Cougar basketball breaks records

Josh Horton, Reporter

MU basketball teams had stellar seasons and made leaping strides, both within school records and D3 basketball.

Men’s head coach Trevor Woodruff summed up the 2011-2012 men’s basketball season best following the Cougar’s 84-65 NCAA Tournament opening round loss.

“There are some people who would say making the NCAA Tourney and losing by 20 isn’t a great year,” Woodruff said. “But we did things this year that we have never done at our school. We had something special, which makes it even more difficult to see it end. They are great, great men and I am proud to be their coach.”

Forget the score, the fact that the team made the NCAA Tournament is all proof of a significant achievement. The team had never made the NCAA Tournament. This year, they did.

It was far from an easy road for the Cougars en route to their first NCAA Tournament bid. Not many teams open conference play by losing three of four and go on to win the conference. MU did.

They had the perfect balance of senior leadership in Jeff Slanovec, Ethan Eichorst, and Chris Undersinger. In addition, junior Steve Artzerounian, sophomore Matt Greene, and first years Joe Busacca and Cael Evans also had terrific seasons for the Cougars.

It is easy to notice just how well this team plays together. There were no ego issues, everyone played their part and it ended up being a special season.

“The guys really enjoy each other. They play well together and share the basketball. They are all committed to the same goal and I think they really enjoy seeing their teammates succeed, which isn’t always the case,” Woodruff said. “So when you have that, talented guys that play together, play with enthusiasm and play for one another, you’re a threat to beat anybody you play.”

They didn’t beat New York University, but they did champion many other teams – 21 of them—a school record.

Seniors Ethan Eichorst and Jeff Slanovec both finished their careers with a bang as they flew past the 1,000-point mark.

The women also end with notable firsts. They defeated Kings College and also took a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Like the men, they too ended up losing in the opening round.

The Lady Cougars traveled to Medford, Massachusetts to take on the Tufts University Jumbos. Despite a late game run, they ended up losing the game 61-57. Most impressive is how resilient and hard working both teams were throughout their entire seasons.

Not many basketball teams have been through more challenges than the Lady Cougars: Midway through the season, former head coach Tom Griffith resigned his position, and athletic director Dave Martin became the team’s interim head coach. He brought an enormous amount of basketball knowledge, intensity and passion to the bench and the team bought in quickly.

A game-winning match against King’s College Lady Monarchs proves it. MU’s Christine Marks became the all time leading scorer in the history of women’s MU women’s basketball, Jesse Robinson finished her stellar career, and Tyann McDaniel is now the best three point shooter in school history.

The achievements brought sports fans to the games. At a school where most people go home on weekends, the Anderson Center was filled to capacity—on a Saturday—for the MAC Championship game.