Men’s basketball concludes 2007-08 season as first-time ECAC champions with77–67 win over break
The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship for the first time over spring break. Coming into the tournament as second seed overall, the team defeated the Gwynedd-Mercy College Griffins 75–67. The Tartans benefited from a great team effort, but it was junior forward Ryan Einwag who shined brightest during the tournament weekend.
Einwag earned MVP honors for his tough performances in all three of the Tartans’ ball games. He had over 20 points in each game, including 28 in the championship game to go along with his five assists.
Einwag hoisted the Tartans on his shoulders whenever they needed a bucket, answering their opposition with crucial three-pointers and backbreaking mid-range jump shots.
“It wasn’t that much fun to play with him,” joked junior guard Corey O’Rourke, who had a career-high 10 assists in the championship game. “He was so hot that we didn’t get to take that many shots. It was a lot of fun to watch, though. And he definitely carried us as the games went on.”
Einwag’s gritty performance came as no surprise to most Tartan fans that had been following his games closely over the past two years. Einwag has graced numerous all-tournament teams and had already won an MVP award for his work in the West Penn Classic his sophomore year.
“I was just trying to win,” Einwag said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it. When we needed a bucket, I just tried to find the opening and get us what we needed.”
Seniors Greg Gonzalez and Geoff Kozak end their respective tenures at Carnegie Mellon as the winningest class in school history.
“Not many seniors get to smile when their season’s over,” Kozak said. “Most of the time careers end bitterly. I mean, I could have went to the NCAA tournament and maybe we would have made a run, but, frankly, Greg and I have both already been there. It feels good to end things this way.”
Kozak was referring to his sophomore year, when the Tartans won the University Athletic Association championship behind the heroics of 2006 alumni Nate Maurer and Clayton Barlow-Wilcox. Carnegie Mellon progressed to the NCAA tournament, in which they lost to Baldwin-Wallace.
“One of our goals was to end on a win,” said Gonzalez, reiterating Kozak’s sentiments. “We fulfilled that goal. At the time it didn’t sound that likely. Everyone would like to end a season on a win, but, truthfully, only a few teams get the opportunity to do that.”
The two Tartans ended their careers on the fitting note: the winningest class winning their final game. Gonzalez finished his career toward the top of the career blocks list, Kozak toward the top of career steals.
“It’s about winning. Geoff and I did that for four years here, and we had some pretty good teammates to help us out,” Gonzalez said. He smiled and added, “Well, I did it for five, I guess, but whatever.”
Carnegie Mellon hopes to continue the success that this year’s senior class has epitomized during next year’s season. The team will return three of their five starters, with plenty of young talent ready to fill in for the graduating players.