Northampton’s Jake Ross savors final run with Springfield College basketball

  • Springfield College senior guard Jake Ross claps to the fans following his last game for the Pride, a 62-61 loss to Hobart in the NCAA Division III Tournament second round, March 7 in Springfield. PHOTO COURTESY JOE ARRUDA

  • Springfield College senior guard Jake Ross reacts following his last game for the Pride, a 62-61 loss to Hobart in the NCAA Division III Tournament second round, March 7 in Springfield. PHOTO COURTESY JOE ARRUDA

  • Springfield College senior guard Jake Ross drives to the basket against SUNY Canton in the NCAA Division III Tournament first round, March 6 in Springfield. PHOTO COURTESY JOE ARRUDA

For the Gazette
Published: 3/13/2020 3:26:27 PM
Modified: 3/13/2020 3:26:12 PM

SPRINGFIELD — In the first half of Springfield College’s NCAA Tournament second-round game against Hobart, the Statesmen called a timeout. As the players made their way to their respective benches, the PA announcer in Blake Arena announced: “Ladies and gentlemen – on that last possession, Jake Ross became the first Division III player to ever score over 2,500 points and collect 1,000 rebounds in his career.”

The bleachers across the court erupted.

Springfield had offered free admission to students who then ran with it and filled their home arena to capacity. The sea of black T-shirts jumped up, and in sync they began chanting, “MVP, MVP,” at their beloved senior guard.

He didn’t react.

It was just another addition to a list of accomplishments the Northampton native had accumulated in an illustrious four-year career with the Pride.

Other accolades on that list include the all-time scoring and rebounding records as well as the most points scored in a single game in Springfield College history. Ross finished his career with 2,634 points, 1,008 rebounds and 415 assists.

“I’d trade them all to have another game this week, but I’m proud,” Ross said earlier this week. “That stuff’s secondary, it’s more just recognition of a lot of work that I put in since I was a kid. I can safely say I’m proud of myself, but definitely not satisfied.”

The final seconds of that game turned out to be the end of the ‘Jake Ross era’ at the Birthplace of Basketball.

With just two seconds remaining in regulation, Hobart’s Dan Musino banked in a layup to put the Statesmen up one on the Pride. But hope didn’t leave Blake Arena until seconds after the buzzer – and until Ross turned his back to the crowd in order to walk off the court, fans remained standing in their spots on the bleachers.

Immediately after the buzzer though, the Recreation Management major turned to the hundreds of people who came out to support the Pride. He stood at center court and clapped for several seconds with a thankful and proud look on his face.

“(Hobart) made a great shot, and I thought the right thing to do was pay respect to all of the people that have supported us for the past four years,” Ross said. “Just having people recognize what we’ve done is awesome, and I think that’s important to recognize the people that supported us. All you want to do is play for your college, your team and your family and that’s what we did.”

Ross’ basketball journey began because his mom, Kristine, didn’t let him play hockey. His father Jack – a former hockey player – decided to coach him in hoops instead.

And he fell in love.

“It was always my favorite support growing up,” he said. “I think it’s because if you make a mistake, you can always go back on defense and try to get it back right away. As a kid I’d get pissed off and get back on ‘D’ and try to go steal the ball back. I just like how quick the game is, and how team orientated it is, it has always been an outlet for me throughout my life.”

He played at Northampton High School before attended Williston Northampton School in Easthampton.

Charlie Brock, the head basketball coach at Springfield, had known the Ross family for a while before recruiting Jake. When Ross submitted an application to become a member of the Pride, Brock “went crazy with it.”

Then, entering his 18th season at Springfield, he went to Ross’ last four or five games at Williston.

“I knew he was special from the get-go,” Brock said. “We knew he was a tremendous acquisition and we knew he would be a tremendous asset to the program. We knew right away. I don’t look at things in the long term like, ‘Is he gonna score 2,500 points or get 1,000 rebounds or however many assists he had – I don’t look at things that way. I just looked at him as somebody who was going to put this program in a position to be nationally known. That happened.”

As soon as his sophomore year, the coaching staff began creating ways to best utilize his ability.

“We certainly put things together that would maximize his talents, but we wanted to make sure that we weren’t controlled by other teams because they could do something against him only,” Brock continued. “There were plays that were run to get Jake a score, but there were many more where everybody was involved and he was able to assimilate himself into it and capitalize on it.”

When Ross was off the court – for only 4-6 minutes, depending on the game – he was almost never on the bench. Instead he stood, arms waving, yelling and encouraging his teammates.

“He just had a motor that didn’t quit. He could kick it to another level and he just wouldn’t stop working and he got better and it was awesome to watch,” Brock said. “I’m not ‘star-struck’ by any stretch, and we never treated him that way, but he is a very special player.”

That very special player was a very special teammate too, and his thoughts immediately after the game were directed at his classmates.

“For some of these guys it’s going to be the last time they ever play competitive basketball, and hopefully it’s not for me. Just to think about the last time I’ll put on that Springfield College jersey, how it ends at home like that, in front of that crowd, is just tough. It’s just tough to swallow that pill,” Ross said.

He hopes that he can take his basketball talents overseas like some of his friends and some of Brock’s other former players have done.

He hopes that final buzzer wasn’t his.




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