Coach Kranthi “Krunch” Senadhi sits in his office in Hubbell Gymnasium, talking about the sport he loves. The sound of basketballs bouncing on the polished wood of the gym floor echoes down the halls and through the door. “This was always a dream job in the sense that I knew I wanted to be a head coach one day,” says Senadhi. “There isn’t any place better than University of Bridgeport. I was an assistant here and grew a lot during that time.”
“Krunch” has been Senadhi’s nickname since fourth grade and he keeps it amongst his players as a sort of “stage name” on the court. He played for Pennsylvania’s Lock Haven University from 2003-2007, then served as assistant coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earning his master’s degree in Sport Management and helping take their men’s basketball team to the NCAA Division II national championship. In 2011, he arrived as assistant coach at UB and stayed for nine seasons, serving under Coach Mike Ruane. He loved the diversity of the students, loved Seaside Park, and loved how close Bridgeport was to New York and other great places to live and work. “I kind of fell in love with Bridgeport,” he admits. “I loved the way Coach Ruane ran the UB team, which was very different than most Division II college basketball coaches.”
That early impression was reinforced by experiences with micro-managing coaches, demonstrating to Senadhi the obvious flaws in that approach. Influenced by Coach Ruane, the system that he has his team run is fast-paced, emphasizing communication and decision-making amongst the players. The style forces his athletes to be disciplined in their actions, but also creative in their gameplay. “We play something like old school basketball,” says Senadhi. “The guys are making decisions and playing at a fast pace, handling the ball in the perimeter, receiving, reversing, touching the ball hundreds of times during the game.”
The 2023-2024 season began with many ups and downs, falling to schools like Dominican University and defeating others like American International College. “Losing is discouraging,” says Senadhi. “But losing is a part of winning.” Their victory over the historic basketball program, the Cheyney University Wolves, saw the Purple Knights scoring the most points since before the pandemic in an 118-72 rout. The many three-pointers and rebounds gathered are both a tribute to UB’s style of play. “We’re a new team, with a lot of moving parts,” Senadhi continues. “We have great student-athletes who are trying to revive and renew the culture here.”
Hailing from Brooklyn, with Guyanese roots, Sam Desouza, ’22, transferred to UB to earn his master’s in Business Administration (MBA) , and to play as a forward on the team. Against Cheyney University, he totaled 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He scored 19 points against both Dominican and American International College. “Basketball is all I’ve known,” he admits. “I just fell in love with the game and willed myself to keep going.”
Reflecting on what brought him to Bridgeport, Desouza says, “I came to UB because it has a winning history and it’s close to home. I needed to be in an environment where I felt I could learn. And I’ve been learning from Coach Krunch.” DeSouza loves the fast-paced UB system and how it helps him to think on his feet, literally and figuratively. “I feel like the system itself helps you to grow as a player on and off the court,” he says. “You have to be disciplined — more disciplined than the other teams — in order to succeed.”
Twenty-three-year-old Bobby Sullivan is from nearby Trumbull, Connecticut, and is also getting his MBA, with a focus on marketing and data analytics. “Coach Krunch was a guest speaker at a basketball camp I attended, and through that I started a conversation with him, coming to games at University of Bridgeport,” said Sullivan. “He says that he will teach us how to play but that we are the ones on the floor. He gives us the opportunity and the freedom to choose.”Sullivan, DeSouza, and Coach Krunch all speak of the diversity of UB and its proximity to Seaside Park. “It’s a miniature melting pot like you’d expect from big universities that have tens of thousands of students,” says Sullivan. “It’s very different from a Division I school. It’s a tight-knit community.”
Coach Krunch’s philosophy of empowerment leading to success is one reason that the athletic community remains a vital part of the school’s broader campus community and academic experience. Senadhi explains, “We’re trying to get them to make decisions like NBA players in a lot of ways, and that’s really the way we’re trying to change the program and in the long run develop our players.” Through discipline and an emphasis on decision-making, he is helping his players succeed now, in their classes, and in their future beyond college.
“Good teams are coach-driven,” says Senadhi . “Great teams are player-driven.” A fitting punctuation to a thoughtful conversation, Senadhi walks back into the gymnasium, where his players are already practicing, the rhythmic sound of a dozen basketballs echoing to the rafters.
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