Basketball teams off to a promising start

Basketball teams off to a promising start

Photo credit/ MU Pacer's Website

The women's basketball team has had a knack for forcing turnovers this season.

Shane Ostroski and Dave Scarnato, Sports Co-Editors

Now that basketball season is in full swing, both Women’s and Men’s basketball are ready to prove that they will bring home a CSAC title.

For instance, the Men’s basketball team is ready to contend after last season’s disappointment.

Last year, the Pacers qualified as the #5 seed for the CSAC playoffs but lost to #4 seed, Neumann College, in a tough fought game. The Pacers then earned a berth into the ECAC tournament, where they were over-matched by top seeded Lebanon Valley College, who went on to win the ECAC South Region Championship.

The Pacers started the season with what is arguably the best opponent the program has ever faced, a road match-up with Division 1 Army in West Point, New York, which the Knights won 90-45.

“While the outcome was not as we had hoped, it was a great experience visiting West Point and playing a Division 1 team,” said senior captain Brent Keyes.

After the opener, the Pacers participated in the Laurel Line Tournament hosted by Misericordia University. In the Laurel Line opener, the Pacers defeated Arcadia University, 70-60. Misericordia defeated the Pacers in the championship game in heartbreaking fashion 62-60.

This year’s schedule is pretty unique, featuring local competition.
One highlight in the Pacer’s schedule is the Cross County Challenge which will be hosted by Marywood on January 2 and 3. The tournament will also include Wilkes University, King’s College, and the University of Scranton. The Pacers will open the tournament against King’s and will take on Wilkes the following night.

“The Cross County Challenge is going to be a lot of fun, anytime you play a local team, you want to do your best.,” said Keyes.

The Pacers will be led by senior tri-captains Jimmy Lavan, Matt Lepri and Keyes, who were all starters a season ago. The only other players on the roster that have experience playing for the Pacers are senior Kirk Fallon, and sophmores Evan Biegley and Vincent Yates.

The Pacers welcome seven new players to the fold, highlighted by Alvernia University transfer Matt Tintle. Tintle, a sophomore adds depth to the guard position and can help stretch the defense with his three point shooting ability. Junior newcomer Darell Williams will add athleticism to the forward position.

The Pacers will also depend on a talented freshman class. Forward Pierre Bakinde, guards Jonathan Velazquez, Shane Kellaher and Tyrone Baker will all see significant time for the Pacers. Khamall Dunkley, Dakota Esparra and Ryan McGee round out the class.

“We feel we have the talent to compete for the CSAC Championship and earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament,” explained Keyes.

_____________________________________________________________________________

The women’s basketball team is just as anxious to hit the hardwood this year.
Finishing with a 19-8 (13-3 CSAC) record last year, the Pacers made it into the playoffs, falling to Immaculata University in the CSAC Semifinals. However, the Pacers earned a berth into the new ECAC tournament, falling to Penn State-Behrend. It was an unfortunate ending to a very promising season.

This year the Pacers are looking for redemption. What is their motivation?

How about a number four CSAC ranking for starts.

In a post game interview, Mariah Schaeffer expressed that the team took the ranking personally. “We definitely didn’t think it was fair,” Schaeffer said. “Most of the teams ahead of us lost key players, where we barely lost anyone.”

Head Coach Tara Macciocco believes that this year will be strong for the Pacers.

“We are very excited about the potential for this team with an experienced group of returning players including Senior All-Conference Honorees Mariah Schaeffer, Marielle Thorsen and Allison Bruet and one of our strongest incoming classes,” Macciocco said.

“The ultimate goal is winning a conference championship. This year’s non-conference schedule is the most difficult that we have ever played with a top ten team and 3 previous NCAA tourney qualifiers. Our early season schedule will help prepare us for our Conference play,” she continued.
With the returners, this year’s Pacer team has so much depth
on the bench that Macciocco will have confidence that whoever she puts on the court will get the job done. That even includes the new freshman class. Macciocco is more than impressed.

“Freshmen are adapting well and learning our system quickly,” Macciocco said. “They all come from terrific high school programs and have very high basketball IQs. They are going to be an exciting group to watch develop and will be relied on heavily throughout this season.”

The Pacers opened their season falling to nationally ranked Lebanon Valley College. Although the game was not in their favor, the Pacers took many positives out of the game, giving them the push they need to claim a CSAC title in 2011-12.