By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia University men’s basketball is headed to the Division II NCAA Tournament. The Rams will open with a first round match-up with St. Anselm on Saturday at Holy Family University in Northeast Philadelphia.READ MORE: WATCH: New Castle County Police, Neighbor Rescue Elderly Woman Trapped Under SUV
The fact that the Rams are in the tourney is nothing new. This will be their 35th appearance, second most all-time in Division II. Twenty-nine of those appearances have come under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame head coach Herb Magee, in his 49th season as the head man at his alma mater. However, this tourney berth is one of the most impressive for the Rams because of the adversity they have had to overcome.
“We lost a bunch of guys early (including two key starters),” Magee tells KYW Newsradio. “And then we lose Kaison (Randolph), our second leading scorer (to injury), like 10-12 games ago and we have responded. Hung in there, that’s the way I would put it.”
Listen to the entire interview with Philly U’s Herb Magee
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The Rams advanced to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title game before losing to Holy Family, 87-68, last weekend. They will bring a 23-8 record into the tournament.
“What makes us a tough team to play against is Pete,” Magee says. “Because team’s have to worry about Pete. What they have to do is double-team, and when they do we have to make them pay for that.”
Pete is senior center Peter Alexis who is winding down an outstanding career. He is just the second player in program history to top 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. This season he leads the team in scoring (19.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.1) while shooting 62% from the field. Another key piece for the Rams is senior forward T.J. Huggins, who averages 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4 assists a game.
The Rams know St. Anselm. The two teams played on New Year’s Eve during the regular season, Philadelphia University losing a tough one in overtime, 77-73. Magee thinks having that familiarity with this first-round opponent is a big key.
“I consider it a distinct advantage,” Magee says. “Because now we have all kinds of film on them, not just from their other games, but from the game we actually played. We can actually say to our guys while we’re watching tape, ‘This is what we could’ve done here, this is what we should’ve done there. This is the way we should defend them. This is the way we’re going to play our zone.’ We have all their stuff down. They don’t run set plays like we do. They are a motion, a read and react offense, so it’s more like can I stop you rather than me trying to stop your play.”
Philadelphia University and St. Anselm will tip-off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Postponing COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For City Workers Again
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattleonkyw.