Rowan Men’s Basketball Heats up as the Regular Season Starts Winding Down

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Josh Wright taking a corner shot. Wright has been a key part of Rowan's men's basketball team off the bench. Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

The current season has been one of the most unique in the history of Rowan’s men’s basketball team. While there have been some bumps in the road along the way, the Profs are sitting comfortably with an 18-4 record with two games left in the regular season. 

After opting out of the season last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rowan entered this season with an itch to play and compete. Back in early November, junior guard Ryan O’Leary set the bar high.

“National championship is the goal,” O’Leary said. “You’ve always got to set the bar high and at the end of the year you just got to evaluate, but I think we can win the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and compete for a national championship.”

Before Rowan will have a chance to compete for the NCAA national championship, they will have to close out their regular season and compete in the NJAC tournament.

Rowan is currently the second seed in the NJAC standings with an 11-4 conference record, only one game back of the 18-4 (12-3 NJAC) Stockton Ospreys. Their final two regular-season games will be played on Rowan’s home court in the Esbjornson Gym against NJAC rivals Ramapo College and Montclair State University. 

However, those games could not be coming at a better time for Rowan, as they have won three of their last four games and have had many of their players heating up as of late.

One key player generating momentum for the offense has been freshman guard Josh Wright off of the bench, who has averaged 15 points per game on 46.7% shooting off the bench. 

“When [Wright] scores, I’m not surprised,” Head Coach Joe Crispin said. “I’ll put it that way and leave it at that because, well, that’s just how good he is.”

Alongside Wright, sophomore guard Damian Smith and junior forward Stretch Hawkins have been able to make their impacts on the defensive side of the ball, with ten combined steals between the two over the last four games. 

As the bench has gotten hot at the right time, the starting lineup has continued to do much of the same that has helped them get to this point of the season.

Sophomore guard Marcellus Ross and junior guard Hafeez Melvin have taken over a dynamic scoring duo in the backcourt, while sophomore forward Andrew Seager has been a dominant force down low for the Profs. 

While the NJAC playoffs are on the horizon and a national championship opportunity looms in the back of the players’ minds, the Profs still have two more home games to go before closing out their regular season.

How will Rowan be able to close out the season and how far will they be able to go in both the NJAC and NCAA tournaments? 

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