Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Robert Morris 1 Win Away

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Robert Morris 1 Win Away

Article excerpt

Ever since his team defeated Bryant in the Northeast Conference semifinals Wednesday, Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia has been faced with an unavoidable question.

What awaits the retiring coach is a dream scenario, the kind that gets canonized throughout sport - win a game and forever be remembered as a winner by those who followed your career.

But as the Colonials prepare to face host Sacred Heart in the NEC championship today, with the victor headed to the NCAA tournament, Buscaglia is more concentrated on the matchup rather than what it might mean to a nearly 40-year coaching run. To him, his career and the program he has built at Robert Morris the past 13 seasons transcend a single game.

"The program isn't just me," Buscaglia said. "I haven't made a shot or gotten a rebound in 38 years. The program has been a winning program, whether or not we win this game. The program and these ladies are going out as winners, win or lose.

"I don't feel like we're going out losers if we lose the game or going out as winners if we win it. The program, this is our third consecutive championship game. Not many programs can say that. We can't let one game define winning or losing, or even define our season."

Robert Morris' trek to the title game hasn't been entirely surprising - it's the tournament's No. 3 seed - but it has been the end result of a surge that took it from a middling 14-12 team in late February to one on the verge of its season-long goal.

Up to this recent five-game win streak, Buscaglia said, his team was trying to find itself. He has encouraged his players to provide more help-side defense to on-ball defenders, and offensively, the Colonials (19-12) have made a concerted effort to share the ball more and diversify their scoring options. That shift was perhaps most evident in the semifinal victory at Bryant, when four players scored at least 10 points, led by guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou's 19. …

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