I feel for Jim Engles.
You have a team that you took over after an 0-29 season. You won a single game your first season. You got into a conference that wasn't really a conference according to the NCAA.
You weren't asked to move to another conference, not even the WAC who took anyone, when that conference was raided.
You are all along in the wilderness of Division 1 college basketball independenceness.
You have a good team, at least given what you can aspire to at this point in the program's history, given all that I have just mentioned.
I feel for you, I really do.
For 20 minutes, it looked like NJIT was going to score the singular impressive win in its history, a victory over Seton Hall. That is a Big East win, something that could make a program (by the way, scheduling DePaul might also help accomplish this).
Yet NJIT hurt itself through a series of mistakes, and finished with a 71-55 loss, totally obscuring the 20 minutes that looked so promising.
Let's be honest here. NJIT was outmanned in this one. They don't have the bodies to bang inside against the likes of Gene Teague, Seton Hall's big man who is among the leaders in the country in rebounding and dominated inside.
That doesn't even mention the rest of the Pirate frontcourt for which the Highlanders had no answer.
Teague took down NJIT with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Brandon Mobley added a game-high 18 points in the win.
Meanwhile, NJIT had to live from outside. The Highlanders made just 10 baskets inside the 3-point line. They shot just 34 percent inside the arc.
They took just nine free throws.
You can't win that way. You can try, but against a team that can throw giant men against you, you can't win.
And I really liked what NJIT tried to put together tonight.
Too many things went wrong though. 12 turnovers isn't going to do it. The Highlanders grabbed offensive rebounds on just 17 percent of the available opportunities. This wasn't their night.
I watched passes that went into the stands instead of leading to wide-open hoops. I watched mental mistakes that cost the Highlanders precious possessions.
I watched a team go almost eight minutes into the second half with a single field goal to their name. Two points; nothing else.
At one point, I watched a missed TOMAHAWK JAM that then turned into a foul by the Highlanders on Teague, and totally reversed the momentum of the last minute that NJIT had built.
That is also not the recipe for a win.
There were highlights, most notably Damon Lynn's performance, which doesn't even include his near-half-court 3-point shot that swished but missed beating the buzzer by fractions of a second in the opening half.
He finished with 16 points, four boards and two assists in the loss, the only Highlander in double figures.
But overall, this is a big learning experience for the NJIT basketball team which is 0-16 against the Big East in its history. Man, this one would have been nice.
For 20 minutes, it really looked like it would be.
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