The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

OPINION: It was time to move on from the Buscaglia era, what’s next?

Samuel Anthony
RMU head coach Charlie Buscaglia high fives his teammates as the final seconds wind down in the NCAA tournament. March 27, 2019 Louisville Ky. (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media)

As a student who has been on campus for the past five years and has seen the ups and downs of the women’s basketball team, as well as covered the team for the past five years; I say with the utmost respect that it was time to move on from Head Coach Charlie Buscaglia.

This is not meant to be a bash on his character or anything of that nature. Coach Buscaglia is a nice person and this does not in any way shape an attack on him. I want it to be clear that this piece is strictly basketball-based.

So far this season, the team has been in one of the worst stretches in program history and it is time to make a change at the head coaching position.

First things first, I want to start with offense. The offensive side of the ball has way too much potential to be dead last in the Horizon League in most categories. In three-point percentage, they rank last with a shooting percentage of 24. I bring this up because this team lives and dies by the three and they are dying by it right now. The Colonials are also shooting 36 percent from the field, which is dead last in the Horizon League. This would be a hint to change the offense, but it did not make a difference.

Story continues below advertisement

The Colonials are currently averaging the least amount of points per game with an average of 56.3 points per game. It is on the head coach to make adjustments and there are none that I am seeing. It is more of just running the offense thirty feet from the hoops, settling for a mediocre shot and getting back on defense. It is a lot of one-and-done possessions and it should not be the case for this team.

Overall, the offense lacks creativity. There is very little ball movement and off-ball movement on the offensive side of the ball. This all falls on the head who needs to make adjustments. That also falls on a head coach who needs to make adjustments and use the players where they best fit. That did not happen.

Even on the defensive side, the Colonials are getting destroyed, ranking in the bottom half of the Horizon League as well. The defense has been a little better than the offense, but the Colonials are getting destroyed in the rebounding category. RMU ranks in the bottom half of the Horizon League in rebounding with nearly 35 rebounds a game. They are giving up over 40 rebounds a game. It is all about adjustments, and again, there really are not any on the defensive end either.

But this is not a first-time occurrence as their call-up to the Horizon League has just been awful. It is the same old story every year of just the offense not being able to do anything. Again, they were basically in the bottom half of the Horizon in a lot of the categories, such as points per game and points allowed per game and field goal percentage. The team never reached above eight place in any of these categories since joining the Horizon League. The Colonials have never averaged more than sixty points per game in a season since joining the Horizon League which, to put it bluntly, was embarrassing.

The system that Coach Buscaglia had in the Northeast Conference worked because there was less competition but it seems that there has been zero adjustment when it comes to the Horizon League. You need to be able to adjust to the competition and Coach Buscaglia failed to do that. It is the same old work, the ball thirty feet from the hoop and taking a contested shot. Rarely is there a shot taken in the uncontested game.

Finally, after the game against Milwaukee, Coach Buscaglia was asked about getting out-rebounded in the game and only giving up one point on the fast break. In his response, he mentions his past by saying “It is the way we got to play…it is the way I know…I mean throughout the years the NCAA tournaments and the conference championships we have won it has been defense.” This quote bothers me because that was the past in the NEC and they are now in the Horizon League.

Coach Buscaglia has had the opportunity four years into the Horizon League and as we have seen, the players that he’s bringing in and recruiting classes that he has are not there. With Coach Buscaglia now gone the Colonials need to find a new direction in terms of recruiting.

Playing in the NEC, the Colonials were one of the premier teams in the conference. They were consistently in the top half of the NEC in points per game, field goal percentage, and the system that Coach Buscaglia had worked.

But now, as we have seen here in the Horizon League, the system did not translate. Going out on the court and getting embarrassed pretty much nightly, opened some eyes within athletics and Coach Buscaglia resigned.

What worked in the NEC did not translate to the Horizon League. Coach Buscaglia has won multiple NEC Coach of the Year awards but the transition to the Horizon League has not been great. The Colonials are constantly getting outplayed every game and it comes back on the head coach. I mean when a coach brings up the past it is writing on the wall that the locker room has lost out on Coach Buscaglia.

The Horizon League is built upon having a main big, getting open shots, and running the floor. However, Coach Buscaglia and the Colonials were still stuck in the NEC and just couldn’t find the players to compete in the Horizon League. That is why it was time to move on from Coach Buscaglia and enter a new Horizon for the Horizon League.

For reference in the NEC Coach Buscaglia has a respectable overall record of 70-26. However, it’s a completely different story in the Horizon League. In the conference, he is 35-64 and he was on the worst losing streak of his career standing at twelve games before he departed the team. This is also the longest losing streak since the 2003-2004 season when they lost seventeen straight games.

I understand that Coach Buscaglia has been here since 2003 when he became an associate coach and he has a long history here, including taking over for his father in 2017 but sometimes a change is needed. It was time to move on from Coach Buscaglia and now the search begins for a new head coach for the RMU Women’s Basketball team.

I do not think they have to look far however as I believe that the Colonials should hire from within and give Scott Schneinder the reins of the team. The locker room seems to enjoy Coach Schneider a lot and he did have a little bit of experience coaching this team during the COVID season and did show some signs of success but they were very little.

Another option would be to go out and hire a coach from a Power Six school. I am not talking about stealing a head coach but an assistant coach. One name that comes to mind in terms of a coach would be Tasha Pointer, an assistant coach for Rutgers Women’s basketball. I feel like she has a ton of experience at the Division One level and she would be a great candidate as head coach for the Colonials.

Pointer was instrumental in changing the offense at Rutgers during the 2022-2023 season. Where she led Kaylene Sminkle, a freshman who was averaging less than 10 points per game in high school to average 17.9 points per game and 19.5 points per game in Big Ten play. This would be a great pickup for Robert Morris in my opinion.

Overall now with the Colonials in their fourth season in the Horizon League, it was time for a change in this program and it is time to hit the refresh button from the Buscaglia era and it is time to find a new identity for the Robert Morris University Colonials.


More to Discover