BY Caroline Bolletino
The Sacred Heart University women’s basketball team opened their season against the University of Massachusetts on Nov. 6.
“Our team is looking to start off the season strong and maintain more consistency as we pursue our goal of a Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship,” said head coach Jessica Mannetti. “The team seems to really be coming together this season.”
Over the summer, the team traveled to Argentina for their foreign tour, which Mannetti said allowed them to get a head start on things they needed to work on. When they returned from the trip, they were picked to finish third in the NEC Preseason Poll.
“We are grateful for the respect that we have earned from the teams in our league. We even collected three first-place votes,” said Mannetti. “Yet we are not extremely focused on preseason rankings because the only rankings that mean anything to us are the ones at the end of the season.”
Last season, the team lost in the Semifinals of the Conference Tournament.
“We have set high expectations for ourselves. We want to improve every day to become the best team we can be,” said graduate student guard Erin Storck. “By trusting this process, we believe that we can end up with the trophy at the end of the year.”
The team has returned all but one player from last year and has added redshirt junior Nikki Johnson, who transferred from Western Carolina University in Jackson County, N.C.
“Since we’ve returned almost the entire team, we feel more experienced and comfortable on the floor together,” said Storck.
The team looks to bring the energy that their former teammate Tykera Carter, used to bring to the court. Carter graduated from Sacred Heart after last season.
The returners on the team look to carry on lessons taught from previous seniors, to incoming players.
“We try to really value the legacy of the players who came before us,” said Storck. “Each player who has come through the program has made an impact to shape who we are today.
The home opener is Nov. 13, against Siena College.
“Our core focus this year includes staying together, holding each other responsible, committing to communicating, and remaining resilient,” said Storck.
On Oct. 26, Sacred Heart Student Government hosted the annual SHU Hoops Madness event at the Pitt Center, which kicked off the season for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“We are thankful for the support we receive by the students and families on campus,” said Mannetti. “Our team looks forward to the energy and excitement that SHU Hoops Madness creates at the start of our seasons.”
This season will also feature two games on national television. On Feb. 9, the team will take on Mount St. Mary’s College, which will be shown on ESPN3. On Feb. 25, the team will take on Fairleigh Dickinson University on ESPN+.
“There are many positive areas that we are continuing to build on and get better at every day,” said Mannetti. “While we still need to challenge ourselves to improve on our weaknesses, we continue to work hard and bring great effort in preparation for a tough season ahead.”