A little less than a week ago the College of Staten Island men’s basketball team learned of its postseason fate after a disappointing loss to York College in the CUNYAC Championship. After learning the team would be denied an opportunity, despite its fantastic season, of travelling to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament, CSI was given another hurdle in the ECAC Metro NY/NJ Tournament instead. The Dolphins have since made it to the Final, and tonight will look to become only the second CSI program in history to win a second ECAC Championship, when it faces off against No. 6 Kean University at the Sports & Recreation Center at 5:30pm. It would be a groundbreaking win, given the fact that with the exception of their coaches, not a single Dolphin was alive the last time the team hoisted an ECAC trophy in 1986.
Tickets to the game tonight are FREE and the game is CLUE Certified (PG) for all students. If you cannot make the game, CSI has you covered via broadcast on WSIA, 88.9FM and www.wsia.fm and through CSI SportsNet at www.csidolphins.com/live.
CSI comes into the contest having set a program record with 27 wins after a 75-73 win over Stevens Institute of Technology in the semifinals. It’s the team’s first trip to the Final since 1998, when they fell to Montclair State University. CSI lost the Championship game the year before too, succumbing to Drew University in the 1997 Final. The Dolphins failed to get out of the quarterfinal round in its last three trips to the ECAC tournament. CSI’s only Championship came in 1986 against SUNY-Old Westbury, what was then head coach Tony Petosa’s senior season as a player.
“You learn right away what a tough tournament it really is,” said Petosa on Monday when he learned of his team’s entry into the field. “Sometimes it’s hard to get up for it because the NCAA Tournament is where you wanted to be, but when you realize you’re only one of a couple of dozen schools that’s actually still playing, it puts you in exclusive company against a very good program, no matter who you are playing.”
Tonight CSI will have a familiar foe. The Dolphins squared off against this same Cougars squad on January 19, taking an 83-72 win at the Sports & Recreation Center. In the heavily contested tournament, Kean upset No. 3 Mount Saint Mary College and No. 2 Rutgers University – Newark on their way to facing the top-seeded Dolphins. Before toppling Stevens Institute, CSI bounced No. 8 NJ City University, 79-74, on Wednesday night. The last and only time these two teams met in ECAC play was in 2001, when the Cougars won a lop-sided quarterfinal meeting.
This is the Dolphins’ 17th entry into the ECAC Tournament in program history, and the Championship has obviously been elusive. CSI teams have only won a total of four ECAC titles in history, two by men’s baseball and one each for men’s and women’s basketball. Petosa contends that winning this title would go a long way in validating the type of season the Dolphins have had. “If you’re chosen to play in the postseason, no matter where you go, you can count on one hand the amount of teams that finish their season with a win. Being able to do that would be a big accomplishment.”
As if winning the ECAC Championship wasn’t history-making enough, more history could be made tonight. Senior guard Bloochy Magloire needs just 12 more points to tie Michael Stewart’s all-time CSI career point-scoring record with 1,819 points, and if the Dolphins do win, it will be the 400th career win for Petosa, putting him in exclusive coaching company spanning all NCAA divisions.
After the CSI vs. Kean showdown, the women’s ECAC Metro NY/NJ will follow. The matchup pits No. 1 Kean University vs. No. 3 Brooklyn College. Approximate tip-off time there is 7:30pm.