During the drive back from Albany and the MAAC basketball tournament, the other sports writers and I realized a few things.

First, it’s going to be interesting how the women’s team gels next year. Second, the men’s team has a chance to be a contender in the conference next season. Third, you should never order catfish from a hotel. (Your stomach will thank you if you heed this advice.) And finally, how desperate are you for food if you order a Bluffin from a gas station?

The men’s basketball team survived to win 17 games, despite losing four of five starters down the stretch. It’s a testament to head coach Ed Cooley and the way his players responded to the adversity that the team made it to the MAAC semifinals with Fairfield’s first win the Tournament since 2003.

Next year, with the return of junior Anthony Johnson and sophomore Warren Edney along with a completely healthy junior Greg Nero, the team could be one of the top teams in the conference. Lyndon Jordon ’11 and Yorel Hawkins ’11 began to flourish when they were given more opportunity as the injuries mounted. The experience of this young team, along with the returning players makes next season outlook much brighter.

The women’s basketball team endured some up-and-down stretches this year, and next year may be more of the same. When head coach Joe Frager took over the team two years ago, he inherited a veteran-laden team. Now after this season, most of those players are gone. Seniors Megan Caskin, Baendu Lowenthal, Lauren Groom and Shireyll Moore have all been vital to the team’s success, but they played their last game on Saturday.

Now, Frager will turn to his own recruits, including MAAC All-Rookie Team freshman Desiree Pina and classmate’ Tayrn Johnson, a forward who has provided a spark off the bench for the Stags this season. Returning, he will rely on junior Stephanie ‘Inspector Gadget’ Geehan, who set the MAAC single-season record for blocks this year and the only remaining starter from this year’s team.

For those of you who don’t read women’s baskeball articles, first let me thank you for actually reading one now. I should put myself on the front page more often. And second, Frager loves the analogy of Geehan being Inspector Gadget because of her long arms. Either that, or he’s just a huge Don Adams fan. I think the jury’s still out.

The potential for great things is there and Frager seems to be bringing in some good players, but it remains to be seen how he will choose to put it all together.

Students might look at the results from both teams (losses in the MAAC semifinals) and still think ‘Fairfield sucks,’ but the reality is that hiring both Cooley and Frager a year apart is beginning to seemingly set the programs up for a solid future.

The new question becomes: Can the teams rise above just being ‘solid’ to being on the same level as Marist for the women or Siena for the men? Programs of that nature take years to build along with a few special players. With Frager and Cooley at the helm, the potential is there. But for now, like Dodgers fans, we’ll wait until next year.

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