For the first time since the 2019-2020 season, the Rowan Men’s Basketball team will be competing together. The Profs began their 2021-2022 season on the road this Friday, Nov. 12, against The United States Coast Guard Academy Bears with a 111-83 win.
Historically, the team has been a Rowan program that attracts a lot of fans. The team has won 11 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) titles since joining the conference in 1957, along with one National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Tournament crown that was won in 1996.
For the upcoming 2021-2022 season, expectations will be high for the Profs. Fans have been craving the return of Rowan basketball since February of 2020 when the team attempted at the NJAC championship, but ultimately fell to Stockton University 96-82 in the semifinals.
This year, however, Rowan fans will have to get familiar with the new landscape of the roster, as many of the well-known athletes of seasons past are no longer with the Profs.
Of the sixteen players currently listed on the Profs’ 2021-2022 roster, only five are returning players from the 2019-2020 team. This includes senior Marko Pantovic, juniors Connor Dickerson, Travis Holland and Ryan O’Leary and sophomore Damian Smith.
The team will have to rely on its experienced players to compliment and lead the newer guys. Many of the veterans have already stepped up throughout the off-season and Head Coach Joe Crispin has taken note of their dedication to the team.
“Guys like Conner and Marko have done a great job,” Coach Crispin said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Conner on the basketball front. He knows what’s in my head, as does Marko, so that makes a big difference. Those two guys have really stepped up and they’ve had the team prepared.”
While the players with seniority may have taken over as the leaders of the team, the coaching staff is still relying on new players to mold into their roles on the team.
“We have some really, really good players,” Coach Crispin said. “It’s just a matter of us putting it together, getting guys used to playing with each other. I call it ‘slow cooking.’ We want to win while it’s cooking, but we want to be our best later on.”
This is a concept that players like Ryan O’Leary are well aware of, as they have been working all off-season to be as prepared as possible for tipoff.
“As a team, since we have a lot of new guys, we did a lot of pick-ups during the offseason just to get team chemistry,” O’Leary said. “Chemistry and bonding mean a whole lot once you get into the game.”
That chemistry and off-season work t is going to be put to the test throughout the season.
Next, the Profs will host Marymount University on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for their home opener.
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