Basketball seniors look back on dream season

For the senior athletes of the women's basketball team, the 2010-2011 season was nothing short of a dream come true.

Alyssa Polosky, Brittany Finkle, Lesley Niebel, Khadija Campbell and Melissa Loughlin, Geneseo's own Fab Five, made the most of their final season in blue and white, helping the Knights win 26 games and the program's fourth SUNYAC title.

"As with any team, the unspoken goal was to win the conference. In our minds it was game by game … but I think absolutely the goal was to win SUNYACs because we knew we could do it," Polosky said.

All season the Knights looked and played like the best team in the conference. They swept rival SUNY Cortland, won a record 15 straight games and finished the regular season undefeated on their home court.

"I thought we were legit after we beat SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oneonta [at home]," Campbell said. "I think after those games I was like, ‘nobody is stopping us.' I knew we were going to beat everyone else after that."

For the most part, the Knights were unbeatable, winning 22 of their final 24 games and besting DeSales University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But things weren't always so fantastic.

"When I got here it was completely different," Campbell said. "I don't think everyone as a whole was on the same page. No one really had that competitive spirit."

"I think as a team my first year … everyone was pretty complacent. Like if we lost, it was just, ‘Oh, it's just another loss,'" Loughlin said. "Obviously, there were a bunch of us that wanted to win, but you couldn't overcome the general feeling of complacency."

Interestingly enough, all five seniors came to Geneseo as transfer students and quickly began to change the culture of the program. According to head coach Scott Hemer, this group of five played an extremely pivotal role in the team's recent revival.

"The program and the coaching staff are forever indebted to that group of players for what they have done here over the course of their careers," Hemer said.

"They came in at a time when the program was at a difficult place and not only bought in and worked hard but they committed to doing it the right way and it's good to be able to see them reap the rewards for that commitment. I couldn't be prouder and we owe them a lot for what they've done for this school and this program."

On the court the Knights played as a team and won as a team; it was that chemistry and unselfishness that made them so enjoyable to watch. It was clear that the women committed themselves to winning above all else.

"I think that's why we became so successful, because it was less about us and more about how we could help out the team," Niebel said. "Winning as a whole became more important than what we each contributed and it took a lot of the tension away because once you're thinking about the team, you aren't upset about getting playing time or scoring as many points."

On and off the court, the Knights are a family and as their time at Geneseo comes to an end, it will be the memories of basketball they will cherish the most.

Watching The Hangover on long road trips, helping out at basketball clinics, seeing Schrader Gymnasium decorated in NCAA gear, hanging out in the new locker room and yes, even signing autographs were just a small portion of the seniors' GSUWBB experience.

That locker room will soon be emptied of the Fab Five's belongings, but rest assured the memories will remain:

"On Saturday, when they were chanting my name, I wanted to cry," Campbell said. "That just really meant a lot and it showed my hard work paid off … you couldn't get that anywhere else."

"I didn't expect to come into college basketball and … come out with 15 other family members plus the coaches. Honestly, we're a family through and through. We would do anything for each other," Loughlin said.

"Everyone, from our coaches to the athletic department to everyone who supported us, helped us end on a really great note and wrote the last chapter of our book perfectly," Polosky said. "I could not have asked for a better ending."

Niebel put it best: "We're going to have this for the rest of our lives. We're not going to forget the people and the memories we made."