The LIU Post women’s basketball team has one goal this season— win a championship.
A year after falling 80-78 to NYIT in the ECC title game and seeing their season end with a 61-50 loss to University of the Sciences in the first round of the Division II NCAA Tournament, the Pioneers aren’t just looking to get back to the championship, they won’t accept anything less than a title.
LIU Post opens the season against Pace University on Nov. 10.
“[The championship is] something we expect,” said forward Sasha Patterson, who led the team with 16.1 points per game last year. “We want to go even further in the NCAA Tournament this year and we’re trying to take what is ours. We’re trying to fight.”
That drive grew when it was announced on Oct. 3 that LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn would merge athletic programs in 2019. The two will become one Division I team next year and while members of the Pioneers team will be able to try out for the combined roster, this season's squad isn’t thinking about that.
The Pioneers want to focus on the here and now and, most importantly, what they can control. That includes winning games.
“We took some time to think about what we wanted to do and the kids came together and decided we’re going to play,” said coach Deirdre Moore. “You can’t sit there and worry about things that aren’t in your control. That’s us this year, that’s our expectation.”
LIU Post finished 22-8 last season, averaging 73.3 points per game, but the Pioneers struggled early. The team started 0-3 and Moore said she’s reminded her team of that before every practice this year.
“When we’re in a situation to win a game, we have to close it out,” Moore said. “We have to play every possession, we can’t play the score.”
The Pioneers return most of their high-scoring roster, including three of four leading scorers, but this won’t be an identical team. Last year’s squad took 604 shots from behind the arc, but this winter the group is hoping to charge the lane and improve on the defensive side of the ball.
“If we end up with the defensive rebound, then we’ve done our job,” said forward and Copiague grad Mikaiya Moore. “We want to get a stop and push on defense.”
LIU Post is confident its experience will help make the difference in big moments. The team has rallied together in recent weeks and, despite the off-court challenges, expects to contend as soon as the first whistle blows.
“We want to keep each other up when we're at low points,” said guard Shannon Doyle. “I think that's a big part. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses.”
The Pioneers know nothing is guaranteed this season, but it’s a challenge they’re willing to embrace. This team wants to fight and leave a legacy, determined to capture the championship it feels eluded them last season.
There may be drama away from the hardwood, but as far as LIU Post is concerned, that stops when the game starts.
“We know the whole situation of what's going on, but we can't let that get to our head,” Mikaiya Moore said. “It makes us even more motivated to go harder each time.”