So far, the winter athletics season at RIT has been a huge success. Men’s hockey has not lost in game in nearly two months and is receiving national recognition. Women’s hockey is ranked fifth in the nation. Two wrestlers, Mike McInally and Luke Baum are ranked in the top-five nationally in their respective weight classes and will more than likely compete in their third straight NCAA Championships. A swimmer, Caitlyn Burr has broken several RIT records and should compete at the NCAA competition in March. Track and field has several notable performers and just missed winning the Empire 8 Championship last weekend.
It’s hard to say what winter team is RIT’s best right now, but any discussion would have to involve the men’s basketball squad, which after last night’s win over Alfred, is 11-0 in the Empire 8 conference for the first time in program history. Overall, RIT is 15-4 and 11-1 in 2009. The Tigers are winning at home, on the road, close games and blowouts and have clinched an Empire 8 playoff berth.
Leading the way for RIT is senior center and co-captain Mark Carson. Carson, a strong candidate for Empire 8 Player of the Year and possibly an All-American, leads all NCAA players (Divisions I, II and III) with 14.3 rebounds per game. He is also averaging 19.4 points and 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 61.8 percent from the field. He is one rebound shy of 700 for his career and has a chance to crack 1,000 points. Carson will more than likely finish his RIT career second all-time in rebounds (he needs 24 more for second).
In addition, sharpshooters Scott Young, Adam Sweet and Shawn Roe are lighting it up from the outside and have stepped up over the last few weeks when the opposition is double and triple-teaming Carson inside. Young is among the national leaders in made 3-pointers and 3-point shooting percentage. Sweet, a co-captain, is a strong shooter, rebounder and leader, while Roe is emerging as a go-to scorer down the stretch, as witnessed by his career-high 20 points last night.
The duo of sophomore Nate Korinchak and freshman Marcus Lowe are two of the more active point guards you will see. Both players are highly aggressive and are not afraid of the spotlight. Korinchak nailed the half-court buzzer-beater that handed #9 Ithaca its only loss of the year on Jan. 12. He then made the winning free throw in the final seconds of a one-point win over Brockport five days later. Lowe made a handful of clutch free throws in a win over Utica last weekend and has hit several big baskets this season.
Head Coach Bob McVean, now in his 26th season at RIT, is closing in on his 400th win at RIT, needing just three more to reach the milestone. He has led the Tigers to five NCAA appearances, including an elite eight finish in 1997. The last time RIT made the NCAA Tournament was in 1999-00, which was ironically, the last time they started 10-0 in conference play. Hopefully, history repeats itself and Tigers are playing deep into March.
RIT plays four of its final six regular season games at home, so come on out and support the squad. Hopefully, the Tigers will host a handful of postseason games as well.
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