After finishing last season with a disappointing 9-16 overall record and failing to make the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament for the first time since 2009, the men’s basketball team is looking forward to a fresh start in the 2014-2015 season.
Head coach Chuck McBreen said that this year’s team has been “cleaned up.” With only three returning players and 15 new faces on the roster, the team has high hopes of going back to the winning culture that Ramapo has come to expect from the men’s basketball team for the last 15 years.
McBreen and his Roadrunners won the NJAC Tournament Championship in 2012-2013, defeating Rutgers-Newark in a 67-65 thriller. The Championship was the third in Ramapo basketball history, all coming during McBreen’s tenure.
McBreen said the team prepared during the preseason by having a good work ethic, staying committed and maintaining a positive team attitude, considering the 15 new players who are still adjusting to the new philosophy.
“We have talent, but they are all still trying to learn the new system,” he said.
Compared to the lackadaisical mindset of last year’s team, this year there is a much more affirmative mentality according to McBreen, who is entering his 17th season as the Roadrunners’ bench boss. He said confidently that his team is more committed now and not afraid to work hard.
“In comparison to last year, the players are receptive to constructive criticism. Good things are going to happen eventually,” McBreen said.
McBreen also said that he is not worried about the team being undisciplined this season. The team’s two captains, senior Markese Tucker and junior Frank Nock, played a large part showing good leadership last season, and will be counted on to do even more this year in their roles as captains.
“Our biggest strength is probably Markese Tucker, a Division I big man coming down to Division III. He has a mature body and has played at a higher level,” McBreen said.
Tucker, who stands at 6-foot-5, played the past three seasons for Saint Peter’s University in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
McBreen said that he will also rely on Nock’s basketball senses and leadership skills to help the Roadrunners become competitive in the New Jersey Athletic Conference this season. The team failed to qualify for the tournament last season, with a 6-12 NJAC record, but is just a season removed from an NJAC championship.
“He understands the game and has a great basketball IQ—it brings a great strength to our team,” the coach said of Nock.
Last year’s rookie of the year, sophomore point guard George Sapp, is the quickest player on this year’s roster, according to the coach.
“His quickness is a great strength if he utilizes it,” McBreen said.
The team opens their season on the road against Wesley College on Nov. 15 and will host their first home game on Nov. 19 when they take on the College of Staten Island.
“I like this group a lot,” McBreen said. “Our biggest challenge will be getting them all on the same page right now, but the future looks really bright for us.”