Women’s basketball team set to make CSAC championship run

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Women’s basketball team set to make CSAC championship run

The women's basketball team huddles during their Jan. 30 home game against the Centenary College Cyclones.

The women's basketball team huddles during their Jan. 30 home game against the Centenary College Cyclones.

Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

The women's basketball team huddles during their Jan. 30 home game against the Centenary College Cyclones.

Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

The women's basketball team huddles during their Jan. 30 home game against the Centenary College Cyclones.

John Ferraro, Sports Editor

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A season that was once thought as a rebuilding year is now full speed ahead to a Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) playoff run for the women’s basketball team.

The Pacers not only clinched a first round bye in last Wednesday’s win against Summit University of PA, but also notched the number one seed in a victory over Gwynedd-Mercy last Saturday.

Before the season began, however, Tara Macciocco, head coach of the women’s basketball team, said that this year was going to be one of the biggest challenges of her coaching career due to the lack of experience on the team.

That looked to be the case early on as the Pacers struggled against very accomplished opponents. The team lost both games on their annual Florida trip.

After those losses, Macciocco said the team got together to try to right the ship. “I think coming in, everyone had the thought in the back of their mind that it was somewhat of a rebuilding year with a young team. We scheduled a really tough non-conference schedule, so we knew we were going to struggle that first semester,” she said.

Macciocco continued, “I think the turning point was our Florida trip. After we played those two games, we sat down and kind of aired some things out and figured out what we needed to do to get better and we got better.”

The Pacers did just that, winning their next nine games. Macciocco credits the team’s success to the players completely buying in to the system the coaching staff put in place.

“They bought into the hard work on the defensive end of the floor and have come together as a group to share the basketball while on the offensive end,” said Macciocco.

Alexa Gerchman, a senior exercise science major, echoed her coach’s comments when speaking about how the team came together in the second half of play. “Everyone on this team works her butt off every day and they want to get better; so if you come to practice wanting to get better every single day, you are going to improve. That has been our biggest strength this season. Everyone is buying in and wanting to work hard,” she said.

Gerchman has been the outspoken leader of the team all year long and plans on taking the leadership skills she has developed throughout the season into the playoffs.

“I just want to bring out the mentality that we are going to do whatever we can to win the game. I am going to take the charges, dive on the floor. I am going to do the dirty work,” said Gerchman. “I’ll do whatever I can. I want to do everything I can and I think everyone else will follow along with me.”

Gerchman has lived up to her leadership role throughout the season. She averaged 7.6 points per game to go along with 5.7 rebounds and l.8 steals per game.

Another player who has caught the attention of many around the CSAC conference is first-year player Gabrielle Giordano. Giordano took the Pacers and CSAC by storm, averaging 12.5 points per game.

Coach Macciocco spoke about how much Giordano has improved since the season began, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“I think she has done a good job of trying to get better on the defensive end. That is something that she and I talk about a lot. It is a different game at the college level and you have to play defense a little differently than you have [in the past].” said Macciocco.

Gerchman also noted how much Giordano has meant to the team this season. “I have known [Gabby] for five to six years now; we were friends before she came here and I’ve been very impressed with her coming in this season.”

Macciocco says she has been impressed with all the players on the team thus far. “I could probably go through every player, one to 14, and say they have all done something this year that has surprised me. I think the biggest surprise is the fact that for such a young team, we are in the position we are in.”

The Pacers still have to win two games before winning the CSAC crown, a title that, according to csacsports.org, they have never won before. This is a task coach Macciocco says will not come easy with Gwynedd-Mercy, the number two seed, and Cabrini College, the number three seed, still in the race.

The coach’s message is clear. “Honestly, we are trying to focus on one day at a time.” Macciocco said. “We are focusing in on getting better fundamentally and not really looking ahead to anything in the playoffs.”

The Pacers will face the lowest remaining seed left in the playoffs at home on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Macciocco said the mindset of the team heading into that game is concentration, keeping a strong work ethic, and playing for the four seniors.

“Focus on every single minute you are on the floor. Give it everything you possibly can. Walk off the floor without regrets. Work as hard as you can in practice or you possibly could in each game because you don’t know when the last game going to be, especially for the seniors,” said Macciocco.

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