Milligan, Lemons have seniority
By Brian Lester
|Georgio Milligan helped his
Diplomats to the Final Four as a freshman and could do so
Franklin and Marshall athletics photo
They are two of the top point guards in NCAA Division III basketball and the accomplishments of the two seniors prove as much.
Georgio Milligan of Franklin and Marshall has helped the Diplomats rattle off eight consecutive wins and earn a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Franklin and Marshall is 27-2 and Milligan has been a key to that success, averaging 18.4 points per game.
Cory Lemons has guided Cabrini (28-1) into the Sweet 16 as well. The Cavaliers have won their last 19 games and Lemons has been at the heart of the success, dropping in 17.9 points per outing.
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For Milligan, the second weekend of the tournament will be a little extra special as he will have a chance to play at home on Friday in a showdown with Amherst.
The Diplomats knocked off York (72-50) and Western Connecticut (82-72) in the first two rounds. Milligan scored 38 points in the two games, including 22 against York.
"I am happy that we have been successful, and right now, I am more concerned on how we will finish," Milligan said. "I am happy that we will be able to play at home for the second weekend, especially since it is my senior year. It gives me at least one more home game."
Lemons and his Cavalier teammates will playing on the road this weekend. The Cavaliers battle Eastern Connecticut on Friday at Middlebury after surviving tests against Castleton (104-87) and Hobart (90-88 OT). Lemons poured in 25 points in the overtime win and hit for 17 against Castleton.
“The weekend was a lot of fun. We prepared hard for the opportunity to advance and we know nothing will come easy this weekend,” Lemons said. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of this and I credit my teammates and coaches for the success.”
No one can say what the future holds for Milligan and Lemons. Their seasons could easily continue right into the Final Four next weekend in Salem or their seasons could be swallowed up by disappointment.
What is for sure is that both players have made a significant impact on their programs, which is part of the reason why they on the short list for the NABC All-Star Game, assuming their teams don’t advance to the national semifinals.
Milligan has drilled 32 three-pointers and is shooting 48.2 percent from the field. He has also pulled down 4.4 rebounds per outing and has dished out 141 assists. Milligan has also gotten the job done on defense, tallying 63 steals and blocking 32 shots.
It’s safe to say Milligan’s hard work paid off.
"I have tried to improve my shooting and passing this season, and I believe I have gotten better in both areas,” Milligan said. “I think my biggest strengths are my defense and getting my teammates involved in our defense.”
|Cory Lemons leads Cabrini in
points, assists, steals and is second in
Cabrini athletics photo
As for Lemons, he has knocked down 27 shots from beyond the arc and is shooting 48.4 percent from the floor. Lemons is averaging 6.3 rebounds per game and has racked up 52 steals to go along with 187 assists, a number that is an important part of Lemons’ game.
“I try to get everyone involved. Everyone looks at my scoring, but my first option is to pass,” Lemons said. “I am surrounded by good shooters out there and they help me get going offensively when they are playing well. I am very vocal. Sometimes it makes my teammates nervous, but I never stop talking. It’s one of my strengths.”
Franklin and Marshall is averaging 70.3 points per outing and allowing 55.8. The Diplomats are shooting 48.4 percent as a team and Hayk Gyokchyan has stepped up this season as well, averaging 13.2 ppg.
If the Diplomats are to advance out of the Sweet 16, though, they will have to hang their hats on defense.
“We have to be able to play great team defense. I think we’ve really come together as a team in that area," Milligan said. "Our intensity level has greatly increased this postseason.”
Defense does indeed win championships and so it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Cavaliers believe they will need to be at their best defensively to advance in the tournament.
Cabrini, after all, has the offensive weapons to succeed. Jeremy Knowles is pouring in 12.8 ppg and John Boyd is clicking for 11.1 points per outing. Aaron Walton-Moss has only played in 15 games but is averaging 11 ppg.
The Cavaliers are averaging 85.8 points per outing as a team and allowing 72.5.
“We have to play good on defense. That is what it is going to come down to,” Lemons said. “We can score with anyone, but defense is going to be the difference.”
No matter what happens the rest of the way, both players have enjoyed their time at their respective schools.
“It’s been great since the first year I came to school,” Lemons said. “I’ve had great coaches and teammates, and each year has gotten better. I want to keep it going.”
Milligan has similar thoughts.
“It’s been great playing here. It is a home away from home,” Milligan said. “This school will be a part of my extended family forever.”