Buzz of the Crowd: Hornet basketball need to look forward, not behind

State Hornet Staff

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While college basketball fans look forward to the NCAA Tournament starting tomorrow, most college basketball programs are looking towards next season.

Only 28 percent of the 346 Division I schools make it to a postseason tournament, leaving the rest wondering what they did wrong. Whether their season was plagued with injuries or poor performances, schools reevaluate themselves.

Regardless of the reason, schools feel the pressure from alumni and administration to get their programs to succeed, but success should not just be measured by conference championships and tournament appearances.

Sacramento State’s women’s basketball team finished with a 19-12 record, which is in the top 30 percent of all college basketball programs in western conferences, but was not given any respect.

The Hornets finished with a better record than Utah, UC Santa Barbara, Hawaii, Long Beach State and Idaho State, but were not invited to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament like the others.

Despite the lack of respect that the Hornets received from the tournament committee’s selection process, Sac State should look back and use all the season accomplishments as stepping-stones that will lead this program in the right direction.

Head coach Jamie Craighead turned this program completely around, and her players really believe in a type of basketball that most teams will not even attempt.

The challenge ahead of them will be tough. The Hornets will not have any returning inside players with seniors Natasha Torgerson, Megan Kritscher and Kylie Kuhns all graduating. If they want to return to their conference tournament, they need find a way to win without Kuhns for the first time since 2009.

On the other side of the court, 14 wins might not sound like many, but Sac State’s men’s basketball team finished with its best record since the 2005 season.

The Hornets were off to their best start in the program’s history and were 5-3 heading into conference play, but things eventually changed from there. Sac State finished the season losing five out of their last six conference games to take themselves out of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

This season did show some glimpses of success as Sac State defeated Utah on the road, came within an eyelash of winning against Montana at home and signed a tall center to help Hornets head coach Brian Katz’s snail-paced offense.

6-foot-10-inch center Eric Stuteville will be the key to which direction Sac State’s men’s basketball program will take. This season, Stuteville is averaging 21.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale and will provide the inside presence the Hornets need.

The 2012-13 season was an improvement, but it is not where Hornet basketball needs to be. Next year will be crucial for both programs to see if Sac State can make a name for itself or be lost amongst the others.

Ryan Kuhn can be reached on Twitter @rskuhn