VESTAL, NY – With all the celebrations over now, it’s time to turn the calendar over to a new year.
For the Binghamton University men’s and women’s basketball programs, their also flipping to a different schedule.
The Bearcats are preparing to begin conference play in the America East this coming weekend.
The men host UAlbany on Saturday, while the women will be in the state’s capital on Sunday.
It’s no secret that this time of year is special to all those involved, and everyone has to take it up a notch.
And the passion level goes up even higher when you open conference play against your biggest rival.
“This is what you play for. This is the grind time. This is the, and it will be for the other teams too because maybe somebody didn’t have such a great preseason or non-conference season. It’s coaches telling them, hey this is our opportunity. So, we don’t take anyone lightly. We don’t focus on the next, we focus on the task at hand,” says women’s Head Coach Bethann Shapiro Ord.
“I think, for Sam and I, we always want to win the Albany game. And we weren’t able to do that last year. So, I think for us, it probably takes on a little more significance. it’s nice to have it first. But, as Sam mentioned earlier, the games will all take on increased meaning as we go on here through the next couple months,” men’s basketball Head Coach Tommy Dempsey said.
While both head coaches agree that this time of year is more meaningful, and will do their best to lead their teams to victory, a lot of that falls on the shoulders of the players.
Being veterans on their squads, Sam Sessoms and Kai Moon know the importance of taking it game-by-game, and that’s a message they’re trying to pass on to the younger players and those who haven’t experienced America East play yet.
“Every team is bringing their best effort every night. Me and coach Dempsey talked about it as well, we feel like it’s going to be, this year, conference is going to be really close with a lot of teams. So, you can’t take no games for granted. I was basically just trying to preach that to the team and just tell them play their hardest and let’s see what the outcome will be,” said Sessoms.
“They’re a lot more familiar with who you are. You’re going to play teams twice. So, even if something may work for you the first time, it’s all about making adjustments and how you respond to that. For them, this is kind of like the beginning stages. So, as they get older, it’s even preparing them for year two, year three, year four. So, it’s even about getting better as the season progresses, and getting smarter at the same time because you have to counter a lot of what team’s are going to throw at you,” Moon says.
It’s no secret that Binghamton and Albany aren’t fans of one another.
But, the best place to settle the score is on the court.
The Bearcats and Great Danes tip off Saturday at 4:00 pm in the Events Center on the men’s side, while the BU and UA women square off Sunday at 2:00 pm in Albany.