Riddled with injuries, men’s basketball struggles

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Despite rough stretches, young core gaining invaluable in-game experience
Article by: Mike Giannattasio

“We need to win a few more league games to achieve our goal of making the playoffs. We get better every day…we could be dangerous as soon as we can put a complete team together.”

4-0, the Suffolk University men’s basketball squad has managed only one win in their last eleven games. The team currently stands at 5-11 this season with nine games remaining on the schedule.

Suffolk’s last win came on Jan. 9—an 84-74 overtime victory against Lasell. It was their first win since Nov. 24, when they edged out Salve Regina, 73-71.

The head coach of the Rams, Adam Nelson, said the team has been ravaged by injuries this season, which has affected their play in games.

“We have had more guys miss games this season than in any of my five seasons here,” said Nelson, who has been the men’s head basketball coach and assistant director of Suffolk athletics since August 2005. “We have had guys miss time with a concussion, appendectomy and ankle sprain, as well as other types of injuries.”

Nelson added that the team has not been able to make key plays towards the end of games, which has resulted in losses.

“We haven’t executed well at the end of games and that’s my fault,” said Nelson. “We need to teach our guys and put them in the end of game situations more in practice as well as demand execution. We gave away three games over the last ten days because we failed to execute at the end and that falls on me.”

Although the Rams have not won many games this season, the group consists of many young and talented players who will be able to help the team succeed for years to come. One of these players is Matt Pepdjonovic, who has been the Great Northeast Athlete Conference Rookie of the Week four times already this year.

The optimistic coach said there will be many great years to come for the Rams.

“We have a great bunch of guys and the future looks bright,” said Nelson. “They all work hard and are willing to listen and improve. It makes it fun to work with these guys everyday knowing how good we will be if we continue to progress like we are.”

Suffolk travels to Johnson & Wales on Thursday in need of a win. The Rams lost to Johnson & Wales in their first meeting, 95-90 on Dec. 5, and Nelson hopes they can have better luck this time.

“Johnson & Wales University is a tough place to play on the road,” said Nelson. “We need to compete and execute for 40 minutes. We need to be focused down there and handle their pressure better than the first time we played them.”

With many games left to be played this season, Nelson hopes that the club can still reach their desired destination.

“We need to win a few more league games to achieve our goal of making the playoffs,” said Nelson. “We get better every day in practice, so we could be dangerous as soon as we can put a complete game together.”

”Brian Smusz had some big blocked shots that were key towards the end of the games,” noted Rose. “I think everyone would agree in saying he’s one of our unsung heroes in the defensive zone.”

Since the tournament, the team has hit a bit of a rough patch, going just 1-3 over their last four games with their lone win coming against Western New England College, but Gilonna still has high expectations for this team.

“Tying nationally ranked Curry College and playing Wentworth down to the wire makes me think we can make a serious run in the ECAC tournament,” he said. “This is one of the toughest leagues in the country, but our strong non-conference schedule hopefully will have us ready for league play.”