A full-court press of exciting college basketball in Washington is underway locally with the opening of the Saint Martin’s University (SMU) women’s and men’s basketball 2023-2024 season. The community is invited to TwinStar Court in Marcus Pavilion on the Lacey campus to see high-caliber play by the student-athletes, skilled coaching and new features for the fans.
“Buoyed by the excitement surrounding first-year women’s head coach Natalie Marlowe and two-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Champion men’s coach Aaron Landon, Saint Martin’s University plans to capitalize on its burgeoning basketball tradition by celebrating the notion that the Saints’ basketball season is for everyone,” says Director of Athletics Steve O’Brien.
Saints Athletics men’s basketball team received their highest rankings in the University’s history this season. The week of November 28, Saints Athletics announced the team ranked No. 4 in the D2 College Sports Communicators poll, No. 4 in the CBB Nation poll, No. 6 in the NABC poll, and No. 1 in the West Region poll.
With the growing recognition of both programs, the fan experience was improved with new features: A newly branded student section named “The Legion”, which is a nod to our Roman soldier mascot; an exclusive in-venue hospitality space called Farrelli’s Courtside Club, which is sponsored by Farrelli’s Pizza; and a comprehensive game day program highlighting key aspects of the university and greater community.
Welcome New Saint Martin’s University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Natalie Marlowe
New women’s head basketball coach Natalie Marlowe says she is excited and optimistic for this season, with the team welcoming her and the new standard she has set. Marlowe says her style of play will be fresh and different than seen in past GNAC games. “I know it will be a little bit of a curveball,” she says.
“I told [our student athletes] at the first meeting if they don’t believe we are capable of winning a GNAC championship, then they may need to look at another place,” she explains. “They need to show up every day and buy into the process. And they embraced that.”
Marlowe joined Saint Martin’s University in July after a national search, bringing more than a decade of coaching experience from different institutions and successful basketball programs at both the Division I and Division II conference levels. She jumped right in to meet the team and staff, support Saint Martin’s outreach to kids, recruit new players, and more. “I coach because of the impact I can have on lives,” she shares. “That includes how to further your life, make friends, enjoy where you are, and learn something new.”
With a few players currently battling injuries, Marlowe predicts the team won’t reach its peak until January but that doesn’t impact her vision of a conference championship. “I’ve been the underdog practically everywhere I’ve been,” she says. “That doesn’t scare me at all.”
“I really want the community to come out and support the team,” Marlowe adds. “I’m really excited to show them Saint Martin’s University basketball.”
Meet Championship-Winning Saint Martin’s University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Aaron Landon
Now in his fourth season at Saint Martin’s University, men’s head basketball coach and 2022 GNAC Coach of the Year Aaron Landon is acutely aware that the Saints are considered the team to beat, given their recent successes in landing back-to-back regular season conference titles. “We are on everybody’s radar,” he says of the 2023-2024 season. However, that reality doesn’t stop the team’s aim to win a third consecutive championship, which would be a first in the current GNAC configuration.
“We show up every day thinking about that,” he says. “Our slogan has been, ‘Dream With Open Eyes.’ They can chase that dream. They have earned that right.”
Landon says the team’s recent title wins factor into this season’s highly competitive play. “With that comes a tremendous amount of pressure and expectations,” he says. “We want to play and prepare for managing expectations and pressure. These are young student-athletes. In our conference, this pressure is fairly unprecedented.”
“Opposing teams will play harder than they ever have before,” Landon explains. “We have to make sure that we give them the best version of ourselves to our opponents while taking it one day at a time.”
“It’s awesome to be in the national spotlight,” Landon adds. “We have been ranked in the top 25 in the country (in 2023). That’s a tremendous pride point at Saint Martin’s.”
Saints Welcome College Basketball Fans to 2023-2024 Season and January 18 ‘Pack the Pavilion’
College sports bring the Saint Martin’s University campus and surrounding community together while encouraging activities, exercise and public pride. It may be cold and dark outside during these Pacific Northwest winter months, but it’s bright and warm inside the Marcus Pavilion’s TwinStar Credit Union Court, where Saints Athletics fans cheer for the South Sound’s only NCAA Division II basketball teams.
For game dates, see the men’s and women’s schedules online. And, mark your calendar to join the teams for “Pack-the-Pavilion” on January 18, 2024, in Marcus Pavilion! The Saints will attempt to break three attendance records in two games on one day at this sell-out event.
Saint Martin’s University basketball tickets are available for purchase at the door. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for season ticket information.
Saint Martin’s University
Hal & Inge Marcus Pavilion
5300 Pacific Ave SE, Lacey, WA 98503