It has become official that Merrimack College’s Men’s Basketball team has made NCAA history during their first year in Division I. This may or may not have been head coach Joe Gallo’s intention, but coming off of the success they had last season, it was inevitable that the team was destined for greatness. Former NE-10 champions to winning their first Northeast Conference (NEC) regular-season championship.
With a team filled with 15 players and 3 coaches, no one on Merrimack College’s campus or in the NEC thought the men’s team would be concluding their season by potentially being the regular-season champions after being projected to take last place in the conference.
“The seniors who graduated last year, they broke the previous record from before so we knew going into this season that we would eventually make NCAA history,” said Idris Joyner.
This team comes from a winning background. Some of the players on the team, Juvaris Hayes, Idris Joyner, and Jaleel Lord in particular, are accustomed to winning. Coming from St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, NJ, these three players finished their senior year of high school with a basketball. Using their expertise and knowledge of the game, they have a 32-0 record. Together, they are helping make a name for Merrimack College.
Due to their rise of recognition in the sports world, the team hosted a nationally televised game at home last week to Sacred Heart. This is the program’s first nationally televised home game of the season and while being Division I.
Despite their winning record and making NCAA history, they are ineligible to play in postseason due to NCAA rules concerning the transition of the school from D2 to D1
“We are one of the best teams in our conference and we don’t even get the chance to have an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. It isn’t an ideal way to end my senior year but it is what it is,” said Joyner. The team’s success can be attributed to their coaches as well as the team chemistry built last season and over the summer. Even though the team is not a contender for the NCAA tournament, they still have the opportunity to participate in post-season and play in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) or College Basketball Invitational (CBI).