Rams net historic season despite first round exit

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Rams net historic season despite first round exit

Photo Editor / Mitch Bruehwiler

Photo Editor / Mitch Bruehwiler

Photo Editor / Mitch Bruehwiler

Photo Editor / Mitch Bruehwiler

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Just two years ago in the 2016-17 season, the Suffolk Men’s Basketball team concluded their year with a 7-19 record. Now, the script is flipped after concluding the 2018-19 regular campaign with a strong 18-7 record, the most in school history since going 19-6 in 1975-76.

The rebuild came into full swing by the end of the 2017-18 season. The Rams ended their year at 15-12, some eight wins better than the previous year.

To add, they even made a splash in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament, uprooting the third-seeded Saint Joseph’s University of Maine and fighting tooth-and-nail in the GNAC semifinals before falling to the No. 2 seed Johnson & Wales University, 80-74. The Rams ended their year having won four of their last five contests.

“We were very confident heading into this season and we’ve been able to show why,” said senior guard Mike Hagopian in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal.

Things began a bit rocky for the Rams entering the season. They started their year with a 5-5 record, but managed to rattle off 13 of their remaining 15 contests.

In the midst of a winning streak during the middle of the season, the Rams banded together and displayed some of their best team play of the season.

Photo Editor / Mitch Bruehwiler

“I think what separates us from every other team in the GNAC is our versatility and depth,” said Hagopian. “We have a ton of guys that are capable of going off.”

The Rams were led by Hagopian throughout the majority of his historic career. Hagopian stands alone as the most decorated shooter from long range at the university.  His 233 career three-pointers, which is the most in Suffolk history, paved the way to 1,000 point milestone.

Guard Thomas Duffy was also a key component for the Rams, leading the team in points per game (15.6) and assists per game (4.2).

Though they have had some standout performances through the years, it has been the coaching that has truly made the engine go.

“Coach Juron has done an excellent job of pushing us to be the best we can be both on and off of the court,” said junior forward Steven DiPrizio in a recent interview with The Journal. “He always makes sure we are extremely prepared for every game that we play, and has done an amazing job of leading the very talented group we have.”

After their best regular season performance since 1976, the Rams came into the GNAC Tournament with the No. 2 seed, hosting the seventh-seeded Saint Joseph’s University of Connecticut, coached by none other than three-time NCAA National Champion at the University of Connecticut, Jim Calhoun.

After a back-and-forth battle on Tuesday consisting of four lead-changes, the Blue Jays came out on top in an upset, 95-84, in the GNAC Quarterfinals.

While Duffy and the Rams always had a knack for getting things done offensively, play on the both sides of the ball remained crucial throughout the season.

“The main factor for our team this season has been our defense, it is what has separated us from the other teams and has put us in a position to be successful each night we play,” said DiPrizio

Though the season ended on a sour note, Duffy’s team-leading 21 points were sufficient enough to reach the 1,000 point milestone. He is the first junior to reach this feat since 2008.

“It’s a great feeling for sure, it comes from a ton of hard work and dedication,” said Duffy. “[The achievement] it was bittersweet to watch the season come to an end because it was one special team.”

Even with the unexpected first round exit, this season has been a building block towards the greater goal of winning a GNAC title. With returning players like Duffy, Diprizio, Alex Jacovides and Brenden Mulson; Suffolk will be primed for another run.

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