Although the Christmas tree is already decorated in Rowan men’s basketball head coach Joe Cassidy’s home, he says it will still be a couple weeks before he can start to settle into the holiday spirit.
With a 2-6 (0-2 NJAC) record to start the season, Cassidy’s squad has some catching up to do heading in to the bulk of conference play. 16 of the Profs’ remaining 17 opponents are in the NJAC, and Cassidy says he hopes his team will be up to the task.
“From my standpoint I would like them to feel like its time to regroup and come into these NJAC games with a fresh approach,” Cassidy said. “If you want to make the playoffs you have to be successful in the league, so we really need to put November behind us and start over for December.”
Even with almost all their conference games still to come, the team feels as though it has already traversed the hardest part of their schedule. Senior forward Chris Gross, who is currently second on the team in rebounds and scoring, said there was a lot of good to take away from the tough slate.
“I think that Salisbury game was huge,” Gross said. “They’re top 20 in the country right now, and we had them by 20 points and let that slip away. Then you look at the La Salle game: in the first half we were out-rebounding them, going for loose balls, playing tough and doing the little things. Then in the second half we kind of took our foot off the gas, so if we can fix that we can definitely make some noise in the conference.”
Rowan looked like a very different second-half team against Rutgers-Camden, but still took their second conference loss on the year in a 71-70 thriller. It was a big game for junior forward Shawn Wilson, who chipped in 18 points off the bench.
For Cassidy, one of the biggest issues with his squad has been their offensive efficiency, which he says has hindered their scoring and increased turnovers. A performance like Wilson’s on Wednesday night should certainly earn him more time.
“I think sometimes we have some guys that hold the ball to long and aren’t looking to make the next pass right away,” Cassidy said. “When we have good ball energy our offense seems to be much more efficient.”
Another reason for the lack of chemistry in the Profs’ attack could stem from the multitude of new faces in the locker room. Freshman Rob DePersia and his twin brother, Nick, are both featured in the starting lineup with three seniors.
While Rob DePersia says he and his brother are usually in sync with each other, as they’ve started together throughout their high school and college careers, he admits he’s still getting used to the collegiate style of play.
“We have to shoot better than we’ve been doing,” DePersia said. “One of our mottos is ‘shoot lights out’, and we haven’t been doing that, but we’re getting there. I think we had six games in ten days and that really wore us out, so we’re starting to get our legs back and we should be ready for the NJAC.”
The brown and gold have three more conference games to play before winter break, but Gross says they just need to look at one game at a time to get back on track.
“The big thing is, when you lose a couple games, you have to get the guys together and keep everyone motivated,” Gross said. “You want to play team ball, and when you play good team ball everything starts clicking and a lot of good things start happening.”
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