Rowan men’s basketball gears up for NJAC Tournament after wild regular season

Rowan senior forward TJ Booth drives to the basket earlier this year against Stockton University. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

This season for the Rowan men’s basketball team has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least.

The Profs celebrated Senior Night with 89-67 blowout victory last Saturday versus New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) foe Rutgers-Newark. Forward TJ Booth was honored pre-game and got an ovation from the crowd after his first trip to the bench. For the game, he put in 17 points and seven rebounds.

According to head coach Joe Crispin, Booth’s presence will definitely be missed.

“TJ’s done great for us,” Crispin said. “He’s a good kid, he’s a joy to coach and he’s tough to guard for other teams.”

With the win, Rowan secured a spot for playoff action. Streakiness has been the name of the game for the brown and gold this year. After losing to Montclair State on Jan. 27 to bring their then-losing streak to five, they’ve come back to life, winning four straight. All four have been against NJAC teams, as well.

The Profs have had five, four and two-game winning streaks as well as five, three and two-game losing streaks this year, just for context.

A huge component of their turnaround has been their vast improvements at the free-throw line. Over the four games, they’ve shot 79 percent (64/81). Meanwhile, they only shot 58.7 percent (64/109) during the losing streak.

Reflecting back on this season, Crispin has been impressed by the group’s teamwork. 

“Our ball movement has been good and we get good opportunities,” Crispin said. “We’re just trying to get mismatches, we’re good versus man-to-man coverage.”

As for the team’s turnaround at the line, he stated that “the guys are playing with more conviction.”

“When the team shoots better, everybody starts to feel a little bit better about getting there,” Crispin said. “It’s certainly helped us win our last four games.”

The team has been tackling every challenge that has been thrown at them to propel themselves into the postseason. There mentality? Grind it out.

“Grind it out, just win the game,” said guard DaRon Curry. “I know we didn’t play well in the second half, but we just needed to figure how to win. Coach’s message was just to attack it. We knew that they’d play zone [defense] and the zone can make you play real stagnate. We did that well in the first half but the second half we did it less and it got a little tighter.”

This season, Rowan ranks first in scoring (82.6 points-per-game), blocked shots (5.4), assists (16.3), and steals (9.7) in the NJAC.

“We’re playing for something, but more than anything, we’re playing to be the best team we can be here and play our best basketball in February. I expect us to play our best every night,” Crispin said.

Over the past decade, Rowan is just 1-7 in the NJAC tournament and haven’t won a tournament title in 19 years. 

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