Last year, the Rowan men’s basketball team turned things around compared to their 2015-2016 campaign. In his first season as head coach, Joe Crispin turned a 9-16 season to a 17-10 finish and made the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament after a year away from postseason competition. The team was eliminated in the second round by top-seeded and eventual NJAC Champions Ramapo College.
Crispin, a former NBA player himself, was able to learn from one of the best to ever coach the game, Phil Jackson.
“Although I was there for only a couple months, I learned a lot from Phil,” Crispin said. “That included being taught the triangle offense, spacing out the floor and teaching simple things such as footwork. His coaching fundamentals gave me ideas for my own coaching practices.”
The sophomore head coach must’ve had his hands full throughout the off season, as many spots are to be filled. Joey Montalvo, Ben Hills, Gary Carthan and captains Josh Borrelli and Shawn Wilson were all seniors last season. Wilson led the team and the NJAC in scoring last season with 18.4 points per game. He also led the team in field goals and three-point percentage. Wilson had 20 or more points on nine occasions, including a season-high 30 versus Farmingdale State and Widener University. Rowan was 7-2 in those nine games. Borrelli scored just over six points per-game and Carthan led the team in blocks, respectively.
This season they will need someone to not only clog up the middle but make clutch shots and produce consistent results. Although senior TJ Booth is listed on the team website as a center, Crispin has yet to decide on a starting center, let alone a starting lineup.
“I don’t even have a center yet,” Crispin said. “I just call them [all his players] guards or forwards, and even the forwards play a lot like guards.”
He went on to describe Booth as “a forward who is a good face in the basket, a tough kid to guard and athletic.” Crispin also noted that he thinks Booth will have a good year. In place of Wilson, sophomore Tomas Malmsjo could make the move from guard to forward.
The brown and gold also welcome back captains and brotherly duo Nick and Rob DePersia. Nick was second on the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game and was first in the NJAC with 58 steals. Rob led the team and was second in the conference in assists per game with 145.
Rowan introduces three freshman, Walter Harvey, Ryan Legler and Jake Petrik. All three are guards. After graduating from St. Augustine Prep School, Harvey made Cape Atlantic second team all-honors and was an All-Cape Atlantic All-Star. Legler graduated from Wildwood Catholic High School where he was a team captain for three years. Petrik graduated from Gloucester City High School, earning All-Conference first team honors.
Sophomore forward Austin Kearney transfers from Assumption College and junior guard/forward Ramon Wright comes in from West Chester University.
The team begins their season on Friday at the Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament in Selinsgrove, PA.
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