So happy together…

Pankaj Chhabra
Jeff Kahntroff

If people believe that the men’s and women’s basketball teams only share the number one ranking in Division III, they would be mistaken. In addition to claiming the top spots, the squads also share time together off the court, helping them form a special bond.

Since the teams travel together for games, the men and women serve as rooting sections for each other at away games. This was most evident in January 2001, when the women broke the all-time record for consecutive wins.

“It’s neat to have them on the road because a lot of times they’re our only fans,” senior forward Meg Sullivan said of her team’s counterparts. “I remember a specific incident when we broke the record up in Pittsburgh, and everyone in the gym was rooting against us. After the game, they all came onto the court and hugged us. They’ve all been very supportive even though they haven’t been as successful at winning national titles.”

When the teams interact, they are able to blend other topics into their conversations. But, naturally, the players talk a lot about the game.

“I talk to quite a few of the girls about basketball,” senior forward Chris Jeffries said. “We talk about each other’s team, who’s doing well, who’s not, and what we expect to see in the next game.”

In fact, men’s coach Mark Edwards and women’s coach Nancy Fahey spend enough time together to help each other out.

“Sometimes they’ll swap plays and see if they can be applied to their team,” junior center Suzy Digby said. “Our coaching staffs work together a lot, but they don’t tell us how to play, and we don’t tell them how to play. When the coaches talk about the teams, it can only help.”

Socially, the teams interact at the start of the school year so that new team members get to know each other.

“We have a couple of outside-sports things to get to know each other,” junior guard Lindsy Williamson said. “We have mixers, and we try to get the freshmen to know each other on the team. We’re kind of like one big family all together.”

Although the teams are similar socially, their style of play is vastly different, making it hard to give each other pointers.

“It seems like what they run is a lot more disciplined,” Jeffries said. “In our system, within the discipline we are given, we are permitted a lot of freedom. They’ll run their plays tight and to the end, whereas when we find an opening anywhere, we’ll take it.

“Even though we’ll try to give tips to each other, we don’t overstep the boundaries of the different systems we run.”

Both teams are coming of NCAA tournament disappointments, ending great seasons prematurely. They use those upsets as motivational tools.

“We both have bitter tastes in our mouths after being knocked off and being so close last year,” Digby said. “If we both work hard and stick to our goals, I think it’s entirely possible that both teams could end the year at the top.”

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