They Have Losing Down to a Science
The New Jersey Institute of Technology -- which, in the interest of space and the environment, will be referred to as "NJIT" from here on in -- is a solid science-and-technology university with many fine qualities.
Basketball is not one of them.
At 0-20 this season, NJIT is the only winless Division I team in America.
NJIT -- which has lost 24 consecutive games and 44 of its past 47 -- dropped its season opener to Manhattan, 70-28. The game followed a familiar NJIT pattern: It began scoreless, then the opponent took a small lead, quickly climbed to a big lead and eventually built an insurmountable lead.
NJIT has lost 12 of its 20 games this season by at least 20 points and five games by at least 30 points. No contest has been closer than nine points, and the Highlanders have not led a single game at the half.
If NJIT split the squad and played each other, it's possible neither team would win.
The coach, Jim Casciano, even left the team for a month earlier this season for what he called a "combination of medical factors." The prevailing medical factor? HIS TEAM CAN'T SHOOT.
Against Manhattan, NJIT missed 40 of 48 field goal attempts. Last week in a 64-33 loss to Cornell, the Highlanders missed 32 of 40 field goal attempts. They have not shot 50 percent from the field in any game this season; in fact, in six games they have shot under 50 percent from the foul line. If an NJIT player fell out of the team bus while on the Garden State Parkway, he wouldn't hit pavement.
In NJIT's defense, while it doesn't shoot well, the team also doesn't pass or rebound well.
So, why is Couch Slouch calling out NJIT for its on-court calamities?
Because it's self-inflicted: The school decided it wanted to go big-time in athletics and stepped up to Division I before the 2006-07 season.
(At this point I must bring up my misguided alma mater, Maryland. I keep imploring the school to say goodbye to Division I; alas, this is like telling Paris Hilton to give up paparazzi. A benefactor recently donated $10 million to the university, including $8 million for athletics, most of which will go to upgrade team facilities. A new Nautilus machine here, some fresh carpeting there and -- who knows? -- if Ralph Friedgen and his football staff get a Wii for the game room, we might be 9-4 or 10-3 by 2012! )