|Eastern Connecticut State athletics photo by Frank Poulin
By Matt Noonan
Tarchee Brown doesn’t want to think about his final days at Eastern Connecticut State.
In fact, he doesn’t he want to hear his coach Bill Geitner remind him that he is a senior, and this is his final season with the program. “I tell him, let’s not mention it,” Brown said with a chuckle following his team’s exciting (and dramatic) win over Keene State last Friday.
Geitner, who also chuckled when hearing Brown’s answer, responded by saying, “I think he has done a great job of being a leader this year and pushing guys, and I think the great thing about Tarchee is it’s not about him, but the program.
“I really think he values leaving the program in a better place than when he stepped on campus (four years ago). And as I try to tell him without using the words (senior or graduation) he should soak up every moment and play his game.”
Brown has certainly enjoyed every moment of his team’s run this winter – Eastern Connecticut currently boasts the best league mark in the Little East Conference, despite a recent overtime setback to Mass-Dartmouth, which ended an impressive 11-game winning streak that stretched from the beginning of January to early February.
The winning streak wasn’t discussed too much over the past few weeks, according to Geitner. Instead, he continued to preach the following: hard work and improvement. Both are important staples of the Warriors’ program and a big reason why Eastern Connecticut continue to be in the mix every season for a LEC crown.
This season, the Warriors seem more determined than previous years to take home the LEC title and hopefully win a few rounds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, too. But similar to the team’s recent winning streak, the focus remains on hard work and improvement, while treating their next game as if it’s their final contest of the 2017-18 season.
“We are not looking ahead and we are not looking back at any games we have played previously (because) it is all about the game in front of us,” said Brown. “
“We need to be ready to go and we have to be prepared (for every game),” he added.
These Warriors have certainly been prepared – no matter the outcome, Geitner has made sure his squad is ready to combat whatever an opponent presents to them on a nightly basis. And for a program that prides itself on hard work and improvement, one may not know they also stress defense, too, which has been the key to some important runs this season that has resulted in 20 wins as of Tuesday.
Said Brown, “Our defense is what has been the key to our success this entire season (because) I think getting stops on the defensive end opens up our transition game and it becomes a lot easier (to set-up scoring chances) when we play defense.”
Added sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez, “I like the transition we do from going from defense to offense and executing … that’s my biggest thing.”
Sure, it sounds simple or cliché – you have to play defense – but playing solid defense over the next few games, as well as in the conference tournament could lead to more full court layups or jumpers, as well as some important trifectas, too.
Brown knows his time with the Warriors is slowly coming to an end, so ending his final year by earning some additional hardware would be quite special – in fact, it would be something he would look back on fondly years from now. He certainly knows winning a championship is not easy, but he is confident that this current group could pose problems for future opponents, both in their remaining regular season contests, as well as in tournament play.
“I think we are having our best season that I have been a part of here at Eastern Connecticut,” he said. “I have been blessed to play with a great group of guys – 15 guys that have all bought into what we have been trying to do since (last October) and I would just say it is a blessing.
“I only have two more guaranteed games – being a senior and graduating (this spring), I think I have to start approaching every game a little differently and do what I can to leave my mark for the people that will be coming back here next year.”
Extra, Extra from New England
Congrats to coach Chris Harvey of Salem State, who picked up his 300th career win last Saturday when the Vikings defeated Westfield State. Harvey in his is 11th season with the Vikings after spending three years as the head coach at Lasell.
Also, congrats to UMass Dartmouth senior Alicia Kutil for becoming the program’s all-time point scorer last Saturday in a 78-62 win over Eastern Connecticut.
One more congrats to coach Dave Hixon of Amherst, who won his 800th game this past weekend. Hixon’s crew earned the top spot in this year’s New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament, thanks to a victory last Saturday over Middlebury.
Speaking of the NESCAC tournament, here are my quarterfinal picks: On the men’s side, I will take Amherst over Bowdoin, Williams over Trinity, Tufts over Hamilton and Wesleyan over Middlebury. Williams is my pick to win the tournament next weekend.
As for the women’s NESCAC tournament quarterfinals: Amherst over Trinity, Bowdoin over Williams, Tufts over Conn. College and Middlebury over Wesleyan. Amherst is my pick to win the tournament.
The UMass Boston women’s basketball team made history last Saturday by becoming the first basketball program at the school to win 20 games in a single season. The Beacons accomplished the feat by defeating Plymouth State, 77-46.
Did you know both Dean College basketball teams enter the final week in second place in the New England Collegiate Conference? The Bulldogs have a chance to cap their respective campaigns as regular season champions in their first year as a provisional member of Division III.