By Jack Sullivan
With the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, also known as March Madness, approaching college basketball, this is the time for teams to survive and advance, or time to go home.
Sacred Heart University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams stand on two different sides of the madness.
The women finished with a 17-14 record. The men finished with a 13-19 record and had their season ended on March 1 in the quarterfinal of the NEC tournament, losing 76-73 to Mount St. Mary’s.
“March is a fun time,” said women’s coach Jessica Mannetti. “We don’t bring any records into the playoffs, we just go out there and play.”
The women’s season was a tough one because they had a target on their back due to them being ranked number one preseason.
“Every team we played, played their best games against us. We were the team to beat,” said Mannetti.
They had their struggles in the beginning of the season with non-conference play. They went 3-8 outside the conference play. Then there was a turning point in their season to get them playing like the good team like they were made out to be.
“I think we struggled in the beginning of the season in non-conference play trying to find ourselves,” said senior Hannah Kimmel. “Once we started playing in our conference, we found a way to win and stuck to it.”
Mannetti and some players believe that the turning point in the season was starting conference play.
“We really picked it up and we had a lot more confidence in each other and ourselves,” said sophomore Katherine Haines. “We had our ups and downs in the season but we stayed pretty consistent.”
Ultimately, the team went 13-5 in conference play this season.
On March 5, Sacred Heart defeated Saint Francis Brooklyn 90-69 in the NEC quarterfinal. According to sacredheartpioneers.com, Kimmel posted a double-double with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Haines also posted a double-double as she scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
After looking to make a run in the playoffs, the team fell short to Bryant on March 8 to a score of 75-68.
For the men’s basketball team, their season was ended in a close, fought out game with Mount St. Mary’s on March 1. While their season may have come to an end on a loss, the players don’t see it as a disappointing one at all.
“I was pleased with the progress of our team during the year and very pleased with the emergence of some individuals,” said men’s head coach Anthony Latina. “We were able to surpass our win total from the year before and qualify for our conference tournament for the third year in a row. I would describe our season as pleased with many areas of our season but not even close to being satisfied because we still have a lot of room for growth.”
Latina was happy to see a lot of players step up in an injury filled season. Sophomore Quincy McKnight and junior Joseph Lopez earned First and Third Team All Conference this season.
Another player that stepped up was sophomore Sean Hoehn who played valuable minutes off the bench.
“Thought the season went well from many different aspects. Of course, ending in a loss is always a bitter feeling but we will use it as motivation and the driving force for next season,” said Hoehn. “Our main focus is to get better everyday, no matter if we wake up at seven in the morning or six in the morning. We just want people to know we are working and won’t stop working on our game until we accomplish our goal.”
When there were opportunities to grow in his game and mentality of the game, Hoehn took good advantage of his role on the team.
“For me, I started to see a leadership role. I love when people rely on me to get the team where we need to be,” said Hoehn.
Although the team will not be playing this NCAA tournament, they believe the season brought them together more as a team.
“My goal is to continue to do so and have us win as many wins as possible,” said Hoehn.