell is a writer based in Connecticut and a former online news editor for ESPN.com, as well as a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has written feature stories for ESPN.com, currently contributes fantasy football content to RotoBaller.com, and has been a regular contributor to D3sports.com sites since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing.

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