|RIT’s Randy Muldrow goes up for a layup Friday, December 12, 2008 against Houghton College. RIT won the match up 89-73
allowing them to advance to the finals of the 23rd annual Harold J. Brodie Tournament.
Youth is a word that best describes this year’s RIT men’s basketball
team. As eight of the team’s eighteen players are first year students,
there are some uncertainties going into the early stages of the season.
But, don’t panic — Coach Bob McVean has coached his team through
seventeen straight winning seasons; included within that streak is
sixteen straight post-season appearances. The latest streak ended last
season when the team failed to reach the playoffs, despite having a
14-11 overall record.
With the amount of youth on this year’s team, it is important to
maintain a stout leadership. This year’s team is led by star forward
Mark Carson, a fourth year Packaging Science major, and guard Adam
Sweet, a third year New Media Interactive Development student,
the team’s two captains. But just because other players don’t wear the
letter “C” doesn’t mean they can’t help lead the team. Coach McVean
expects everyone to take a part in the leadership role; it is a critical part
to the overall meshing of the team.
Heading into the winter break, the team has a 2-0 conference record.
Ultimately, the team’s expectations are to qualify for the Division
III NCAA tournament. A team from the Tigers’ conference can have
an auto qualification into the NCAA tournament by winning their
conference championship tournament in which the top four teams play
for the title of Conference Champion. Of Coach McVean’s 26 years of
coaching tenure here at RIT, one of his fondest memories is of doing just
that, when in 1997 the team made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA
“We attract a very special student athlete here. What I mean by that is
there are true student athletes here at RIT,” said Coach McVean.
The players on the team devote a lot of their time to the sport of
basketball, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they don’t
devote as much time to their studies. The RIT men’s basketball team
has a 100 percent graduation rate of four-year players under Coach Bob
McVean. This is truly remarkable for any institution, maybe even more
so here at RIT.
Sweet weighed in, “This year’s team is very close both on and off the
court. The team is very devoted to getting better beyond the hours of
regular practice. Even our freshmen find the extra time to get into the
gym during their busy freshman schedules.” All the hard work is paying
off for the Tigers. Coach McVean says that the team is gelling well and
that they are getting better, day by day, practice by practice.
Coach McVean described the team’s biggest challenge this season
as “taking a team of freshmen and having them perform at a high
level together and being able to compete against teams with more
experience.” This year’s team is full of youth, but with strong displays of
leadership from veteran players and the team’s two captains,
the team looks to be in for a great season.
This year’s women’s basketball team is small in numbers; there are nine
girls on the active roster, five of which are first years. One such first
year, forward and Physician Assistant student Sharon Dennis,
has been a real bright spot for the Tigers this year. She has earned
Empire 8 Rookie of the Week honors consecutively for the past three
weeks, putting up strong performances in each game. Dennis has four
double-doubles and 10 or more rebounds in each of the six
games this season.
Not only are there new faces on the team but there are new faces
in the coaching staff as well. This year the RIT women’s basketball
program has named Amy Reed their eighth head coach since their
inaugural season in 1987. Reed is poised to become only the second
coach in the team’s history to compose a winning season,
the last and only time being the 2006-2007 season. Over the past couple
of years the program has taken a turn in the right direction; the past
two seasons they have had a combined 27-25 overall record and the
prior nineteen seasons accounted for a dismal 84 wins and 364 losses.
The team this year features three captains, senior guards Kelly
Votolato, a fourth year Industrial and Systems Engineering student,
and Rachel Bruno, a fourth year multi-disciplinary student,
along with junior guard Danielle Furman, a third year New Media
Design and Imaging student. Bruno stated, “Our team this year is young
but talented. We focus on defense as a team because we only have nine
players this year and we are small. It is important for us to hold teams
to as few points as possible. I feel as though I bring experience and
competitiveness to the team. As a captain, I feel as though I need to
bring leadership to the table for our team because we struggle with that.
The team, as a whole, is very talented.” Since this year’s team contains
mostly younger players, it is a rebuilding process. With a new head
coach and several new players, the team can look ahead and focus on
the task at hand: Winning.
So far this season, the Tigers have a 2-4 record. The young team
definitely doesn’t lack talent (with an impressive 81-49 win at Hilbert
College), but it does lack experience. “It’s just when it comes down to
close games where experience is needed; we lack it because we are so
young. [However,] we have a lot of heart when we are out on the court,”
Bruno said. The veteran members of the squad strive to be better and
make every effort to set forth a good example to the rookies by being
focused and working hard day in and day out.
The women’s Tigers basketball team is looking to get ahead in the
conference with a string of five home games starting on December 13,
which includes four conference games. The rookies will look for veteran
guidance while the veterans will be looking for a youthful emergence.
“The best and worst part of our team is the amount of us,” says Dennis,
and with a team as small as this year’s, the girls will become a closeknit
group who will ride the ups and downs of the season together.