Rowan men’s basketball prepares for return to conference tournament

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At this time last year, the Rowan University men’s basketball team’s record was 9-16 overall. It’s been a complete change of tides for the group this season, as they’ve flipped that campaign on its head.

Following their most recent game against Ramapo, the Profs are 16-9 record and will be hosting a game in the New Jersey Athletic Conference playoffs.

A healthy part of the team’s success is to the credit of first-year head coach Joe Crispin. The former standout player at Pitman High School and later Penn State University, Crispin spent some time in the NBA, where he played with the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. He then took his knowledge back home to take on the assistant coaching position for both the women’s and men’s basketball teams at Rowan.

Crispin carried that role before being announced as the head coach of the men’s team prior to this season. Crispin summarized his first year with the team with the words “identity and foundation.”

“I think that’s what everything else flows from,” Crispin said. “Winning, recruiting, and players knowing what to do in the offseason all comes from that. Everything starts with ‘Who are we, and what do we want to get to?’ I think we’ve succeeded in that respect, and I feel good about it. From a staff, player and team perspective, we’ve done a good job of learning and getting better.”

This season, the brown and gold have been led by sophomore guards Rob and Nick DePersia, along with senior forward Shawn Wilson. The trio ranks among the top-25 scoring players in the NJAC, with Wilson claiming the throne.

It’s been a standout season for the DePersia brothers, who have taken a great role of leadership throughout the year.

“This year has been a great stepping stone from the last,” said Rob. “We were pretty young last year, and now everyone is buying in to the plan here. It’s not hard to be a leader when everyone believes in the same plan.”

“Coach said that … by our senior year, we want to be the best team that we can be,” said Nick. “I think we are taking the steps into the right direction for that.”

The culmination of the team’s work has given them a heaping dose of momentum heading into Saturday’s playoff game in Glassboro. Crispin is prepared for the task at hand.

“The way I look at it is you’re going to have to beat three good teams,” said Crispin. “The more I look at the country, the more I believe our conference is better than many people think from what I’ve seen. It’s just a matter of going out and going for it. Winning is an interesting thing. You can’t control a lot that goes into it, so you focus on what you can control. You have to put yourself in position to win and I believe we’ve done that the last couple of weeks.”

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