Buscaglia Named NEC Coach of the Year
Thursday, March 8, 2018
The Robert Morris University women’s basketball team saw three players earn postseason honors from the Northeast Conference (NEC) and head coach Charlie Buscaglia was named Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year as announced by the league in a release Wednesday morning.
Buscaglia is the third coach in NEC history to earn back-to-back Coach of the Year awards, joining Myndi Hill of Saint Francis U (2001-02, 2002-03) and Ed Swanson of Sacred Heart (2007-08, 2008-09).
Senior forward Megan Smith was named to the All-NEC First Team and sophomore center Nneka Ezeigbo collected Second Team accolades. Freshman guard Honoka Ikematsu earned a spot on the All-NEC Rookie Team.
In his second season as head coach, Buscaglia has Robert Morris a win shy of tying the school record of 24, despite losing a three-player senior class that included Anna Niki Stamolamprou, the 2017 NEC Player of the Year. The Colonials posted their best ever start in conference play, winning their first nine league contests, headlined by a perfect 7-0 record in January. RMU features one of the strongest defenses in the nation, ranking eighth in scoring defense at 53.9 points per game. The Colonials also lead the NEC in field goal percentage (.362) and sit in the top 30 nationally in steals per game (10.3) and turnovers forced (19.93).
Last season, Buscaglia joined his father, Sal, as the only other coach in program history to be named Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year.
Smith is the sixth player in school history to make three All-NEC Teams over their career. It’s been a season of milestones for the senior forward, who on New Year’s Eve at Sacred Heart became the 23rd member of the 1,000 point club. She also reached 200 career assists with a seven-helper afternoon on Feb. 24 at Bryant, joining Chinata Nesbit (2006-08), Artemis Spanou (2010-14), and Anna Niki Stamolamprou (2013-17) as the only players at RMU to tally 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 200 assists in a career. Smith is second on the team in scoring (9.1 PPG) and rebounding (6.1 RPG), and is one of two Colonials to start every game this season.
Ezeigbo is the fifth player at RMU to follow up an All-Rookie Team campaign with a spot on the All-NEC First or Second Team as a sophomore. The second-year center leads the Colonials in scoring (10.3 PPG) and rebounding (7.2 RPG), despite playing just 18.7 minutes per game off the bench. Ezeigbo has posted eight double-doubles this season – six coming in NEC play – and on Nov. 27 was named NEC Player of the Week. On Dec. 16, she set career highs in points (23) and rebounds (15) in a victory over Clarion.
Ikematsu is 14th player in program history to make the All-NEC Rookie Team. She is a two-time NEC Rookie of the Year honoree, collecting the plaudits on Jan. 2 and Jan. 31. The freshman guard currently leads the league in three-point percentage (.442), ranking 14th nationally, and is third on team in scoring at 9.1 points per game. On the tip-off weekend of the NEC slate, Ikematsu scored 23 and 25 points, respectively, against Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart.