Richard Stockton College men's basketball coach Gerry Matthews said there was nothing disappointing about the 2013-14 season.
One day after the Ospreys lost 88-81 to Morrisville State (N.Y.) in the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament, Matthews was pleased with the work his team had put in. He told his playeres to sit back and look at what they accomplished.
"They had a trip to Florida that was nice; they ended up winning the league which we hadn't done since 2009; they played three NCAA games and won two of them," Matthews said in a phone interview Saturday.
"How many teams in the country were playing as of last night? They had a lot to be proud of."
That wasn't all for the Ospreys.
Matthews was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his 28-year career. It was another accolade on Matthews' resume that has made him such an appealing coach to play for.
"I will really appreciate that more a few years from now when I look back at my college career," senior guard Rich Suhr said on Saturday. "I learned so much from him.
"He's just a terrific coach. I'm glad he gave me the chance."
Three Stockton players also earned year-end NJAC awards.
Senior guard Rameel Johnson was named the NJAC Defensive Player of the Year. Junior forward Josh Blamon was selected to the NJAC first team, senior Nnamdi Usuwa was voted to the second team and Johnson earned an honorable mention distinction.
"I feel like it was one of the better years as a whole for the team as far as team bonding and chemistry," Usuwa said on the phone Saturday. "All the kids were a great group. We weren't just a great group that was good at playing basketball, we were a great group that enjoyed being together.
"It's kind of hard to find a team that was more together like we were."
The Ospreys are graduating seven seniors. Four of those seven were starters in Friday's loss to Morrisville.
Two of those seniors are Kevin Johnson and Mike Perry, Stockton's two point guards. Matthews said replacing those two will be difficult, but will be one of his top priorities for next season.
At the forward position, Matthews said that replacing Usuwa will also be difficult. Add in guards Rameel Johnson and Suhr, and Stockton's task to repeat next year will be difficult.
Matthews said he is looking to junior guard James Williams and junior forward Anthony Woodard (Atlantic City High School) to step up for next season.
Stockton is also returning arguably its best player in Blamon. Blamon scored 28 points in the loss to Morrisville, and he led team with 17.9 points per game on the season.
"Right now he's been our overall hardest worker in terms of putting in extra time on his game and you like to see that effort rub off on the other guys," Matthews said. "It doesn't always have to be verbal leadership as people watching him work on his own.
"Hopefully he can get other guys to do the same thing, and he's made himself into a very good player."
Contact John Russo: