Men’s Basketball Returning To The ECAC Playoffs

By Ryan Gaydos

After winning a combined 14 games between the 2011-12 season and the 2012-13 season, the Kean University Men’s Basketball team ended up with 14 wins total this season and made a deep run in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament before losing to eventual champion Richard Stockton College by one point in the semifinals. The Cougars have found itself back in a postseason tournament for the first time 2005-06 and for the first time under head coach Rob Kurzinsky.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to compete for the ECAC Metro Championship” Kurzinsky said. “All athletes and coaches strive to play in the big tournament at the end of the year and unfortunately we came up a little short. This year’s ECAC features 25, 21 and 19 win teams and whoever comes out on top Sunday afternoon will have had to play very good basketball to earn this championship.”

Kean was awarded the sixth seed Monday in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Metro Division tournament. The Cougars will have to hit the road to take on No. 3 Mount St. Mary Wednesday night.

The Knights were 21-6 this season but lost to No. 19 Purchase College in the semifinals of the Skyline Conference tournament 100-82. The Knights are led by Donte Howell who averages 14.1 points per game. Knights head coach Ryan Kadlubowski has reached the ECAC Metro Division tournament in four of his five years of being the head coach. Mount Saint Mary did win it all in 2012.

“We must contain Howell and shorten his drives, limit the offensive board opportunities to their two best, 6’8 Joe Henain and 6’3 Chris Pisciotta, and keep them out of rhythm on offense,” Kurzinsky said.

It is not going to be an easy task to win on the road for the Cougars. The Knights are 11-1 at home this season and the Cougars are 5-10 away from Harwood Arena. However, behind the senior leadership of Michael Burton, Ali Mix, Xavier Fuller and Kyle Latorre, you never know what could happen with this Kean team.

For a team that was picked eighth in the NJAC preseason poll, Kean has shocked a lot of its peers by performing well this season. Another upset could be in the making.

“Our culture is built around daily improvement,” Kurzinsky said. “Therefore, we speak every year about playing our best ball at the end of the season and we certainly feel as though this team is doing just that. Our guys have prepared well and put themselves in a position to get to 1-0 on Wednesday night.”

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