The Brown and Gold field their own “Fab Four.”
Four starting seniors whose skill sets complement one another perfectly. All with their eyes on the prize, sacrificing personal ambitions for the good of the collective team. This unit has grown together over recent years and bring a passion for the game.
They weren’t always the free-wheeling, polished leaders we see today though. They didn’t always possess the keen understanding of each other and the comfort of working within the system that they currently demonstrate on a nightly basis.
Some of them weren’t even in Glassboro a couple of years ago.
DaRon Curry played Division I ball at Fairleigh Dickinson his freshman year.
Ramon Wright played for junior college Valley Forge Military Academy in 2015, then spent time at Division II West Chester before transferring to Rowan last year.
Senior rotational player Teirique Robinson spent the 2015-2016 season playing for another school. At Manor College in Pennsylvania, Robinson showed himself to be a gritty player down low who works for everything he gets. After one year with the Brown and Gold, Robinson spent a year away from the program, working to have his eligibility reinstated.
For Curry, the transition wasn’t an easy one.
“We didn’t know, and you can ask DaRon, like DaRon didn’t know who DaRon was either,” said head coach Joe Crispin. “One of the reasons he was transferring [was that] he wasn’t sure about himself. ‘Am I a guard, am I a point guard?’”
Wright brought a sense of uniqueness into the rotation when he arrived. A sort of flexibility that Crispin has used to Rowan’s advantage and one that has the team locked in as the second seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament.
“Ramon is special,” Crispin said. “And if you just kind of look on the surface of things, you wont get it. He just does so much, and he enables you to do a lot more.”
The only two seniors who’ve experienced the entire process; from 9-16 their freshman year, to a coaching change their sophomore year and now being a force in the conference, are the DePersia brothers. Rob and Nick.
And they made sure to welcome the new guys just like Curry with open arms. To show them that Rowan sports aren’t just that. They are a family.
“He’s a great worker so he came in and fit right in… he found a family,” said Nick DePersia of Curry.
The two are the premier brother-tandem in Rowan athletics. They have started a combined 200 of 201 games they’ve played since the start of their freshman year. Nick, the team’s leading scorer, and Rob, the 41.5 percent three-point shooter, are prepared to leave a lasting legacy through the halls of Esbjornson gymnasium.
“It’s definitely cool to kind of leave your mark on the program,” Nick said. “We can say we did that and try to make it the new norm for Rowan.”
While they look forward to the seeing what the team’s younger players can bring to the table in future seasons, it’s important for the brothers to pay homage to those who helped set the stage for the current success the team enjoys.
“The biggest influence those guys were to me was just watching their careers come to the end and them just saying, ‘Don’t take anything for granted because it goes by fast,’” Rob said. “I know it’s such a cliche saying, everybody says it. My parents always say it, but when you actually see people go through it you’re like ‘Okay I’ve got to work that much harder, and I don’t want it to end like that.’”
Crispin can identify with how the veterans of the past helped shape his current core.
Crispin has seen for himself as well the impact that former seniors have had on his current team. Before becoming head coach in 2016, he was the assistant coach for both men’s and women’s teams. It’s safe to say he’s seen his fair share of hello’s and goodbye’s.
“I had a group of seniors my first year that were just phenomenal,” Crispin said. “Shawn Wilson was a phenomenal player, who had incredible confidence and he understood what I wanted immediately. The swagger, the confidence, the risk. Shawn was all about it immediately. And Robby and Nick fed off that, 100 percent, because they are about that.”
As he continued, the third-year head coach’s eyes lit up talking about his first set of seniors.
The Joey Montalvo’s.
The Josh Borelli’s.
The Gary Carthan’s.
The Ben Hill’s.
“They were just awesome dudes,” Crispin said. “Team guys. They were positive. They worked hard everyday…they were winners.”
The DePersia twins are aware the end is near, whether their ultimate goals are realized or not. They’re ready to pass their knowledge along to the next generation of players.
“Connor Dickerson is a really good player,” Rob said. “He’ll do a great job next year. Ryan Legler, Austin Kearney, Marko [Pantovic], Matt Green. There’s so many guys that contribute a lot this year but don’t touch the ball since the four of us dominate the ball so much.”
Nick echoed that sentiment and pointed to the value of increased practice reps in the growth process of the aforementioned ball players.
“They have shifted our identity in terms of what we do and how we play,” Crispin said. “There’s two qualities I’ve seen in this group: empathy and humility. Just being there for each other.”
With a week remaining in the regular season and their basketball mortality at the door, the DePersia’s can take a look at their careers together and be proud of what they’ve helped to build.
“It’ll be bittersweet,” Nick said. “Sad that it’s over, but happy we chose to go here together, to make this run that we’re currently making right now.”
“Looking back, it’s going to be awesome to say we’re a part of it,” Rob said. “Wherever Rowan is in 10 years, I have no idea what level, how it looks. Probably three times this size with the pace it’s going…it’s going to be sad, I loved my four years here. I wish I had four more.”
The longest-tenured players on the team with 2,329 career points between them aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet, as they know that along with the NJAC Tournament coming up, an NCAA DIII berth is possible too.
“Even if we do fall short, I’ll be proud of where we are leaving the program,” Nick said. “Just to look back at the journey that we’ve taken, not just where the final destination is.”
Rob, on the other hand, wasn’t as ready to accept the idea they might come up short of their ultimate goal.
“Alright, first off, I do not think we’re going to fall short,” he said with a chuckle.
Allowing himself to consider the possibility their goals aren’t realized, he pointed to the next group.
“Okay, now it’s your turn,” Rob said. “Let’s finish it.”
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