In 18 games so far this season, the Montclair State men’s basketball team is currently 9-9 overall. It is the same exact record the team had in 18 games last season. The Red Hawks currently sit in the fourth spot of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). The top six teams make the NJAC playoffs. It has come down to the last stretch of games for the Red Hawks. There are seven games remaining in the regular season and they are all NJAC games.
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the Red Hawks were defeated 80-68 by Ramapo College, the top team in the NJAC. Ramapo came into the night 10-1 in the conference, 17-1 overall and winners of three in a row. The Red Hawks played a closely contested, competitive first half, but fell short in the final minutes of the game.
The Red Hawks had a convincing 71-45 victory on Wednesday, Jan. 19 against Kean University at the Panzer Athletic Center. It was one of their best games of the season, as they shot 43 percent from the field. They out-rebounded Kean 46-27, including 16-4 on the offensive glass.
Jaleel Christmon had one of his best games of the season. The 6’7” center put up 14 points along with eight rebounds. He dominated in the paint and showed off a few finessed spin moves in the post.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, the team played at home once again as they hosted Rutgers-Newark, who came into the Panzer Athletic Center with a 5-13 overall record and a 4-7 record in the NJAC. The Red Hawks led the Knights 26-20 at halftime after a low-scoring first half.
The second half became a disaster for the Red Hawks. They scored only 15 points in the second half. Senior Brandon Channer led the way with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.
Junior Vince Anfield has taken up the majority of the starting point guard role for the Red Hawks. After a solid start to 2017, Anfield posted 10 points in the win against Kean, but went scoreless against Rutgers-Newark. Senior Daniel Ramis has seen a lot of time in the starting lineup as well. Ramis can bring the outside punch to the game with his ability to stretch the floor and hit threes. He’s averaging just under eight points per game this season and shooting a team-best 33 percent from downtown. Both players have started the past six games, before coming off the bench as subs for the game against Ramapo College.
The team likes to run a lot in the open court, and being able to force turnovers helps tremendously. Live ball turnovers are what they look for. The Red Hawks often like to have a defender apply fullcourt pressure on the opposing ball handler. During half court defensive sets, they sometimes apply a double team on the offensive player, forcing a turnover and converting it to fast break points.
As the season nears its end, every game is crucial. Next up for the Red Hawks is a key matchup against Rowan University on Saturday, Jan. 28. With Montclair’s loss to Ramapo and Rowan’s victory over Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday, Jan. 25, Rowan moved up to fourth place in the NJAC. The Red Hawks will move back up to the fourth spot if they defeat Rowan University on Saturday.