Triumphant season captivates campus

basketball photo

Chad Pulkkinen '06 gets one by a defender.

The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team finished the season with the most wins in the last eight years, won the Northeast independent championship and earned a berth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament for the first time. The Monks closed the year with a 22-8 record and marked the ?rst 20-win season during the four-year tenure of Coach Rob Sanicola '99.

In other highlights, sophomore Elbie Murphy and senior Chad Pulkkinen earned First and Second Team All-Independent honors, respectively, and Sanicola was named the Association of NCAA Division III Independents Coach of the Year.

The Monks played arguably the toughest schedule in recent years, propelling them to a No. 2 seed in the ECAC Tournament. After a hard-fought 65-46 victory over Roger Williams University in the first round, the Royal Blue and White faced a determined Curry squad, but the Monks held off a second-half run to win 76-67. In the regional final, Saint Joseph's lost 68-62 to top-seeded Western New England College.

Saint Joseph's College, with a 41-16 record the past two seasons, also delivered an impressive 21-5 home-court record. The Monks won 11 straight games at home (dating back to last season), besting the previous streak by eight games.

Fans and alumni responded to the team's success and came out in droves. Record numbers of students stood, swayed, jumped up and down and chanted throughout the season - creating an outstanding atmosphere for college basketball and community spirit.

Pulkkinen leaves Saint Joseph's with 1,123 points, ranking him 19th on the all-time list. His 83 three-point field goals was the second-best season mark by any player to don the Royal Blue and White. Sophomore guard Elbie Murphy had one of the best all-around offensive seasons by a Monk, scoring a career-best 16.0 points, grabbing 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.6 assists per game, all good for first on the team. Murphy's steals ranked him first in NCAA Division III basketball. His 121 steals on the year broke the all-time individual season record of 111, formerly held by Allen Fields '91.

Marcus Alexander also stepped up his game in his final year averaging 11.9 points and seniors Colby Emmons and Matt Plummer and sophomores Scot Vachon and R.J. Mattison helped the Monks maintain a deep, well-rounded team. Go Monks!