After a record setting 22 straight wins and a 23-2 overall regular season record, it is no wonder folks are watching the polls these days expecting to find the College of Staten Island men’s basketball team. The squad has been on the fringes in past weeks, but this week struck the Top 25 on the D3hoops.com poll, coming in at No. 21, its highest ranking ever in program history. The NCAA, which ranks teams regionally only, has the Dolphins at No. 5 in the Atlantic Region.
Strength of schedule has been the usual hurdle the Dolphins have dealt with in years past, but it’s been hard to deny the Dolphins when the wins keep piling up, the records shattering, and the footprint on the national scene getting larger. This year’s Dolphins are shooting 51% from the field, have not lost a single game in regulation, and boast an average margin of victory of almost 18 points.
“It’s nice to get the recognition,” said head coach Tony Petosa told the Staten Island Advance this week. “I think our kids have been looking forward to this for awhile.”
D3hoops.com has been a tough nut to crack. The team earned its first-ever ranking two years ago, as a Sweet 16 appearance merited them a No. 23 ranking in the poll’s final installment. This week’s No. 21 faring is the highest-ever, and comes after a pair of weeks in the “others receiving votes” category. The Dolphins hope it’s enough to push the school into the national spotlight, with strong consideration for an NCAA Division III Tournament bid regardless of the outcome of the CUNYAC Championship which starts later this week. The tourney carries an automatic entry into the national tournament for the winner.
Petosa would rather not leave anything to chance. “It’s not going to be this easy. We’ve had moments where we’ve played good basketball this season, and we’ve had moments where we haven’t,” he said. “We have to put our hardhats on and go out and win this thing (CUNY title).”
While the Dolphins are content about their standing in the D3hoops.com poll, the NCAA Regional rankings however, weighed by an entirely different body, does leave some in question. Four teams regionally are ranked ahead of the Dolphins, but only one (Purchase State at No. 1) has a better record at 23-1. From there, the Dolphins sit behind Richard Stockton College, Rutgers University – Newark, and William Paterson University. The Dolphins sport better records overall and against common opponents with all three schools; however their overall strength of schedule has hurt them.
Both organizations will continue their rankings through the remainder of the postseason, leading to the NCAA National Tournament in early-March.