We Wanna Dance With Somebody: Why the Pacers Have a Chance to Dance

By Brian Johnson
Staff Writer

“Oh! I wanna dance with somebody. I wanna feel the heat with somebody. Yeah! I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me.” That classic anthem is sung by Whitney Houston in the song “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

You may be asking yourself, what does Whitney Houston’s 80’s pop song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” have anything to do with this year’s success for the men’s basketball team? The answer is the song is an analogy of hope that the men’s basketball team may make a break for the Colonial State Athletic Conference (CSAC) playoffs and potentially “the big dance”, also known as the Division III NCAA Tournament.

This hope is not only shared by the players themselves, but also the athletic administration, the Pacer Posse (The Marywood student section that is present at all of the home games), and any other casual MU pacer fan and sports fan that roots for the underdog.

For the first time in the men’s 17 year long program, the men are legitimate contenders in conference play. As of press time the men are 11-6 with a 5-4 record with wins against powerhouse CSAC teams including Cabrini College and two wins against Baptist Bible College. With just nine games left to play, eight of which are conference games, there is a buzz going around campus, that come March, the Pacers will have their ticket punched for their first ever Division III NCAA Tourney.

“The success if this year’s team can be attributed to the growth, development, and maturation of the returning players combined with the infusion of some new talented student-athletes who have all combined together and formed a cohesive winning team that places winning ahead of their own personal individual agendas,” said head coach Eric Grundman.

The belief in the men’s potential success is all around campus; whether it be a “white out” of white t-shirts in the student section, fans painting their chests and jumping up down for an entire game, or a pat on a player’s back after a hard fought win, no one is counting the Pacers out.

The Pacers’ success has relied on some old faces, as well as some new faces. It starts with the senior leadership from Prince Blacknall, who has been named CSAC’s player of the week three separate times thanks in part by averaging 20 points per game (ppg) while leading the team in assists.

“Prince Blacknall and Josh Pena are our 2 seniors and they compete and play at a very high level both in games and in practice every day,” said Grundman.

In addition, the Pacers welcome a few transfer students such as Sidney Tharpe and John Foreman. Tharpe leads the Pacers in scoring with 20 ppg, and rebounds, with over 7 per game. Foreman averages 10 ppg and 5 rebounds.

Another fan favorite is Matt Medici, who controls the glass along with the low post scoring duties.

But no team would be complete with its role players, such as the defensive stoppers in Karl Anderson and Jerome Gosney, or energetic performers such as Josh Pena and Chadli Charlot. Also, Marywood’s freshman class of Rich Bell, Pat Lambert, and Brent Keyes has already provided good potential in the years to follow.

“The future of the program is bright.  We only have 2 seniors in Prince Blacknall and Josh Pena.  They will both be very hard to replace but we are working hard on the recruiting trail to replace our 2 seniors and further increase the talent and character base of our program.  The players who will return will hopefully be the first Marywood team that has achieved substantial success and continue to be able to build on it,” said Grundman.

While all of this may be true, success also starts with the excellent coaching staff in Coach Grundman and his assistants, Coach Moran, Johnson, and Tate, whom instill in their players the kind of work ethic it takes to be successful.

Many believe the Pacers are in uncharted territory and face an up hill battle with lurking opponents such as Gwynedd-Mercy College, Keystone College, Cabrini College, as well as Neumann College, but Whitney Houston’s 80’s pop song echoes our beliefs, “We wanna’ dance with somebody,” and dance we will!