By Isabel Marhoun
UT’s basketball teams are preparing for a postseason run in March. This past week Dori Nagy of the women’s team and Marco Downer of the men’s team were named Sunshine State Conference (SSC) player of the week.
As the season is coming to a close, the basketball teams are far from finished.
Nagy is a forward who leads the SSC with 9.2 boards per game and in the past 11 games, has hit double digits in her rebounds.
“The first thing that motivates me is that I want to win more than anything,” said Nagy. “The goals that are in front of me and my teammates are to get to the tournament and to win the conference championships.”
Right now, the women’s team is ranked seventh in the NCAA and are on a five game winning streak, sporting a 21-7 record. The Spartans are committed to making a tournament run, according to assistant coach Caitlyn Mitryk.
Feb. 27 was the last regular season game for both the women and men’s basketball teams and now they are on to the first round playoffs.
Marco Downer, freshman center, was awarded the SSC defensive player of the week. This season Downer registered the first triple-double in the SSC, making him only the 15th player in the Division II league to earn this. A triple-double is the accumulation of a double-digit number total in one of the five statistical categories in basketball..
“I hope to bring the first national championship to the university,” said Marco.
This is a daunting task at hand but with statistics like his, he is definitely on the road to success with this dream. So far in every game Downer has registered at least one block and he is ranked 5th in the NCAA with 3.05 blocks per game.
“Marco continues to get better every day. Sometime in early January things started to click for him and he has continued to grow every since,” said assistant coach Justin Pecka.
Injuries have been a recurring theme according to Pecka.
“It has been a rough year of injuries, losing our leading scorer Pat Beacon back in November and playing many games without Vincent Biffle, Devon Colley and Alberto Morena,” said Pecka.
Seeing this long list of injured players made it hard for the men’s team to overcome many challenges. Now that Devon and Alberto are back on that court and ready to do damage, it will be exciting to see how the season rounds out.
The men’s season came to a close with their last game resulting in a 72-54 win against Eckerd on Feb. 27 at UT. The team is moving into the playoffs, beginning March 6, in the SSC Quarterfinals against Nova Southeastern.
Seeing such young players get awards, Marco being a freshman and Dori being a sophomore, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these fresh players.
Isabel Marhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org