Rowan Men’s Basketball Looks for Redemption in the NCAA Division III Tournament

Josh Wright driving to the basket. Wright has been a key factor off the bench for Rowan during this postseason run. February 24, 2022. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

Over the last few days, the Rowan men’s basketball team has been on an emotional rollercoaster ride amidst the most competitive part of their season.

It all began this past Saturday, Feb. 26, when Rowan went toe-to-toe with Stockton University in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship. 

The Profs ultimately fell to the Ospreys by a narrow score of 95-91, finishing second place in the NJAC. While Rowan did not end up hoisting the NJAC title at the end of the night, the team left it all on the court and fought until the end.

They were down by as many as 19 points in the second half but were able to battle back and keep it tight down the stretch. 

The final moments of the game were full of big plays and intense moments, as the game’s four-total lead changes came in the last nine minutes of play. While the fans certainly received a thrilling game, Rowan’s goal was to sit atop the NJAC for the first time since the 2018-2019 season. 

“We thought we could win it,” Josh Wright, a freshman guard, said. “We were just sad because we thought we could pull it out in the end. [Next year,] we are running through the NJAC and I expect us to win all of our games.”

Despite the immediate heartbreak that Wright and his teammates felt after the game, Head Coach Joe Crispin was mostly positive on his team’s performance. 

“I liked how the game went on the whole,” Coach Crispin said. “I thought the pace was great. We didn’t play well in the first half, largely due to inexperience and emotion, but we were on the right track with what we wanted to do. We just didn’t do it well. In the second half, though, we were able to make a run after being down, and not many teams can do that.” 

Luckily for Rowan, they will have an opportunity to continue their season and earn redemption from their previous outing. On Monday, Feb. 28, they were awarded an at-large bid into the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament.

“Any experience with postseason play is invaluable,” Coach Crispin said. “The Stockton game is a great example. [Before the game], I had the guys raise their hands if they hadn’t been here, and only Conner [Dickerson] raised his hand. Now we know what it tastes like and now is the time we can say ‘this is something to build on.’ We want to win the NCAA Tournament. It won’t be easy, but that’s what we’re in it for.”

Coach Crispin’s players also match his excitement to play in the national tournament, as most of the team will be making their national playoff debuts. From the players’ perspective, it is an opportunity to prepare for another high-stakes game and learn from their coaches.

“Coach Crispin has been here before,” Wright said. “So, we just want to learn what he knows about it. We are going to do a lot of shootarounds, defensive drills and run through all of our plays this week. We’re ready.”

The Profs are scheduled to take on Susquehanna University (23-4) this Saturday, March 5, at 5 p.m. With the emotions from the NJAC championship game still fresh in their minds and Stockton on the same side of the bracket, Rowan will certainly be looking to redeem themselves and enact some revenge.

Will they be able to make a magical run in the NCAA Tournament and continue their season, or will Rowan men’s basketball be put on a halt until next season?

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