When faced with adversity, many teams crumble under the pressure. However, this is not true for the Sonoma State basketball teams.
“At the start of this year, we felt like we have a lot to prove,” said Brandon Glanz, a senior on the men’s basketball team.
In the 2013-14 season, the men’s basketball team had a record of 7-19 overall. The women’s basketball team struggled as well, ending the season with an overall record of 4-22.
Although the win-loss record for both teams was not ideal, they have both put last year behind them and come in to practice every single day working to be the best that they can be in preparation for the new season.
“The mentality is very different [this year],” said Taylor Vigil, assistant coach of the women’s basketball team. “They don’t come in here looking at record of what Sonoma State’s past was. They look at it as an opportunity of a successful season, a successful year. It’s a new start.”
In the 2013-14 season, the men’s team lost 19 games, 12 of which were by a margin of 10 points or less.
“We don’t want people thinking we are not a good team because we know that we are. We’re just waiting to prove that to everyone,” Glanz said.
Pat Fuscaldo, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, stressed that although they did not have a terrific record, last season was not a bad year. They lost quite a few tough games, which were decided by one shot or one turnover, but they were always there ready to put up a fight, day in and day out. The same is to be said for the team this season.
“People know that when they play Sonoma State they are in for a war,” Fuscaldo said.
Although they know that they are in for a tough season again, the Seawolves are ready to compete.
“Our identity is that we grind,” Fuscaldo said. “We want to be mentally tough and we want to be physically capable of meeting the challenges of every game. The intangibles are something that you just can’t teach. Our kids work harder than everybody else.”
A key element in both the men’s and women’s renewed energy is the amount of chemistry they have as a team this season.
“We all have that bond together. You learn ways of picking your teammate up when they are down,” Hannah Sourek, a junior on the women’s basketball team, said. “It transfers onto the court.”
The men’s team has a similar relationship that goes beyond just being teammates. They are family.
“They are so close, it inspires me. It makes me a more complete coach,” Fuscaldo said of the men’s team. “I get chills watching them.”
Glanz gave a lot of credit to their overall cohesion to the work they put in during the summer. Many players from the team stayed in town all summer to be able to focus on their game. This off-season preparation has created a bond between all of the players on and off the court.
“A lot of us would rather sacrifice our individual play to benefit the group and I think that is very, very key to building a strong foundation to winning a lot of games,” Glanz said.
The energy and hard work remains a vital aspect for the Seawolves starts with the returners and leaders of the teams.
Some key returners for the men’s team are junior guards James Davis and David Ahern, and senior forward, Mike Harris, who averaged 8.8, 7.5 and 6.1 points per game, respectively. Ahern was a huge outside threat, shooting 41.4 percent beyond the arc.
Jabri Jenkins, who was out with a concussion last season, is also expected to step up as a huge contributor for the Seawolves.
Although they have some big returners, being successful in the conference is going to require a full team effort everyday. Luckily, effort is something the coaches know they don’t have to worry about.
“They are coachable, they show up everyday ready to work, they are receptive to feedback, they work well together, they listen to each other, they want to get better,” said Natalie Wisdom, assistant coach of the men’s basketball team. “You see that the moment you walk into the gym. As a coach, this is all you can ask for.”
For the women, juniors Tanner Adams, Hannah Sourek and Taylor Acosta are all expected to bring a lot to the table this year. They averaged 8.0, 7.8 and 7.6 points per game last season, respectively. Sourek added 5.4 rebounds per game, and Acosta pulled down another 4.8 rebounds per game.
“No matter what happens, I feel like they are going to rise up,” Vigil said.
“Rise up” is the women’s basketball team motto for the year. As Vigil and Sourek described it, rising up mean doing everything they can, on and off the court, to be successful. For them, it’s not just two simple words ,it’s a lifestyle for the team. They are rising up to the challenge of becoming a team unlike anything Sonoma State’s women’s basketball has ever been.
“I have never been so excited about a season. I have a good feeling,” Sourek said.
The men’s team shares the excitement for the new season and what they are bringing to the table.
“I feel like we are light-years ahead of where we were last year. We are really progressing as a team,” Glanz said.
The women begin their season with an exhibition game against William Jessup in the Wolves Den on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. The men have their exhibition game in Stockton against University of the Pacific on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.