Rowan Men’s Basketball hopes to turn regular season success into NJAC gold

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Marcellus Ross drives past a NJCU player. Ross is one of the five Profs averaging plus ten points this season. Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

Since the calendar has switched over to 2023, the only thing slowing down Rowan men’s basketball are the off days. 

After a 100-97 loss to Maryville College in the Randolph-Macon Tournament on Dec. 29, the team has rattled off 11 straight wins — putting themselves in a prime position to not only capture the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) regular season title but to potentially make a deep tournament run. 

“I’d like to keep that streak going,” Head Coach Joe Crispin said. “I’d like to go all of 2023 without losing, that’d be nice.” 

The Profs’ ability to score at will has been one of the biggest factors in their successful season. While many teams may have just one scoring option, the Profs have a multitude of players they can rely on. Five guys average double figures for the team and junior guard Marcellus Ross believes it’s the reason for the team’s success. 

“Every game it can be someone else being our leading scorer, you never know,” Ross said. “Some people could come off the bench and have 20 every night and our stars could have single digits and that’s just how good we are. We’re that deep,” Ross said. 

While their high-powering offense has stolen the show during this recent stretch, the team’s chemistry is one of the biggest reasons why the team is averaging nearly 95 points in the new calendar year. 

“The way we play, I don’t call a lot of stuff, it’s just guys playing so the better they know each other, the more confident they are together, the better we are so I think that’s been the case overall the second part of the season,” Coach Crispin said. “I think if we can continue that, that makes us pretty dangerous the rest of the year.” 

From the opening tipoff against Swarthmore College to their recent victory against Kean University, Ross and the Profs have felt the chemistry improve every day. 

“I feel like the chemistry throughout the season has gotten better and better every day, and when I say every day, I really mean it,” Ross said. “We started off at the beginning of the season, we lost a heartbreaker in our opinion to a top team in the country right now [Swarthmore], and our chemistry wasn’t even that good and we still almost beat them. So now, we are undefeated in the conference and it feels great. Every day we just get better and better.” 

The Profs have run through the NJAC so far, as they have a perfect 15-0 record with just three games left, putting the team in a spot to clinch the NJAC regular season title with a win against New Jersey Coty University (NJCU) on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

With the team seeking its first NJAC Championship since the 2018-19 season, senior guard Connor Dickerson, who was a freshman on that team, believes that while both teams are equally talented that this year’s team offers something better.

“This group is definitely deeper and they can bring it almost every single night more than the freshmen year team could,” Dickerson said. “Both groups are just so talented that it would be hard for me to say which one is better than the other.” 

As the regular season winds down to a close, Coach Crispin believes the team needs to focus on three certain aspects of the game if they want to keep the win streak alive and make a run into late March. 

“The biggest thing I’m harping on with these guys is that if we want to keep winning in 2023, it’s going to be defense, rebounding, and consistency on the game plan,” Coach Crispin said. “Losing Stretch [Hawkins] has hurt us defensively, and our defense has been good enough. I think it’s been good when we needed it, we need it to be a little more consistent here the next month if we want to play for another month.”

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