By Jeffrey Lerman
The Women’s Basketball season from 2014 into 2015 had a successful track record with one team in particular causing a problem. After getting their feet wet in January, the team had a streak of eight games won in a row up until facing their rival, Sullivan County Community College. This sparked the second loss for the college against Sullivan after losing to them once before in the beginning of February.
“The matchups are a little different. Sullivan plays a little more up tempo and aggressive type of game. The thing is it took us a while to get used to that, about how to break the press and things like that. But, particularly in the second game,” said Kevin Foley, head coach on the Women’s Basketball team.
Foley believed the team had a solid chance at winning the Region 15 Tournament with their key player. Which proved worrisome when their key player or “quarterback” didn’t play. Going into the semi-finals against Sullivan, they were in a difficult situation after their last two losses.
“The girl that we lost in the final game of the season, was our key player. So what happened going into the playoffs, she didn’t play. And we were without, shall I say, our quarterback,” Foley continued. “And even though we didn’t have our quarterback, we were down only eight in the second half. I thought if she was around, we had an outstanding chance to take care of them this time. Because we matured over the course of this season.”
Throughout the Women’s Basketball season, the major teams consisted of Nassau, Sullivan, and Suffolk. They were on the right track after having beaten Nassau twice in a row mid-February. This gave them an advantage by taking down one of the two beasts they were up against.
“Coming into the playoffs, coming down, we beat the number one team. Twice. And the team that won the regional tournament, we beat them twice. The week before we played Sullivan, the last game of the year,” Foley stated referring to Nassau.
Sullivan has been a tough competitor in having an advantage over Suffolk by having dorms. This has given the college the opportunity to bring in students from all around, such as cities like New York City. Foley noted that the Sullivan college had brought in six girls from New York City. This wasn’t a team of players formed from their own community, but rather one they had picked and chosen. Suffolk has not had that same luxury at their disposal.
“The last game of the season, we were up with two minutes and ten seconds to go. We were up two. And then that game went into overtime. So we were pretty even there. We lost one of our better players with two minutes and 13 seconds to go. And we held on until overtime,
we were shall we say up in overtime,” Foley said.
Outside of the Region 15 Tournament, there’s always been a struggle year to year in Foley’s 20 years of coaching the Women’s Basketball team. With the help of Kerry Swanson, associate head coach, they have both had to work with the students that come in annually. From girls leaving and girls coming, without having scholarships to offer, it can be hard not knowing who you’re getting.
“There will be a few girls coming back. It’s a challenge because you never know who is coming back and you never know who is coming in. So the thing is, then you start over and sometimes you go back to ground zero,” Foley stated going forward. “It’s not like at a four-year school where people come in and there’s a system, there’s players there, everything else ahead of them. The difficult challenge is getting continuity from year to year.”
With Foley and his assistant head coach Swanson stepping down this year, there’s a new dynamic coming in to be seen. Foley briefly mentioned the new coach being a gentleman coming in from “one of the local high schools who have had great success.” But, the same problems will still persist with getting that continuity for a great team.
“It serves a challenge from year to year, because even kids who are here for you sometimes transfer. Sometimes because of economic reasons they go to work. And there’s all different types of dynamics that go on,” Foley mentioned.
The Sharks may have lost the season 15-6, ending at the Region 15 Tournament Semi-Final, but that doesn’t stop Foley from seeing how significant this team is,
“Three years ago we were the number two team in the country, at this level. Across the country for having the best athletic programs. Last year we came in sixth. In terms of division 3 opportunities and division 3’s excellence, we aren’t usually in the top five in the whole country. Right around there. Which is a pretty nice acknowledgment to the school and to the kids who participate.”