It's finally over...NJIT finishes the season 0-29
Well, if you're going to do something there's no sense in doing it halfway, right? Unfortunately for the New Jersey Institute of Technology, their move up to Division I has been a lesson in why you shouldn't rush things. Saturday, on a day highlighted due to Bracket Busters weekend along with the 1 vs. 2 matchup of Memphis and Tennesse, the Highlanders made their way onto "SportsCenter", and not for anything good. Here's the following exchange between Jay Harris and Stan Verrett on the 6 PM edition of the show:
Stan: I bet those kids are good with a slide ruler.
Jay: I didn't even know they had a team.
Stan: They didn't even know they had a team.
Wow. Such is life when you set the NCAA record for the most losses in a winless season with your 29th defeat. In the 76-50 loss at Utah Valley State (another provisional member), the Highlanders followed the familiar script of getting blitzed in the first half. But at least they continue to compete, being outscored by the Wolverines by two points in the second half. Head coach Jim Casciano announced his resignation on Wednesday due to the futility, and freshman guard Jheryl Wilson seems to be willing to do just about anything to remove himself from the situation or any reminders of it (Trust me, Jheryl, even if you transfer people are going to mention where you transferred from and will ask you "weren't you on that team...").
In the Associated Press recap of today's game, Wilson stated that he's "just hoping to forget about it in a month or two". But how does one simply erase a season like this from their mind?
The season started off with two bad omens: a 70-28 loss to Manhattan in the opener, followed by Coach Casciano taking a 12-game leave of absence due to health issues. Former Syracuse standout Wendell Alexis took over in his stead, and I guarantee he never saw anything like this playing for Jim Boeheim (had he seen something like this, I don't think Coach Boeheim would still be employed by the school). Not really sure where you turn to fill this opening, and who would take it (according to the article, AD Lenny Kaplan has received 30+ calls regarding the position), but I guess we'll have to just wait and see.
Unfortunately for NJIT, things may get worse before they get better. In addition to the new regime, they are still without conference affiliation. The league that would be the best fit in regards to the institutions and geography would probably be the Northeast Conference. But with Bryant University (located in Smithfield, Rhode Island) slated to join the league in 2012, the NEC has twelve members. I don't see how the Highlanders would fit into the MAAC or Patriot (although the Patriot does only have eight members) either. They still have some time to figure this all out for their athletic programs, and I wish them the best. Just hope there aren't any more winless seasons along the way to a solution.