Jay Frank reached an athletic milestone recently when he became the 21st player in The College of New Jersey men’s basketball history to score 1,000 points.
The senior shooting guard from Brick reached the mark with 2:56 left in the first half at New Jersey City University during a 66-60 overtime victory by sinking a free throw.
But he no longer puts offense or even his improving defense at the top of his priorities. Instead, his focus is keeping everyone involved in the equal-opportunity offense that has helped the 10-5 Lions reel off six straight victories. Frank has 1,053 career points.
“My points per game have gone down, but my defense has picked up. But mostly I’m happy we’re on a six-game win streak,” said Frank after the Lions knocked off Rutgers- Newark, 71-63, on Jan. 16. Frank scored 16 points but was more pleased that three other players also ended up in double-figure scoring.
“I’m happy with that,” he said. “The guys have followed me and I don’t feel I’m putting the scoring on my back. Pretty much everybody is chipping in.”
Although his scoring has simmered down from the 21.5 points per game that ranked him at the top of the New Jersey Athletic Conference in scoring a month ago, Frank has slipped only one spot to No. 2 among the conference scoring leaders at 16.7 ppg. His teammate and good friend Aaron Syvertsen is third in the conference in scoring, mostly from long range. Frank gets many of his points from short range shots and driving moves to the basket.
But the big joke around the Ewing Township campus before classes got into full swing on Jan. 19 this week is that the team is unbeaten in 2010, with all six victories coming after the holiday break. The surge, which started with a victory over Delaware Valley when Frank scored 20 points, includes going 3-2 in the conference.
“I wasn’t happy with the season until we won six in a row,” said Frank, a first team All- NJAC pick last season who last week was named The College of New Jersey male athlete of the week for the second time this school year. With the victory overRutgers-Newark, the team that knocked TCNJ out of the conference playoffs in the opening round last year, the Lions have equaled the win total of last year’s 10-15 record. Frank said he has not played on a TCNJ team that has won more than 12 games.
The Lions were slated to travel to Kean University on Wednesday and play host to Montclair State on Jan. 23. Both are conference games.
“This is great,” Frank said. “It will open everyone’s eyes up. We played our best game of the season in this latest game against Rutgers Newark where we were in control all the way. We were up 17 [points] at one point.”
Frank’s stat line includes 42 percent shooting from the floor, 16-for-44 shooting from three-point range and 55-for-68 shooting from the free throw line for 80 percent. He has a career foul-shooting success rate of 81 percent. Frank also has grabbed 4.9 rebounds a game and has 46 assists to go with his 47 turnovers and 33 steals.
“I was moved over [from the point to off guard] early this season so I could get an opportunity to get open more [for shots],” Frank said.
It came after the early-season struggles that included losses heading toward the holiday break to Rowan University by 84-64 and William Paterson by 78-46. Frank scored 10 points in the two games combined. The team also lost to NCAA Division I Davidson College, 90-49, where Frank scored 12 points.
“It was pretty bad, but we had two weeks after those losses and got rejuvenated with a week off and then a week of practice,” he said. “We’re really confident now. It’s not a two- or three-man show like early on. I don’t have to score, and it’s a lot easier on me.”
Frank also credits his faith, which ties in with his Christian ministry that includes a Bible study group he will resume leading for the spring semester.
“I thank God for this,” he said. “It’s my last year and I want to go out on a good note.”