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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Unfinished Business


The Westfield State Owl’s men’s basketball team gave us a season to remember posting a 22-5 record and securing the MASCAC title for the second year. The Owls moved on to the NCAA Division III tournament but suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Nazareth Golden Flyers. However, this team will return most of its players next season, giving plenty of promise for the Owls to pick up where they left off. Having plenty of motivation heading into the offseason, Head Coach Rich Sutter knows this team has unfinished business.

Having had a chance to speak with Coach Sutter, he mentioned the first steps going into the offseason, “Starts in the weight room with different exercises to finish out the year, giving these guys programs to follow over the summer, and begin our recruitment process.”

When asked about the importance of the recruitment process, he stated, “Recruitment is like breathing; you have to do it every day to survive.”

Establishing a winning culture is one of the essential components of recruitment, and the Owls have certainly developed that here at Westfield State University. This team certainly has the makeup of a team that will be back in the NCAA Division III tournament next year, but the work starts in the offseason.

When asked if this team was motivated moving forward, Sutter said, “We usually wait to see how quickly the team gets back into the gym after spring break. Our guys were back in the gym the first Monday after spring break. So that will give you a great indication of their mindset and how motivated they are.”

This team is exceptional and forged a bond last season, showing fantastic promise, but they can reach the next level with a bit of fine-tuning. When asked about some of the weaknesses this team needed to work on, Coach Sutter mentioned, “Thought we were inconsistent with our effort. You look at the season in totality; the loss against Nazareth was a defining moment. What happened there needs to be corrected. What happens for us to take the next step to win an NCAA tournament game is what concerns me right now.”.

That is something that Coach Sutter and his men will look to work on this offseason.

When asked about what some of the strengths of this team were, Coach Sutter said, “This is a great team to be around, fun in practice, and a great group of guys vibrationally. It made it a lot easier, and that’s a tribute to our assistant coaches finding good players. Our culture of wanting to have basketball integrity and program integrity.”

This is a tight locker room, and Coach Sutter is confident his men will be eager to do what they can to rise to the next level.

Some may wonder how Coach Sutter cultivated the fire to keep going, but he said, “It’s all about the great relationships we built here. Our stands were packed with fans, alumni, and former players this season. This makes me happy because we’ve always been family-oriented here. That validates that we’ve done a great job encouraging them to always return, encouraging them to mentor, and encouraging them to be a part of our program for life. When we say Owls for life, we mean it.”

It shows how much Westfield State University really is a family and how much the community loves its Owls.

Coach Sutter said on a final note, “The biggest part of our success is our home crowd, which is the absolute best on the east coast. It’s the Blue Wall, and nobody’s gotten through it yet.”

The University staff, coaches, alumni, students, and community make our Blue Wall strong. Coach Sutter and his men will return, and until then, GO OWLS!

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