After playing a solid regular season the Suffolk University Men’s Basketball team made it to the playoffs of the GNAC championship. Here they faced a tough Johnson & Wales team that recently defeated No.1 seeded Albertus Magnus. The Rams lost to the Wildcats earlier this season, and the same thing happened last night when the Rams lost 71-72 to the impressive Wildcats. This GNAC quarterfinal was a true thriller of a playoff game in which the Rams played a fantastic two-half scoring 49 points, but the struggles in the first half sealed the victory for Johnson & Wales in the end. The essential game that the entire season had been leading up to was lost by one point. The team worked very hard all season to reach this GNAC quarterfinal, but this game did not end the same as the 2002-03 GNAC championship game between the two teams, when the Rams beat the Wildcats to win it all. With talented players like Colin Halpin, Matt Pepdjonovic (who recently became the all-time GNAC rebounder), Chris Torres, Caleb Unni, Matt Powers and Jhonneris Mendez who can all make a difference in the game, and good team chemistry it was hard to realize the defeat, but in the end the Wildcats had a better day and got their victory. Even though the Rams lost last night, they learned a lot from this season and they proved that they could play as a team and fight for every single point.
A player who fully understands the meaning of “team play” is freshman Caleb Unni. In his 25 games for Suffolk he put up 75 assists, which makes him the leading “assist man” on the team with an average of three assists per game. Unni has had an outstanding debut season for the Rams in which he helped his team tremendously in both offense and defense. In 769 minutes of play he scored 289 points making his average 11.6 points per game. Unni has been a huge force defensively as well having 83 defensive rebounds. Unni has played basketball for a long time and he talked about how it all started: “I started playing in the second grade. I watched the NBA and I was especially amazed by Paul Pierce. Both my mom and especially my dad influenced me to play basketball” said Unni.
Speaking about the Emerson game Unni said ”It was a heavily fought game. In the first half we would make one pass and then shoot. Because of that we lost the ball a lot. In the second half we played more as a team and we got close to winning the game.” The intensely close Emerson game was lost in the last couple of seconds, just like the the Johnson & Wales game last night
A loss in the playoffs is always bitter, especially when you are two points short from a victory, but looking back at the season as a whole the team has reasons to be proud of their performance. Nobody will forget the victories against Albertus Magnus and Saint Joseph, and the 100-point victory against New England College. The Rams improved from eight season victories last year to 10 season victories this season.