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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

How sweet it is for Men’s B-ball team

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Sports

Three decades have passed since the Judges last trip to the Sweet 16. Tonight, they will make their bid to head to the Elite 8 of the Div. III NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and to a very possible championship appearance. If the Judges play last weekend serves as any indication of what is in store, expect a very exciting weekend.

Last weekend, the Judges were anchored in the opening round against Lasell College with a standout performance by Florian Rexhepi ‘08, who scored a season high 19 points off the bench, and helped by guard Kwame Graves-Fulgham ’08, who dished out 14 assists. For the game, the Judges shot a sparkling 54 percent, and the Judge’s bench outscored the Lasers’ in the 80-59 rout by a 34-5 margin.

The second round proved to be a bit more of a challenge, as the Judges surrendered a 13 point half- time lead to trail the Bowdoin Polar Bears 38-37 with approximately 13 minutes left. But several clutch hoops from Rich Magee ’10 and three-pointers from Joe Coppens ’08 and Kevin Olson ’09 put the Judges in charge for good. For the game, the Judges shot 14 of 16 from the line, and 43.6 percent from the floor for the game, in the end besting Bowdoin 68-53.

Throughout the weekend, the Brandeis crowd cheered their team on, and witnessed the last home games of seniors Coppens, Rexhepi, Graves-Fulgham, and Stephen Hill ’08, who helped to reinvigorate the Men’s Basketball program at Brandeis. The Judges were a miserable 6-19 and 7-18 in their ’03 and ’04 campaigns, and these core players have matured to help the Judges to two NCAA tournament births and three winning seasons in a row.

Brandeis Coach Brian Meehan summed up the last four years of working with this core by saying, “as a group they trust each other, they play hard together. We’ve dealt with lots of obstacles the last four years as a team together. This was just another one. They are what a team is all about.”

These first and second round home victories has set up the showdown out in Plattsburgh, New York, that will pit the 22-5 Judges against the number 7 ranked hometown Plattsburgh State Cardinals, who posted a 27-2 record in the regular season.

Regarding the upcoming matchup, Meehan sounded off by saying, “the games stay the same. It’s just another weekend. It’s just competitive. It’s very satisfying for these guys to go out there and perform and show you their toughness, their skill, their togetherness, and talent.”

But this really is not just another weekend for the Judges. They will have their chance to prove to the rest of the conference that they are ready for the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the Carter administration.