By Cameron Docherty
Rutgers Newark Men’s Basketball is back again for another season. The Scarlet Raiders are gearing up for another run at the NJAC title and a birth in the D-III national championship. Under the guidance of 13th year head coach Joe Loughran, the team will look to continue on the momentum generated last season, one of their most successful seasons to date.
In 2012, the Raiders reeled off 20 wins, their highest total since 2009, going 13-5 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference in the process. On the back of their strong conference play, they marched to the NJAC championship where they came agonizingly close to their first ever title, losing 67-65 to #1 seeded Ramapo. Their great season produced an at-large bid to the NCAA D-III National Championship, where they were beaten by Christopher-Newport in the opening round.
This season, the team will aim for similar success. Despite the loss of key seniors Hussein Abdelmaksoud and Al’Don Muhammad, the Raiders are bringing back a large part of the nucleus of last seasons team, including junior guard/forward Christian Garcia. Garcia led the team in total minutes on the court throughout the season and was the only player to start all 28 games. He also led the team in scoring for the year. The Raiders are also bringing back 3-point leader Doze Ikwuegbu to a squad that has no seniors, which will make for a strong, united core of players.
The Scarlet Raiders open their season at the Williams Tip-Off tournament in Massachusetts this weekend. They begin conference play at Rutgers-Camden on Nov. 23rd, before they begin their December homestretch, playing all six games of the month in the comfort Golden Dome. On the back of a strong 13-1 home record last season, the Raiders will look to continue to be golden at the dome. Another game which will be circled on the players’ calendar will be the visit of Ramapo, January 8th. A victory over the Roadrunners would signify the teams intent to finally capture that elusive conference championship.
Head coach Joe Loughran will also look to lead the team to it’s 3rd ever NCAA Championship appearance (2010, 2013). Loughran was in charge of the Scarlet Raiders only two previous trips to the big dance. He has led Rutgers-Newark to 10 straight winning regular seasons, compiling seven NJAC Championship Tournament showings.
This team has built a foundation of unprecedented success over the past decade, and the school has as much reason as ever to get hyped about the upcoming campaign. The Scarlet Raiders look poised to make a run at a historic season, so get out to the Golden Dome on game nights and support our team.