[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]
March 7, 2017.
That’s the date of the Northeast Conference championship game. Entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Wagner Seahawks, Bashir Mason already has that date circled on his calendar and memorized.
Why? He and his players are starving to return to the big stage to reverse the loss they took to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 87-79, in the same matchup and scenario last year.
The Seahawks’ 2015-16 season was nothing short of remarkable. They won their second-ever Northeast Conference title, and first-ever postseason game against the No. 1 seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies, 79-75, in the National Invitational Tournament and for the seventh time in program history, earned 20 wins by going 23-11 on the year.
“Last year’s success could be a little bit of a double-edged sword,” Mason said of the 2015-16 campaign. “Obviously, it felt good to bounce back from a 10-win season with the same guys pretty much, and the guys are excited about that. But on the other end of it is the satisfaction part, so for us, we have to fight complacency. Just work every day to try to put ourselves back in the same exact position.”
As it was set up for the NEC tournament last season, home-court advantage is awarded to the highest seed once again, something the Seahawks earned a year ago. A key stat that may go overlooked which helped them throughout last season, and during Mason’s tenure, is their record at the Spiro Sports Center. They went 13-5 last year, and in Mason’s tenure as head coach, Wagner is 54-18 with Staten Island as a backdrop. They’re going to need to repeat around a similar record at home to return to the NEC championship game, along with solid road numbers in the win-loss column as well.
“It’s a really difficult schedule, and I’m actually excited about that,” Mason said of the upcoming season’s schedule. “From the very beginning, game one at UConn, it’s an opportunity for us to figure out exactly who we are. If UConn is able to punch us in the mouth and beat us really good, I’ll have my guys’ attention, I’ll have their ears and they’ll be listening to me a little bit more.”
“And also if it’s a close and we have a chance to win it and play it really close and come down to the wire, I’ll have their ear as well in terms of them having the confidence and belief that ‘hey, we could be really good if we continue to work.’”
2016-17 Wagner Seahawks Non-Conference Schedule
Friday, November 11: at Connecticut
Monday, November 14: at UMass Lowell
Saturday, November 19: vs. Fairfield
Tuesday, November 22: at American
Saturday, November 26: vs. Rider
Wednesday, November 30: at Massachusetts
Tuesday, December 6: vs. Monmouth
Saturday, December 10: at Morgan State
Saturday, December 17: at Providence
Thursday, December 22: vs. College of Staten Island
2016-17 Wagner Seahawks NEC Schedule
Thursday, December 29: vs. Central Connecticut
Saturday, December 31: at Mount St. Mary’s
Thursday, January 5: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
Saturday, January 7: vs. Sacred Heart
Thursday, January 12: at Bryant
Saturday, January 14: vs. Robert Morris
Thursday, January 19: at LIU Brooklyn
Saturday, January 21: at Sacred Heart
Thursday, January 26: vs. Saint Francis U
Saturday, January 28: vs. St. Francis Brooklyn
Thursday, February 2: at Central Connecticut
Saturday, February 4: at Fairleigh Dickinson
Thursday, February 9: at Saint Francis U
Saturday, February 11: at Robert Morris
Thursday, February 16: vs. Mount St. Mary’s
Saturday, February 18: at St. Francis Brooklyn
Thursday, February 23: vs. Bryant
Saturday, February 25: vs. LIU Brooklyn