Letter to the Editor: Men’s basketball was wrong to enter offseason early

To the editor:

The roar of the crowd…the ball is dribbled down the court…the crowd gets louder…three, two, one, good if it goes…and then silence.

After beginning a journey that lasted over six months, the Rider men’s basketball team said it’s had enough and does not wish to continue its season in a post-season tournament.

RU kidding and RU serious are the first phrases that spring to mind.

For an athletics program that professes to say over and over, “We do Division I right,” this is a horrible message to send that Rider is quitting on the season.

Injuries were cited as an excuse and that’s what the players apparently decided to do.

So you mean to tell me that if the NCAA or NIT came calling, we would have made the same decision?  And since when are the players making that decision?

The men’s basketball program had no issue year after year of painting banners on the wall and proclaiming that we’ve been in the “postseason” three of five years (through 2014-15) and reveling in the fact that we’ve been to the CIT and CBI. Well, you can’t have it both ways.

How do you just quit on a season? Everyone has injuries.  How do you know you won’t go on a run and maybe win a few games, and bring some pride and positive publicity back to your campus. (A campus that, by the way, is struggling to keep enrollment up?)

An example of what to do is 10 feet down the hallway in the women’s basketball offices.  They lost their leading scorer and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Year 25 games into the season and all they did was reel off a 7-1 stretch that led to the MAAC Title Game and an automatic bid in the WNIT.  How did they do this?  They kept playing and didn’t quit.

The men’s basketball team should get back to playing for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back.

As an alum and employee who labored 16 years at Rider, I took great pride in watching the players of all the teams develop, mature and go for championships even in years when the odds were stacked against them.

Rider has never been a school that quits on anything and, in short, not accepting a post-season opportunity is a disturbing message to send to your fellow athletes, your loyal fan base, the school, the students, staff and alumni.

If you ask any basketball alum or any athlete for that matter, they will tell you that they went kicking and screaming as they were pulled off the court in their final competition.  You always want to be able to lace it up and compete one more time.

That’s the name of athletics, being in a competition.  You play to win the game and you can’t win the game if you decide not to play.

Win or lose, quitting on a season is definitely not doing Division I right.

—Brian David Solomon, ’91

Former assistant sports information director

 

Printed in the 3/29/17 issue. 

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