Another year, another season for Rowan University men’s basketball has come and gone down in the history books.
While the season was filled with some exciting moments and games, it ended abruptly last week after the team fell in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament. In their season finale, Rowan lost by a mere ten points to Susquehanna University with a final score of 94-84.
Despite the initial feeling of disappointment that the team and fans may be feeling, it is never too early to reflect on the season and begin looking toward the future. For Rowan’s program, that future appears bright based on what many of their young players were able to do this past season.
After being ranked as the third-best team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s (NJAC) preseason polls, Rowan was able to make it all the way to the NJAC title game and earn themselves an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. While they did not win either, their ability to get to those thresholds has set a standard that the team will look to surpass next season and beyond.
Luckily for them, there are only two graduating seniors leaving the program, which means that most of their top performers from this past season are slated to return as Profs.
Two players that broke out this season and really made an impact on the court were the sophomores guard Marcellus Ross and forward Andrew Seager.
Both players were brand new to Rowan’s program this year after transferring from other schools and took advantage of their new opportunities. They were the Profs’ two leading scorers in points per game, which led to them each receiving All-NJAC honors.
Amidst his breakout season, Seager complimented the ways in which his teammates quickly learned to play together, as well as how easy that made it for him.
“My experience has been great here, and I love it here,” Seager said. “My teammates welcomed me with open arms. We had a lot of new guys come in, so we all had to learn to gel together. I think we did a good job of that and we’ll see what happens next.”
The “next” that Seager talks about will be next season, as twelve of his teammates from this season are eligible to return to the yellow and brown next year. Guards D’Andre Villmar, Hafeez Melvin and Conner Dickerson each averaged over twenty minutes a game this past season, and all of these players will return as seniors.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Damian Smith and freshman guard Josh Wright are two players that gave consistent production off the bench this season and are expected to grow as players and expand their roles on this team.
With current forward Marko Pantovic retiring from the club as a senior, there are going to be some available minutes for another big man on the team to fill. Juniors Stretch Hawkins, a forward, and guard Travis Holland, who both stand at 6’6” tall, are two current players that could fill that role.
Hawkins was consistent in his time on the court this past season as he shot 0.475 from the field, a team second-best, and was often asked to carry a large load on defense. Holland, on the other hand, appeared in nine games and showcased his ability to pick the opposing teams’ pockets with his 15 steals throughout the season.
It is truly difficult to predict how the future will unravel, but it appears as if Rowan men’s basketball has a bright and promising one ahead of them. The success from this past season paired with the high number of talented players expected to return to the team seems like a recipe for the future success of the program.
With a full offseason coming up and plenty of time to build even more team chemistry, expect Rowan to be very competitive next season in both the NJAC and NCAA tournaments.
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