The 2002-03 Monroe Mustangs men's basketball team finished in fifth place of the sixteen teams in the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association's annual Division I national tournament held last week in Hutchinson, Kansas. In the process, they won over legions of hoops fans and four-year college recruiters with often spectacular play.
Monroe won three of its four tournament games, beating the nation's fifth, sixth, and seventhranked teams. Their only loss was in the second game they played to San Jacinto, Texas, a team that eventually lost in the championship game. Monroe finished the season with a record of 31-3, including a 6-1 playoff record.
"We've raised the bar for future Monroe teams," said Mustang head coach Jeff Brustad. "I'm very proud of how we responded to the pressure of the big games, in particular winning two after our one loss of the tournament." Led by an impressive aerial show by all-tournament selection Ryan Williams, who averaged 21 points and 11.5 rebounds in the four games, the Mustangs played an up-tempo city-style game that was quite different from the more deliberate styles of many of the other tournament teams. Kingsley Edwards, also an all-tournament selection, added 18.25 points-per-game, to go along with his 7.75 rebounding average. Maybe the most impressive tournament award was given to Kevin Bell (15.25ppg, 6.5apg) who received the Charles Sesher Sportsmanship Award.
Upon the team's return to the Bronx, Monroe College President Stephen Jerome reflected the school's pride. "The Mustangs' success demonstrates what's best about Monroe. If given opportunity and support from the college, students who work hard can see their dreams come true." To acknowledge the team's accomplishments Monroe will have a Mustang Celebration! at the college's King Hall gymnasium on Thursday, March 27th beginning at 11:30am. Call 718-933-6700 x315 for directions or more information.
These are the scores of the four Monroe tournament games:
Tues. 3/18- Monroe College 83 South Plains College (Texas) 74
Wed. 3/19 -Monroe College 67 San Jacinto (Texas) 74
Thu. 3/20- Monroe College 103 Schoolcraft (Michigan) 97
Sat. 3/22 -Monroe College 106 Okaloosa-Walton (Florida) 93