By Ronald Hanaki
Madison Tamburini recently concluded an outstanding career as a four-year player on ESU’s Women’s Basketball team.
Tamburini grew up playing basketball. She started when she was seven years old.
Tamburini played high school basketball at Archbishop Wood and won the state championship three times in a row.
When it came time to pick a college, she wanted to go where Warriors belong: ESU.
“I chose ESU mainly because of the team. I met the girls, and they looked like they were all dedicated to basketball. I visited West Chester, but I liked ESU the best,” stated Tamburini.
As a small post player, Tamburini did not see much playing time during her freshman year because she played behind Warrior legends Jessica Martin and Allison Howard.
“They were amazing, but I kept competing in practice and getting more playing time,” said Tamburini.
Her hard work would ultimately pay off as Tamburini became a starter during her senior year.
“I put in the time, and I got what I worked for,” said Tamburini.
Much was expected in her senior season because the Warriors were picked No. 2 in the PSAC Preseason Poll.
The team got off to a good start. The Warriors won five games in a row last November.
But in January, the team parted ways with junior forward Rebecca Rutkowski. Then Allison Howard missed some games because of injury. Suddenly, the team was down two frontcourt players, but that only motivated them to work harder.
“Everybody expected us to fall apart, but this was going to be our turning point. We decided to work hard,” stated Tamburini.
“When [Allison] Howard came back, we were ready to win PSACs,” said Tamburini.
The team had an eight-game winning streak at the end of the season. The preseason poll was accurate as the Warriors finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the PSAC East.
After dispatching Millersville 82-53 in the postseason PSAC Tournament quarterfinals, ESU made it to the PSAC Final Four where they played California. The Vulcans were the defending PSAC Champions.
“We knew they were going to be a hard team. They have tall post players and quick guards, but we played hard and did well,” said Tamburini.
The Warriors led by as many as five points in the first quarter, and ESU held a slim 30-29 lead at halftime.
The game was tied 69-69 late in the fourth quarter. With 23 seconds left, California took a timeout.
On the ensuing play, Cal’s Shatara Parsons hit a jumper to give the Vulcans a two-point lead with four seconds to go.
“It was the worst feeling to see that happen. That girl [Cal’s Parsons] could not be stopped all game. It was a floater that bounced around and fell in,” said Tamburini.
Then came the controversial play.
ESU would in-bound the ball with four seconds left. The ball went to Howard, but as California’s defense swarmed around her, Howard lost her balance and fell to the ground. ESU’s season came to a stunning end.
The consensus was that Howard was tripped, but there were two questions after the play. Was Howard intentionally tripped, and should a foul have been called?
“I don’t think it was intentional,” said Tamburini. “But it should have been a foul. The way it was reffed, but who knows now? I guess we’ll never really know,” said Tamburini.
Nevertheless, Tamburini does not have any regrets.
“I wouldn’t change anything. We played well. We played the hardest we could. All of us wanted to win PSACs, but we couldn’t get there,” said Tamburini.
“Yeah, we had some downfalls, but our team is close,” said Tamburini.
Tamburini said that the biggest change from her freshman year to her senior year was that she was playing with more confidence. For that, she credits the coaching staff for helping her develop as a player.
“I love Coach [Diane] Decker. She is my favorite coach,” stated Tamburini.
“Each year I gained more confidence. As long as everybody had my back, I knew I had the green light to shoot,” said Tamburini.
“The way Coach Decker coaches is definitely tough love. She tells you what you are doing wrong, and it should boost your energy,” said Tamburini.
“She definitely believes in all of us. She knows everybody has the potential to be on the court. She knows we can play, and she wants us to try hard. She looks for intensity and 100% energy,” stated Tamburini.
“She knows the game so well and knows the game situations and how to handle them,” said Tamburini.
“She understood how Coach [Maureen] Smith taught us, but knew how to further our basketball skills,” said Tamburini. “She did great and will do great with the team that she has. She and Marla [Assistant Coach Marla Simmons] know the PSAC so well. They will lead this team to a championship, I think,” said Tamburini.
Tamburini’s favorite player is Golden State’s Steph Curry. Before each of her games, her mother would send her an article or video about Curry.
“I love the way he plays and his ball movement,” said Tamburini.
Senior Day on Feb. 18 was special because it was a moment that she was able to share together with her family.
“It didn’t hit me until after the game,” said Tamburini. “It was definitely emotional and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
“Having the team by my side and walking with the coaches and parents was special. They’re my sisters, and leaving them is hard,” said Tamburini.
Off the court, Tamburini is a public health administration major.
“I want to get my master’s in sports nutrition,” said Tamburini. “That way, I can work with college teams or professional teams on their nutrition.”
“I want to make their workout programs and meal preps and all of that,” said Tamburini.
Tamburini is also a fan of the renovations at Koehler Fieldhouse and the new athletic logo.
“It’s great. It’s definitely a step up,” said Tamburini.
“I am part of SAAC [Student-Athlete Advisory Committee], and I was involved in choosing what our logos looked like,” said Tamburini. “It shows people–don’t mess with us. Just the way Josh Looney has done everything, it definitely looks better than what it was before.
All the changes should help with recruiting. So what would Tamburini say to a potential recruit?
“They need to be ready to work hard. They have to work every day to be with the team,” said Tamburini.
“You have to let them become part of your family because you will be working with them every single day. Enjoy it while you can because it’s a great program with a great coaching staff and a great team,” said Tamburini.
“It’s a great bond. Everyone gets along. If you don’t get along here, it’s going to be difficult for us to win,” said Tamburini.
“If you don’t enjoy it here, you won’t enjoy it anywhere,” stated Tamburini.
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