MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University has the tendency to become a cozy place to those who choose to go to school here. Saturday, for six seniors and a surging men's basketball team, emotions will run high when the Buccaneers meet cross-town rival Nova Southeastern at 5:30 p.m. in the home finale.
"It is my last couple glory days of playing college basketball, so I'm just trying to make the best of every moment, every minute, every second and every play," said senior point guard Vladimir Raymonvil, a Miami native who's spent his entire college career at Barry. "To tell you the truth, I'm nervous right now, nervous just thinking about the game. But like I said earlier, I'm just going to make every minute count, every second count, every play count."
The Buccaneers (13-12, 6-9 Sunshine State Conference) have won four of their past five games, and are coming off a huge high in beating Rollins in overtime on the road Wednesday, 70-68. The Sharks (14-11, 6-9) lost to the Bucs earlier this year in Davie, Fla., 68-61, but this series has been a well-contested one over the last four years in every contest.
"We just got to come out tomorrow and play like we did on Wednesday so our six seniors can get the win and end on a high note," said senior guard Chad Renfro, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. "I just want to win. I really don't get nervous for games, more excited than anything. I'm just ready."
Senior guard Bryan Van Cott, an Oyster Bay, N.Y., product who's spent three years in the Buccaneer Red and Black, said earlier this year he wanted to help Barry change of the culture around the basketball circles. Now he is a part of a team that is playing its best basketball when it matters most. Saturday when he digs in at Health & Sports Center for the final time, it's thoughts of the Buccaneer brotherhood, past and present, that comes to mind.
"Just my teammates. I love all my teammates. They are the best people I've ever been around," Van Cott said. "I'll remember my teammates more than anything. I just want to have a good time, play hard. It's the last time I'll play college basketball here, so I just want to give it my all, and I expect that from everyone else."
Senior guard Justin McCoy, a Columbia, Md., product has been the team's leading scorer all year. But despite putting up big numbers throughout the season, his gratification comes from the fact his team has been winning lately.
"Now we're starting to pick up wins," McCoy said. "It feels better to win than to score.
"It's been a great experience. I love the coaches, I love the school. I'm glad I chose to come to Barry."
First-year senior swingman Aaron Martin, a transfer from Division I South Carolina State who hails from Capitol Heights, Md., has embraced his lone season in the Buccaneer red.
"It's been very special," Martin said. "I've got a lot of gratification ... with my teammates, my coaches. We all get along together. We've been through some ups and downs, but we've found a way to get over the hump."
Senior forward Filip Toric, who's played a multitude of roles in his one year at Barry, spent his past three years at two other schools. A Zagreb, Croatia, native, he and McCoy were named to a national list of the country's top 2000 players.
"It was an honor and privilege to play amongst talented players like we have on this year's team. It was an honor to work with talented coaches, a talented head coach and assistant coach, and coach Mike (Bradley) also," Toric said. "I'm happy. I don't regret it that I came here my senior year."
Now he and the Bucs get to finish things off against a big rival in Miami Shores, riding some momentum.
"We're playing with intensity," Toric said. "We finally found our identity. We're coming in with great confidence. We need this win. This is probably the biggest game of this year."
LAST TIME OUT: Barry beat Tampa on the road Saturday, 63-54 ... Five players scored in double figures for the Bucs.
SERIES RECORD: Barry is 32-14 all-time against Nova ... The Bucs beat the Sharks on the road for the first time in 10 years earlier this year in a game that wasn’t decided by one-possession in the final second to three seconds as the previous six, each time the home team defending its court.
EYES ON OPPONENT: The Sharks and Bucs share identical league records, so this game is important for SSC Tournament seeding ... Iran Hollis is scoring 12.6 ppg and averaging 6.6 reb. while shooting 56 percent from the floor ... Lukas Roesch is scoring 11.3 ppg while shooting 49.1 percent from the field ... Brian Cahill is shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range, while scoring 10.4 ppg and pulling down 4.4 boards.
SHARK SITING: Nova ranks first in the league in three-point percentage (.393) and second in free throw percentage (.746) ... By contrast Barry is eighth in triple try pct. (.336) and fourth at the line (.736).
WORKING OVER: Barry is 4-2 in overtime games this year.
CAREER NIGHTS: Seniors Chad Renfro and Vlad Raymonvil each had career-best three-point shooting nights in Wednesday’s OT win at Rollins ... Renfro canned six triples (6-for-10) and Raymonvil buried four (4-for-5) ... Combined they shot .667 percent from beyond the arc.
McCOY’S MOJO: Sr. G Justin McCoy has scored in double figures in 22 games, which leads the team ... He leads the Bucs in scoring (14.3) ... He ranks ninth all-time in assist average (2.9) at Barry.
Vlad Raymonvil - 3rd FT% (.808), 7th 3-pt% (.369)
Bryan Van Cott - 5th FT% (.793), 3-pt FG (77) - tied 16th
Justin McCoy - scoring (11.9) - 17th; assists ave (2.9) - 9th
Chad Renfro -- 3-pt FG (83) -- tied 13th; 3-pt FG% (.342) - 18th; FT % (.743) -- 18th; scoring (11.0) - 20th
Filip Toric - Def. Reb. Ave (5.5) - 8th; Def. Reb. (132) - 17th
SSC TICKETS ON SALE: Fans can purchase tickets to the Sunshine State Conference tournament at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla., Mar. 6-10 by contacting associate athletics director Jamie Carrig at 305-899-4823 or email@example.com to purchase tickets.