Rowan is the NJAC's only unbeaten team, with a 10-0 record in the conference. But Stockton has put together a solid season, with a 13-2 overall record and an 8-2 conference mark, good for second place.
Junior guard Jermaine Clay and senior forward Chris Mitchell are both producing the way Matthews had hoped. The key is that other players have stepped up.
"People had to assume roles that they hadn't necessarily done before," Matthews said. "They've done a good job of it."
Those players include senior guard Rashawn Dowling of Trenton, sophomore swingman Ramon Gaines, and feisty senior guard Joe Farina, from Ocean City. Farina is 5-foot-9, but is not at all afraid to mix it up.
"He's started a few games, and he's been coming off the bench effectively," Matthews said. "He just kind of adds a spark to what's happening. When he's on the floor, something's usually happening."
Matthews said that Gaines has been more productive since the two had a talk.
"He was starting to think he was pretty good," Matthews said. "When he started thinking that, he got his comeuppance. Then we talked about consistency, and he has been working toward that."
Transfers Dean Ferguson and Rob Blake, out of Haddonfield, also have contributed.
Stockton moved into 19th place in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III top 20 last week. The Ospreys are third in the Atlantic Region of the NCAA Division III ratings.
"I really don't like seeing the polls out this early," Matthews said. ''Everybody starts looking at them and talking, and I just prefer to stay hidden."
ROWAN. Sometimes, winning doesn't pay. Although Rowan, 15-0 overall, has not lost a game since earning a tie for the No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll, the Profs have been dropped to No. 2, behind Wisconsin-Platteville.
The Profs remain No. 1 in the NCAA's Atlantic Region.
Rowan's 18-game winning streak - including three victories in the ECAC tourney at the end of last season - is the longest in all three divisions of NCAA men's basketball. Division I Virginia had its 16-game winning streak broken by North Carolina on Wednesday. Rowan's last loss was in overtime to Kean in last season's NJAC playoffs. The Profs lost a triple-overtime game to Jersey City State in their regular-season finale last March. Their last loss in regulation was Feb. 11, 1992, when Stockton took a 48-46 decision.
Junior guard Keith Wood is 29th in scoring in the latest NCAA Division III statistics with a 21.5 average. Junior forward Michael Burden, out of Cumberland, is fourth in field-goal accuracy, hitting 71.2 percent of his shots.
RUTGERS-CAMDEN. Senior guard Dan McClain continues to stand out in the Pioneers' winless season. The Triton graduate is 11th in Division III in assists with 6.7 per game and eighth in free-throw percentage (.917).
"He's played almost every minute of every game," Rutgers-Camden coach Greg Ackles said. "He's an iron man.
"And yet you're talking about a kid who has a 3.9 grade-point average and just finished in the 98th percentile of his law boards, and he comes to practice every day. I try not to practice him as hard. I sit him down, but if you sit him down you have to really argue. Danny's a real quiet kid, doesn't say a whole lot. But if you sit him down in practice, he says it isn't fair that they're out there busting their humps; he needs to be out there too."
TRENTON STATE. The inconsistent Lions picked up a big win Saturday at Jersey City, the first for four-year head coach Donnie Marsh in the Gothics' gym. Trenton is 8-7 overall, 6-4 and in fourth place in the NJAC. The top four teams make the league playoffs, and Marsh believes a 12-6 record should be enough to qualify.
"To do that, we're going to have to beat some teams who beat us," Marsh said. "We're also going to have to beat some good teams on the road."
Trenton did that with its 71-64 win at Jersey City in a game so intense that afterward Marsh said, "I feel like I suited up."
Willingboro's Andre Self paced the win with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.