Basketball Teams Prepare For GNAC Playoffs

Basketball Teams Prepare For GNAC Playoffs

The 2013 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Playoff Tournament will begin on Tuesday evening, February 19th. Both the Suffolk University Men's and Women's teams will be action in quarterfinals action that night. The women enter the eight-team single elimination tournament as the number two seed as they finished the season with a 10-2 mark in conference play (19-5 overall) and will host Emerson College at the Regan Gymnasium at 7:00pm. The sixth-seeded Men's team (10-15 overall, 8-10 GNAC) head south to Providence, R.I. for a matchup with the Wildcats of Johnson & Wales University. The Rams will have plenty of offense on both sides as they send a combined five players with at least 1,000 career points scored throughout their careers.

Women's Preview

The cross-town rivals will square off for the second time this season at the Regan Gymnasium. Emerson College handed the Rams one of their two losses in GNAC play this season in the closing seconds of their January 26th meeting. Junior Jennifer Ruys (Wallingford, Conn.) finished the day with 22 points for the Rams, one of six times this season she has scored at least 20 points in a contest. Offensively the Rams will count on Ruys and senior Jacqueline Vienneau (Salem, N.H.) to pace them. The duo both reached the 1,000 career point milestones during this season. Vienneau has rewritten the Suffolk record books in her four years as she heads into her final college games in fourth place among all-time scorers in Women’s Basketball program history with 1,215 points and holds the all-time assists record with 435. She’ll look to improve on those totals she is the only player in Suffolk University history, and fourth in the GNAC, to have scored at least 1,000 career points, grab 500 rebounds and record at least 300 assists. Ruys has led the Rams on the year averaging 15.8 points per game, and has a scoring average of 17.5 points per game in conference action on the year. She closed out the regular season hitting her milestone marker for points on Saturday afternoon as the Rams fell to Emmanuel College in their finale. Both Ruys and Vienneau have been doing their parts on offense, but it’s been the Rams defense that has been the key to their success. Suffolk has held opponents to 50 points or less on 12 separate occasions this season as they lead the GNAC in opponents scoring only allowing an average of 52.1 points per game. They’ll have to contend with sophomore Kirsten Brice (Indiana, Pa.) who leads Emerson with averages of 16.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. The Lions have been strong this season shooting 32.7-percent as a team from the three-point line, the second best team average in the GNAC. Senior Shannon Norton (Middletown, N.J.) ranks third among shooters in the GNAC with a team-best 40.9 percentage from beyond the arc.

Who To Watch: A staple of Ed Leyden coached teams has been their Belichickian-like progression throughout the course of the season. Since the calendar turned 2013, the Rams have put together a record of 12-3, with two win streaks of six sandwiched in between their losses. A win on Tuesday would be the second time in program history Suffolk has eclipsed the 20-win plateau in a season for a coach who already has 307 career victories. The addition of sophomore Shelby Santini (Winchester, Mass.) has given the Rams some added athleticism and depth on their roster to compliment senior Lindsey Rogers (Gloucester, Mass.). Sophomore Iliana Quadri (Sudbury, Mass.) leads all GNAC players shooting 45-percent from beyond the arc as she has scored an average of 11.8 points per game. Their key to success may lie on the glass. Sophomore Tori Brillaud (North Andover, Mass.) has been a physical force this year for the Rams. In 25 games this season, Suffolk has outrebounded their opponents on 18 occasions, 15 of those resulted in victories for the Rams. Brillaud was the leading rebounder for the Rams on 10 occasions this season as she averaged a team-high 7.5 boards per game. The Rams will look to snap the seven year winning streak Emmanuel has held on the GNAC claiming consecutive championships. The Saints once again hold the league’s top seed finishing the year with a perfect 12-0 record and made it to the Elite Eight last season. The Rams will be looking to claim the program’s first berth into the NCAA Division-III with three more victories.

Men’s Preview

The six seeded Men’s Basketball team closed out their regular season winning two of their last three contests. Johnson & Wales University (14-11 overall, 13-5 GNAC) defeated the Rams in both of their previous meetings this season. The Rams will bring plenty of offense with them on the trip south to Providence as they have three players on their side of the ball to have recorded at least 1,000 career points. Senior Matt Pepdjonovic (Quincy, Mass.) owns a career total of 1,445 points which puts him eighth all-time in Suffolk University history and 18th in the GNAC among scorers. He holds the records for both the school and league in career rebounds with 1,227. Senior Colin Halpin (Melrose, Mass.) enters the tournament with a career total of 1,332 points which puts him 11th all-time in program history. The duo were high school teammates at Boston College High School and have been scoring in bunches over the past four seasons for the Rams. Through his four seasons, Pepdjonovic has recorded double digit totals in points and rebounds in 66 contests. Halpin has had his best year this season as his 16.6 points per game is a team-best and is the fifth best total among scorers in the GNAC. The Rams will need to score to keep pace with the young athletic Wildcats. They’ve been led by freshman Quarry Greenway (Westchester, N.Y.) who is averaging 15.3 points per game. Statistically the Wildcats don’t stand out, but they’ve been finding ways to win by spreading out the ball with six players averaging at least 8.2 points per game.

Who To Watch: While Pepdjonovic and Halpin receive the majority of the headlines, and deservingly so, senior Chris Torres (Brockton, Mass.) has also scored 1,000 career points in his career. Torres, who transferred to Suffolk after spending his first two seasons at Newbury College, has scored a total of 1,242 points over four years. He led the team last season with 18 points per game and has scored at a 14.8 average this season. He has the ability to single handedly take over games with his speed in going up and down the court. Suffolk also has a duo of freshman guards who have held their own throughout the season. Caleb Unni (Winchester, Mass.) has run the offense and shown an ability to score anywhere on the floor. He’s shooting 35.6-percent from three-point land and averaging 11.8 points per game, while Adam Chick (Northbrook, Ill.) has been solid on both ends of the floor for the Rams. The wildcard for Suffolk may be sophomore Matt Powers (Westwood, Mass.). Powers can line up at guard and stands at 6-feet 8-inches providing matchup difficulties for any team the Rams face. This season he’s averaged 8.2 points per game for the Rams and is shooting at a 44-percent clip from beyond the arc which stands at third best in the GNAC. In the Rams 10 victories this season, Powers is averaging 11.5 points in those contests and is shooting 52.2-percent (23-for-44) from three-point land.

The Rams have proven they can play with anybody in the GNAC this season. They played two tightly contested games with top-seeded Anna Maria College and defeated Albertus Magnus College (who were ranked as high as 18 this season nationally) on January 31, 92-91.

The 2012-13 season marks the tenth anniversary since the Rams last won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship. They’ll be seeking the program’s fourth NCAA appearance.

For a complete Women's Bracket, click here

For a complete Men's Bracket, click here