The men's basketball team, fresh off its huge overtime win against perennial Division III powerhouse Salem State on Sunday night, will attempt to improve to 3-1 at Suffolk tonight. The Rams come into the game at 1-2 and lost their last two games after opening the season with a 79-74 win over Roger Williams College.
"I'm not worried about them," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We're going to go in and play hard. They do have a funky little gym, though. You get dressed on the seventh floor and then take an elevator down to the game."
But the idiosyncrasies of the Rams' gym haven't seemed to affect the Jumbos' play at all, as Sheldon's team has a firm grip on the rivalry with wins in the last 11 meetings. In fact, the last time a Tufts team lost to Suffolk was on Feb. 4, 1989 - Sheldon's first year at the helm - when the Rams edged the host Jumbos 79-78.
Last year, Tufts fell behind early ,11-2, but surged back to take a 42-32 halftime lead that the Jumbos would not relinquish en route to a 83-68 drubbing of the Rams in Cousens Gym. The story of the game for Suffolk, however, was not the defeat but then-junior Jason Luisi's cracking of the 1000-point plateau for his career. Luisi, who has been tabbed as a preseason All American by Division III News, will be back on the floor tonight to lead Suffolk.
"Luisi - he's a scorer," Sheldon said. "He got a 1000 points in the fourth game of his junior year and he's on pace for about 18 or 1900 for his career. Last year [Suffolk's team] was the best team in school history, and they only graduated two seniors."
This year's squad is led by captains Luisi, junior Tom Carey, senior Winston Daley, and senior Flynn Pagnam. Luisi, Carey, and Daley will be in the backcourt, while Pagnam is down low at one of the forward spots. In total, the Rams return eight players to the court this year.
Nonetheless, Sheldon is confident in his team's ability to execute its game plan. "We just have to play our game, make our shots, and run the ball," he said. "And believe it or not, we may actually play some defense. It should be a good game."
Tufts' scoring has been dominated by its backcourt thus far, and tonight should be no different. Junior guard Mike McGlynn, who erupted for 26 points on Sunday night against Salem - including 6-9 shooting from three point land - comes into the contest as the Jumbos' top scorer at 17.0 points per game. His two fellow sharpshooters, junior point guard Phil Barlow and junior shooting guard Brian Shapiro are next on the scoring list at 11.7 and 11.3 ppg, respectively.
The three represent Tufts' best deep threats, as the three pointer has been a primary weapon in the squad's offensive arsenal, thus far. Against Salem State, the trio combined to shoot 10-21 on three pointers, and the Jumbos are currently shooting 33.8 percent overall (24-71) from behind the arc. Inside, juniors Kyle Van Natta and Colin Wetherill have held their own, along with freshman Craig Coupe.
The game will tipoff at 7 p.m. at Suffolk University.