Heading off any speculation of what the off season may bring for the James Madison men’s basketball program, Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement today announcing his support for head coach Louis Rowe;
As we sit in the heart of March Madness and with our spring sports fully in action, I wanted to be proactive to address the now-complete men’s basketball season.
Our Athletics program at JMU has enjoyed a rich history, rooted in success across a broad spectrum of sports. That philosophy dates back to the early days of our university with our women’s sports programs followed by men’s programs that experienced success right out of the gate.
Perhaps one of the most transformational accomplishments occurred with the moment we celebrated in November with the Hall of Fame recognition for our 1981-82 men’s basketball team. Many consider the achievements of this team to be the first of many “on the map” moments in the history of JMU Athletics. It changed the game of what JMU could achieve.
Men’s basketball has been critical to the rise of JMU Nation, and it remains critical as a program that must be successful in order to grow the success of JMU Athletics as a whole.
The 2018-19 season had its share of ups and downs. There were moments to celebrate – starting with a buzzer beater at ECU and top-100 wins against Radford, Charleston and Hofstra – and other performances that didn’t go our way.
When things heated up in February, our Dukes started the month by winning four of six games. They were in position to finish as high as fourth before a few injuries contributed to a tough final home stand.
They rebounded to compete admirably in the CAA Championship, posting a first-round victory over a physical Towson team before taking No. 1 Hofstra to the wire. Hofstra Head Coach Joe Mihalich had a noteworthy quote in the postgame press conference, saying, “We win the regular season, we get the No. 1 seed, and this was our reward, to face a team as good as James Madison.”
Our student-athletes exhibited tremendous heart and determination all season to fight through adversity, and it was on display to an even greater degree down the stretch and in the postseason.
The core of this team Louis Rowe constructed will be juniors next year. Given that senior Stuckey Mosley was not 100 percent, the team that competed well in Charleston is almost fully back next year. They have experienced the ups and downs and they’re hungry to turn things around and return JMU to prominence.
If you consider that Coach Rowe didn’t have much opportunity to impact his roster in his first season, we are essentially heading into year three in terms of the experience level of his roster. Looking at men’s basketball nationwide, you’ll find evidence that experience wins (outside of the one-and-dones of the elite programs). In fact, our title in 2013 occurred with the most fifth-year seniors in the nation. We have witnessed the growth of our young men from freshmen to sophomores and expect further exponential development as they train this summer.
In addition to these rising juniors, there is a talented core around them. Deshon Parker proved that a freshman can immediately step into a key role. Expect that to play out again with a dynamic group of incoming freshmen. I’m confident that Michael Christmas, Mike Fowler, Quinn Richey, Julien Wooden and any additional spring signees will prove to be one of the best incoming classes in program history. In the last two weeks, Christmas and Wooden were each the leading scorers as their high schools captured their first-ever Virginia state championships, while Fowler also led his school to a North Carolina state title.https://jmusports.com/news/2019/3/13/administration-bourne-dialogue-mens-basketball.aspx
Few coaches pour their heart and soul into a program like Louis Rowe. He has the support of our student-athletes, our incoming recruits and our letterwinners. It is also worth mentioning the significant progress that our program has achieved in the classroom, which is a testament to the young men Coach Rowe has attracted to our program. We look forward to seeing what this team has in store next year.
The construction of the Union Bank & Trust Center offers further hope that the future is bright for this program. The CAA Championship going to Washington, D.C. next year also presents an opportunity for our team to improve and to showcase our program in the heart of our fans.
In the meantime, please join us in supporting our women’s basketball program in postseason play and following our spring programs, which have each been competing at a high level.