Posted on Nov 23, 2004

The fall teams have put their equipment away, the students
have headed home for the Thanksgiving-Christmas break and winter's chill is in
the air…it must be time for basketball season!

Union basketball begins a new era in the Viniar Sports Complex.

If it isn't enough that both the women and men's teams have
just about all their key players back from successful 2003-04 campaigns, the absolutely
beautiful Viniar Sports Complex will replace Memorial Field House as the home
for the Dutchmen and Dutchwomen.  The
complex, complete with a wood court, will begin a new era for Union basketball
on Sunday and Monday, November 28 and 29 when the women host Williams at 3 p.m.
and the men take on Manhattanville at 7 p.m., respectively.

“The players and coaches have quickly assimilated into, and have assumed ownership of our new home,” said men's head coach Bob Montana. “For the first time in my 22 seasons associated with men's basketball at Union I feel we finally have a facility that is built with basketball as a priority. I cannot offer enough thanks to David Viniar and his family for the support they have shown men's basketball at Union College with the gift of this facility.

“We will continue to work hard to attract quality student-athletes to Union College that will represent our basketball program, alumni, and the institution in a quality manner on and off the court,” he continued. “We now have a facility that will be a positive resource in the very competitive arena of college basketball recruiting. As a former Union basketball player, Dave understands the challenges of recruiting college basketball players today, and he and his family have stepped forward in a very big way to support our efforts.”

Head women's coach Mary Ellen Burt and her Dutchwomen are equally excited about playing in the Viniar.

The Dutchwomen, who participated in their first-ever NCAA tournament last year while finishing with a record of 24-4, are the defending Liberty League champions.

“Words simply can not describe the level of energy and excitement we feel every time we take the court,” she explained. “The tingling sense of pride and the adrenaline rush that each and everyone of us feels is something that truly has to be experienced. Many of the parents have come up to me after a practice or a scrimmage and talked about feeling the same kind of sensation. Everyone associated with the women's team owes a great deal of thanks to Dave Viniar and his family because this would not have been possible without their generous gift.”

The Dutchwomen, who participated in the program's first-ever NCAA tournament after winning the Liberty League's regular-season and postseason championship, return all but two players from last year's 24-4 team. The Dutchmen, who missed the league postseason tournament by one game (eight points actually), were the top seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference's Upstate New York Tournament and finished with a record of 20-8.

The 2004-05 Dutchmen are coming off a 20-8 season and were the top-seeded team in the ECAC Upstate NY Tourney.

“Like over 400 Division III teams in the country we begin the season cautiously optimistic,” explained Montana. “All of us hope to be in post-season, however a small percentage will be. The difference between “playing in March,” and packing up your equipment is very little.

“We have graduated two players who were very instrumental in shaping the personality of last season's team. I head into this season with the hope that once again the returning players appreciate the efforts of graduated teammates and will show that respect by their commitment to the proper work ethic, and team chemistry. Each season brings a new team regardless of the number of returning players, and the satisfaction coaching provides is watching that team grow and come together through the challenges of the season.”


How deep are the Dutchwomen? Last year guard Erika Eisenhut, now in her junior season, led the team in minutes played with an average of 24.7. Senior guard Melissa Marra (21.5), senior forward Katlyn Cunningham (21.4) and senior forward Emily Scott (20.7) paced the Garnet in minutes played as 10 of the team's 14 players averaging 13 or more minutes.

Eisenhut, who was voted to the Liberty League's first team last year after earning the circuit's “Rookie of the Year Award” in 2002-03, finished second on the team in scoring (9.9), was third in rebounding (3.5), was second in assists (49), and first in steals with her single-season record of 76. She led the Dutchwomen with her 37 three-point field goals and was second in overall field goals with 90. A three-sport standout (soccer and softball), Eisenhut comes into the season third on the Dutchwomen's all-time career list with her 76 three-point field goals, is sixth in steals (145), and eighth in assists with 125.

Senior guard Eileen Lowry
Senior guard Melissa Marra

Marra enters her final season ranked 14th on the Dutchwomen's all-time scoring list with 799 points, is fourth in three-point field goals (77), fifth in steals (147), and fourth in assists (167). She was named the Liberty League's “Rookie of the Year” after earning five weekly awards during the 2001-02 campaign. Last year she was named to the All-Conference second team after leading the Dutchwomen in assists with 72 and finishing second in steals (40) and third in scoring with her 8.0 average.

Cunningham finished 2003-04 as the Dutchwomen's leading scorer (9.6) and was second in rebounding with her 4.9 average. Now in her fourth season as a starter, Cunningham enters the year 15th on the Dutchwomen's all-time scoring list with 779 points while her 444 career rebounds ranks her 12th all-time. Voted to the All-League second team as a junior, she led the Dutchwomen in field goal percentage (.594), field goals made (110), and offensive rebounds with 59.

Scott, who will miss the first portion of the schedule while completing her term abroad in Vietnam, finished with career highs in both rebounding (4.6) and scoring with her average of 5.9.

Senior forward Emily Scott

Being a starter on this team is no big deal. Playing time and games played are the key statistics for the Dutchwomen who have four other players who saw action in 20 or more contests last season.

Junior guard Nicole Cerniglia has been one of the first players off the bench the last two seasons and could be the Dutchwomen's fifth starter when they open the season against Williams. Cerniglia is not only one of the team's most accurate shooters from the field, from the free throw line, and from three-point range, she is one of the best defensive players on the squad. Senior guard Eileen Lowry, who along with Marra and Cunningham will captain this year's team, is an outstanding defensive player while junior forward Courtney Shepard has an accurate shot from the field and an even better shot from the free thrown line. She is also a strong rebounder.

Sophomore forwards Krystal Hammond and Terra Pezze are players that should make their presence known this season. Hammond, who saw playing time in 21 games last year, had her best outing of the season in the second-round NCAA loss at NYU. She battled a more experienced player tooth and nail in the season-ending 69-50 loss (the game was much closer than the final score). Pezze, meanwhile, missed most of the 2003-04 campaign due to illness and injury. At 6'0 and 5'10, respectively, the two Capital District natives (Hammond is from Clifton Park and Pezze from Guilderland) should give the Dutchwomen solid depth up front.

Senior forward Katlyn Cunningham

“We learned a lot from the loss to NYU,” said Burt, who along with assistant Jamie Seward, were voted the Liberty League's “Coaches of the Year” the last two seasons. “That game provided extra incentive for the players to work for. If we hold our ground and do the little things, we'll beat a team like NYU this time around.”


Not only did the Dutchmen enjoyed their six consecutive winning seasons under head coach Bob Montana in 2003-04, their ECAC selection last season was their fifth in Montana's eight years at the helm. Last season's 20-8 record marked the second 20-win campaign in the last three years and just the third 20-win season since 1982-83.

Guard John Cagianello, guard Chris Murphy and forward Brian Scordato, all members of the Class of 2006, are the keys to Union's success this season. They will combine with senior captains, forward Devon Bruce and guard T.J. Ramey, to give the Garnet one of the most experienced starting units in recent history.

“I feel that once again we have put together a very challenging schedule,” said Montana. “The Liberty League will provide it's usually competitive schedule, one that last year saw six teams win 16 or more games. From talking with other Liberty League coaches I feel the majority see Hamilton as the clear favorite. With the Clarkson transfers and the players Tom Murphy left, Hamilton has a number of talented kids.

Senior guard T.J. Ramey

“Our non-league schedule will give us the opportunity to compete against a number of programs coming off successful seasons with their sights set clearly on post-season years in 2004-05. The non-league schedule is highlighted by the return of basketball alum Steve Evans, who brings his Division II LeMoyne Dolphins to the Viniar Center on December 18th.”

Cagianello, the Liberty League's 2002-03 “Rookie of the Year” and a first-team All-League Player last season, comes into his junior campaign with 919 points and looks to become just the 14th member of the Dutchmen's 1,000-point club. Scordato, who finished second in both scoring (12.2) and rebounding (6.2) was a league honorable mention selection in 2003-04 and Murphy, who already has 236 assists and 287 points, has shown himself to be an outstanding floor general. Bruce, who enters his third year as a starter, was an all-league honorable mention selection last season while Ramey gives the Garnet an experienced, hard-nosed player who is equally effective as a starter or off the bench. The quartet should have the Dutchmen challenging for a berth in the Liberty League's postseason tournament…if not the regular-season championship.

“Our ability to maintain our position as the league leader in field goal percentage defense, to out rebound our opponents, and have a good assist to field goal ratio will determine our chances of being successful in the Liberty League and throughout the year,” Montana explained. “Going into the season we have more proven depth on the perimeter, especially if Jim Rahill can stay healthy for a full year. The graduation losses of Imbrie Packard and Ryan Freundlich have left us very unproven in the frontcourt, how we react to those losses will be important.”

Cagianello, who has a career field goal percentage of 48.1%, hit 69 of his 171 three-point shots last season (40.4%) and has a career average of 41.2% from outside the arc. He is also a deadly free throw shooter with a career percentage of 82.2.

Senior forward Devon Bruce

Scordato is another guy who gets his share of the headlines. At 6'5, 215, the Mt. Kisco, New York, native finished second in both scoring (12.2) and rebounding (6.1), was second in assists with 77 and tied for second in steals with 34. Scordato, who was also second in three-point field goals with 50 and was second in overall field goals with 120, led the Dutchmen in three-point field goal percentage at 41.7. His 321 rebounds is the 11th best in the last 24 years.

Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the team, at least in regard to all-conference recognition, is Murphy, the team's point guard. An outstanding overall player, the Hudson-on-Hastings, New York, native already has 236 assists (which ranks him ninth on the Dutchmen's all-time list) to go along with his 287 points and 162 steals.

Bruce, a 6'5, 220-pounder, provides the Dutchmen with the muscle and bulk they will need in order to compete for a berth in the league's championship tournament. The Altamont, New York, native has led the Dutchmen in rebounding and blocked shots each of the last two seasons. An outstanding three-point shooter, Bruce comes into his final year with a percentage of 37.8 from outside the arch. Deadly from the free throw line with his career percentage of 70.7, Bruce needs just 229 points to join the 1,000-point club while his 491 rebounds ranks him seventh all-time since 1980. Last year's scoring average of 10.9 and rebounding average of 7.3 (which led the team) earned him a spot on the league's all-conference honorable mention team.

Ramey's hustle and desire transcends what it means to wear a Garnet basketball uniform. An excellent defensive player, T.J. shoots the ball well from behind the three-point line and has been among the team leaders in assists and steals throughout his career.

The Dutchmen's experience, and depth, will come from junior 6'7 center Darcy Bonner, senior guard Jordan Schur, junior forward Alex Plaisted, junior guard Rahill, and sophomore guard Joseph Mackey.


The inaugural season in the Viniar Sports Complex has heightened the excitement and expectations for the upcoming season. After competing in the field house since the 1955-56 campaign, Union basketball will open the Viniar era by trying to improve upon a 2003-04 season that saw the two teams combine for an overall record of 44-12 and two postseason invitations, the best combined effort in the history of the sport at the College.