Robert Morris women, chosen 2nd, look for more success
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — It was all very exciting.
The expanded media coverage. The increased exposure. New fans jumping aboard the bandwagon.
Yes, there was great deal of enthusiasm surrounding the Robert Morris women's basketball team's berth in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. And even though the Colonials' season ended at the hands of eventual national champion UConn, the fervor resonated.
Seven months later, does that feeling remain? Can last year's run be sustained?
To hear senior guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou during Northeast Conference media day Wednesday at Barclays Center, those questions are irrelevant.
“Last year's success is over,” Stamolamprou said. “We have to get over it. It's a new season, a new year.”
Indeed, what transpired in 2015-16 will have no bearing on this season, even if NEC coaches predicted the Colonials would finish second in the preseason poll. The coaches also named Stamolamprou to the preseason All-NEC team.
Robert Morris received three out of 10 first-place votes. Sacred Heart, the coaches' preseason pick to win the conference, garnered six first-place votes. St. Francis (Pa.) received the other first-place vote.
And new coach Charlie Buscaglia welcomes the high expectations.
“I definitely do,” said Charlie Buscaglia, who replaces the since-retired Sal Buscaglia, whose last game was the 101-49 loss to UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I love to be my own critic. I love to be my toughest critic. And our players are the same way. We love to hold ourselves accountable to a very high standard and the standards that we live by as a team, as people, are very high.”
Charlie Buscaglia served as an associate head coach under Sal last season, and the younger Buscaglia said he plans to build off the foundation built by his father, who won 706 games and reached four NCAA Tournaments.
“I was around for all that, and there is a little bit of a transition because of taking over as the head coach, but the players know that our routine were driven by a lot of things I believed in,” Charlie Buscaglia said. “A lot of stuff has stayed the same, although things have changed a little bit. Just much easier of a transition, and it's really exciting. I'm just thrilled about the team that I have.”
Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.