By Carolyn Eckel
The Sacred Heart University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are looking to start their 2016-17 season strong.
For the women’s team, head coach Jessica Mannetti has been with the women for four seasons now. The men’s coach, Anthony Latina, has been with the men’s basketball team as the head coach for four seasons, but has been with the team for a total of eight years.
Both the women’s and men’s basketball team claim that their biggest rival game coming up will be against Fairfield University.
“Obviously Fairfield is a rivalry because we open up with them, and they are down the street, familiar with one another,” said Anthony Latina. “Conference play I would say Central Connecticut, geographically they are our rival.”
With the 2016-17 season coming up, senior guard Adaysha Williams who has been with the women’s team since her freshman year is looking forward to showing the younger girls the ropes.
“From the older players, and those who have been here, it is important to just carry over from last season. I think we did a really good job making conference, being able to adjust to what is going on,” said Williams.
As for the men’s team, they have a lot of new players on the team. They are working together to be joined unit. Latina led the team in their progress from tenth place in the NEC, to fifth, to the most recent place of second.
“We hope that the next natural progression is to be first, once we get to first or remain in second, we hope to stay there for a little bit and build a consistent win, that’s always the goal,” said Latina.
As for the women, the upcoming season is crucial for their record, after their last
season, when the Pioneers lost in the conference finals by five points.
“My goal is to get back to the championship game to really be a presence in the NEC, obviously finish in the top of our conference, carry over winning potentially another regular season championship and getting that banner for the NEC tournament,” said Mannetti.
In order to get there, the women have set short term goals which include practicing and conditioning every day and to prepare for the tournament.
“We have a great group of young women and coaching staff, but I definitely hope to see more student participation at more games, for both the men’s and women’s team,” said Williams.
With the opener being less than a week away, both teams are practicing hard and working towards their goal.
“The goal for me as a coach here at a university that is a special place is to build the program that the university and the people will be proud of. That’s always been my biggest goal,” said Latina.
Both the men and women have their opening game at the Webster Bank Arena against Fairfield University on Nov. 11. The women’s game tips off at 5 p.m. with the men’s game scheduled to start at 7 p.m.