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NJCU Taking Next Man Up Approach to 2017-18 Men’s Basketball Season

Gothic Knights were selected third in the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

The transition from year-to-year or season-to-season can be at times be tough as school go through graduations of senior leaders. This year, New Jersey City University is experiencing that. However, confidence remains high for one of the most successful programs in school history.

The Gothic Knights lost seven players from 2016-17, including five seniors and three starters. Only 34 percent of its scoring offense and 35 percent of its rebounding return this season. All that means for the Gothic Knights is, next-man-up.

Luckily for head coach Marc Brown, there seems to be plenty of incoming talent to join some key returning players. Brown is entering his 11th season as leader of the program. The second winningest coach in program history has no plans of taking a step backward.

“The program is right where I want it to be and right where I expected it to be,” Brown said in an athletic department release. “It is very difficult recruiting in this day and age. But we as a staff have done a really good job the last couple of years.”

The Gothic Knights must replace First-Team All-NJAC and All-Region standout Jalen Harris and two-time NJAC Defensive Player of the Year Chinwe Wosu. Harris and Wosu were the clear team leaders the past few seasons.

Replacing them as the face of the team is sophomore power forward Sam Toney. He was named NJAC Rookie of the Year last year after being named NJAC Rookie of the Week eight out of the 16 weeks during the season. Toney was voted the Atlantic Region Rookie of the Year, the ECAC Metro Rookie of the Year and named to the national All-Freshman Team by D-III News.

“In my opinion, he’s the most talented player in the league,” said Brown. “I’m looking forward to a breakout season from Sam. He’s a great scorer and rebounder and has improved his defense tremendously.”

Junior Shaquan Worthy takes over at point guard for two-year starter Ata Robinson and junior Yuri Brutus takes over at center for Wosu. Worthy, while expected to be the floor general, has become most aggressive offensively and Brutus has played in all 58 games his first two seasons, so both bring plenty of experience.

James Julius and Lavrone Green round out the expected starting lineup. Green was a standout at Montclair Star and has transferred to NJCU from Ramapo. He could be in line for a big season as he knows the league and brings plenty of experience. Green can be lethal from long-range and should be one of the teams’ top scorers this season. Julius can play all five positions on the floor and is arguably the teams most complete player.

Freshman point guard Kamal Williams and classmate, center, Chika Wosu will see plenty of court time. Wosu is the younger brother of Chinwe Wosu. He is one of the most skilled big men Brown has ever recruited while Williams is an explosive player with the ball in his hands.

The only two seniors on the roster are point guard Ruben Acosta and shooting guard Gene Campbell.

It’s become the norm for the Gothic Knights to play a tough regular season schedule. To this point, it has helped the team be ready for postseason play. This season is no different.

The schedule sees NJCU potentially face four teams that won conference championships a year ago – all of whom reached the NCAA Tournament. In addition to preseason No. 5 ranked Ramapo, which reached the NCAA Second Round last year, the Gothic Knights play Skyline champion Farmingdale State and GNAC winner Albertus Magnus. They could also potentially have a meeting with preseason No. 14 Christopher Newport in a tournament meeting. Christopher Newport were the champions of the Capital Athletic Conference and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season.

“The schedule is very tough,” said Brown. “We have only one non-conference home game and two very good tournaments. I love to schedule tough teams.”

The Gothic Knights begin play Wednesday (Nov. 15), playing host to Steven’s Institute of Technology. NJCU enters the season with an 18-game regular season home court winning streak intact at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center. The Gothic Knights went 12-0 at home last season.

NJCU was selected third in the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll behind Ramapo and Stockton. They will be looking to reach 20 wins for the third consecutive season.



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