TCNJ tries to focus on league-leading Montclair State
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Montclair State that was on the mind of The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team this week as it struggled to deal with the tragic loss of a friend and classmate, Michael Sot, this week.
The tragic accident has taken a toll on the entire campus and on Saturday the basketball team will look for a way to put it together against New Jersey Athletic Conference leader Montclair State at Packer Hall in a 4 p.m. start.
Over the last few games, the Lions (4-3, 3-1 NJAC) have been playing well and possess a three-game winning streak. The Red Hawks (81, 4-0 NJAC) are coming off an impressive win over preseason favorite New Jersey City and have also won three straight.
“Their size and athleticism might be the best in the country,” said TCNJ coach Matt Goldsmith. “They are huge and extremely athletic. The big thing we have to do is rebound well, if we can do that we will be in the game. We are excited for the challenge and can’t wait.”
The Red Hawks are outscoring the opposition by 12.2 points per game and have a league-best 13.2 rebounding advantage.
On the boards, the Lions will look to Ryan Jensen, who grabs 6.7 caroms per game, Randy Walko with 5.7 and Jordan Glover with 5.6.
While Walko has been a help on the boards, his offense has teams paying attention.
He leads the conference with 21 points per game and has been the catalyst for the Lions in wins over Rowan, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden.
“We all knew Randy could score with the best of them,” said Goldsmith. “What has really been nice to see has been in improved defensive focus and effort. When he is engaged on that end, 20 points come easy to him.”
Right behind Walko in the scoring column is MSU’s Akbar Hoffman, who averages 20.3 points. Hoffman matched his career high of 31 points in the Red Hawks’ win over NJCU.
This is a game that will feature two former Lawrence High teammates as TCNJ’s Jordan Glover with tangle with MSU’s Myles MitchellWhite. Mitchell-White is the reigning NJAC Rookie of the Year.
Montclair State is a team receiving votes in the D3hoops.com poll. Don’t overlook the Lions, though. “This team is definitely starting to click a bit more in the last couple weeks,” said Goldsmith. “We started off with a brutal schedule, two top-25 teams. Then Rowan was 4-0, Newark as 4-1 and Stockton is playing well. I am happy with our progress as a group and expect it to continue as the season move forward.”
TCNJ’s Randy Walko leads the NJAC in scoring at 21 points per game.