These are heady days for Sacramento State’s long-suffering men’s basketball program.
With Saturday’s thrilling 64-60 home victory against Big Sky Conference rival Portland State, the Hornets, at 16-6, won their seventh straight game and clinched their first winning season since joining Division 1 in 1991.
And not only that, but with 10-1 conference record, Sacramento State holds sole possession of first place in the Big Sky, which means if that lead holds, Sacramento would host the conference tournament March 12-14, and can dream about making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
The problem, however, is the team’s cozy but tiny home court, affectionately called the Hornets Nest. With a capacity of just 1,000, it’s easy to sell out and provides a fantastic home court advantage, but is smaller than many high school gyms and unable to hold the needed television cameras that would arrive for the Big Sky tourney. If Sacramento State wins the conference, there’s talk of moving the tournament to Reno, or Stockton, or to a converted warehouse, since the obvious choice, Sleep Train Arena, is already booked for that weekend.
But that’s all in the future, and it won’t matter if the Hornets can’t continue their winning ways.
Right now, led by fiery coach Brian Katz, in his seventh season, Sacramento State is enjoying its best season playing with the big boys. Up next on Thursday is second-place Eastern Washington in a crucial road test for the Hornets that will go a long way in determining if the magic will continue.
Photos by Steve Martarano