SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
For a very short period of time about a month ago, New Jersey Institute of Technology ruled the sports world. The men’s basketball team shocked Michigan in Ann Arbor, an upset many said was on par only with something Gardner Webb had done at Rupp Arena about 10 years ago. The Highlanders and coach Jim Engles were giant killers, albeit without a conference, the only school of over 300 who played man’s basketball who were still “independent.' This would be a nice call to action, some said, for the Newark school to finally get into a league after years of toiling alone and in another far off conference now gone the way of the buffalo (and not The University of Buffalo, also once an independent now playing in the Mid America Conference). However this has been the season of the “mid-major” upset, as witnessed by schools like Yale beating Connecticut, Lehigh winning at Arizona State, Incarnate Word stunning Nebraska and on and on. Michigan has had a few other losses and is long gone for now from the Top 25. While the Highlanders win is still a great one, it was one stop on a journey which has seen them bounce from city to city, play in their still-too small but improved arena as they struggle to figure out what’s next. Led by athletics director Lenny Kaplan, NJIT has knocked on every door with a possible fit, but they have not found a suitable fulltime dance partner not just for men’s basketball, but for all their intercollegiate sports for both men and women.