On Monday February 29th, Salisbury’s Men’s Basketball earned its seventh all time appearance in the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Sea Gulls will play Middlebury on Friday March 4. Recently we had a chance to chat with Salisbury’s head coach Andrew Sachs.
Pencek: This was a twenty win regular season for your program. You finished ranked 23rd in the nation. Was it concerning that getting to the NCAA Tournament was out of your control?
Sachs: At this level with as many teams as there are in Division III you have to win your conference tournament to get the Automatic Qualifier. There are 19 at large bids for 380 teams left. You want to put you team in the best situation to get to the NCAA Tournament.
Pencek: Looking at this season as a whole, how do you assess it?
Sachs: Obviously coming here and not knowing the guys, losing Wyatt (Smith) early it kind of a blessing because the kids accepted it and we moved on. A lot of guys stepped up from their role from last year. Instead of bit players they have become a major part of the program. We’ve had a lot of balance. (Gordon) Jeter has had a good year for us. We’ve had different guys lead in us scoring. Our team defense for the most part has been really good. That’s why we went 20-5 in the regular season.
Pencek: What is about coaching at Salisbury that you like?
Sachs: It’s a special place. My sister went here. Coach (Ward) Lambert gave me my first coaching job here. We had a lot of success here when I was here as an assistant. We were number two in the country. We set school records for victories. Losing in the Elite Eight still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To come back here and take over the program makes me want to get this back to that level on a consistent basis. Hopefully one day we can win a national championship. The big thing is that we have great kids. They care about the program. They care about the school and they care about each other and that is what is important to me.
Pencek: You’ve referenced the success this program had during your time as an assistant during the 1990s. Is that something you discuss with your players?
Sachs: I think they got back to that level last year to get to the NCAA Tournament. I want to make it a consistent thing. We don’t want to be 20-8 one year than 15-12 or 14-11 the next. We want it to be continuous. We want to be knocking on the door of the NCAA Tournament and winning a National Championship. That’s were we really want the program to be. That’s the way a lot of the sports are around here. That’s the standard we want to hold ourselves to. This team has set the bar very high by winning 20 games in the regular season.
Pencek: How important was this season and how important is making the NCAA Tournament to doing that?
Sachs: It is very important. We are trying to move the program forward. The league has been really good. Our league has a very good out of conference record. We had to put ourselves in the best position to get to the NCAA Tournament and to do that we had to win basketball games. We had to win home games so that is why the Mary Washington game (Thursday February 25, 2016) was a big game for us.
Pencek: Off the court, is there something that people might not know about you?
Sachs: My wife is from the Eastern Shore. She grew up in Seaford. When we got the news we were coming back, she was elated. This is just a special place. It’s a lot different then when I was here 23 years ago. The school’s changed. The buildings are all brand new. The school has grown tremendously in terms of attendance. It’s only getting better. It’s special to be part of that and to be part of the athletic program. It’s certainly a privilege.