The Point Park Pioneers are welcomed back home this evening after both teams went 1-1 over their road trip last weekend. The ladies got a much needed win after falling to the Cougars less than 24 hours before taking on the Bulldogs of Wilberforce. The game was a difficult one to watch in the first half. Slow, a lot of missed shots, and down right boring basketball. The home crowd, or lack there of, did not help the matter either. But there were positives to come out of it for the Pioneers. 1. A much needed road win. 2. April Austin finally got going a little bit in the second half, she had 21 points for the game. 3. Joncelyn Peterkin had possibly her best game that I have seen her play with 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 blocks. The Pioneers are really going to need her, Terrica Jones, and Anna-Marie Boshkova in this stretch run. They desperately need that inside presence to counter what they CAN (I stress can in this situation) have from the outside. If one of the three can get going on any night, then that will force teams to double on the inside, and thats right, that will leave someone whether it be Ashley Henderson, Austin, Beatty, or Sandin or the bench open to knock down the three.
Including tonight eight games remain for the Pioneers. Four against teams below them in the standings, four against teams above them. They need to take care of business if they want to go to the playoffs. That means win against those bottom four, and steal a couple. And there are more than a couple that this team can steal when they play well. Tonight they take on the Malone Pioneers, a lonely 1-7 in conference play. But PPU can not just look at the record. I would love to see PPU make a statement win. Pedal to the metal all night long. If they can, go out there and blow a team out by 30, get some confidence. Do not run the shot clock out with 17 minutes in the 2nd half. Do not be the nice guys, or in this case ladies. Same old Malone team here, Amy Kittle and Allyson Wilson both have double-figures in scoring on the season, but those are both ladies who do their damage from the outside so the Pioneers will have to defend the perimeter. Inside players like Ashley Speicher and Tyler Darland do not scare me in the least. The only thing that does is a girl names Julie Conley. A sophomore who stands at 6’6, but she has only appeared in four games this year and averages 2 points per. Not that scary when you really look at it. Now to the keys
PPU: 1. Take advantage of the paint: Need somewhere between 30-40 points in the paint in this one for me to be satisfied. That does not mean Peterkin and company have to do all that work. Henderson and others need to penetrate to do that work as well.
2. Rebound: Can not get out rebounded by a team like the Pioneers (Malone). You have to get a butt on someone and create that space down low. Everyone can boxout, doesn’t matter the size, you have to choose to do it though.
3. 40 minutes: Last time I checked there are 40 minutes in a women’s basketball game. The Pioneers need to play all of them and get some momentum. If you play 40 tonight and know that it is possible to play to the potential you are able to, then good things will come. Like one winning turning into two, two to three, three in four, and hell not to get crazy but maybe a little winning streak.
Malone: 1. Clog the paint: PPU offense is mainly focused on the paint area. Whether it is from the forwards or penetration. If you clog up the paint then the Pioneers offense get disrupted.
2. Get in a rhythm from deep: If you shoot well from the outside early and come out with a strong jab to start the game you might startle the Pioneers at home. Teams like you just need to hang in there to have a chance, the answer is the three ball.
3. Look to today, not yesterday: I know you are on a 6 game losing streak, most people do not know this but a lot of basketball is mental. Thinking that you are going to make the shot, telling yourself to push it on defense. When teams are in skids, sometimes they forget this. 6 is in the past, look to today.
Prediction: I would like to say that I saw a different Pioneers team over the weekend… I didn’t… But for whatever reason I know this team is one game away from turning a season around. All is not lost, today is the day. Pioneers win, well Point Park that is 80-54.
The Pioneer men’s roller coaster season continued over the weekend. A tough loss to MVNU where Kris Douse tied a school record with 45 points. Then less than 24 hours later they go out and play one of the top 5 halves of basketball I have seen them play in my four years here, then go out and play a lackluster second half, win by 10 and have Coach Rager tie the all-time wins record at the school. Congratulations coach, 305 is a good feat. I know you have some more in you, its has been a pleasure to be here with you during the wins, and the losses. Coach is a great guy, he will fight for you all the time, but he expects the best out of you and the team no matter what.
Right now is no different than any other time. The team has great potential, and he knows that, regardless of the injury bug that is around the team right now. TJ Heatherington still out with a knee injury, might be able to come back towards the tail end, Jimmy Sherwood missed the Wilberforce game due to a wrist injury but is expected to play this evening, also Josh Trocchio is battling a wrist injury but he played against Wilberforce and was not listed on the very official injury report. But the team is not in disarray, Joel Cashatt has filled in nicely for Heatherington, and TJ’s brother Robbie has played well at times too. And Douse, well he has been a monster. AMC Player of the Week for his work last week. Over the weekend he had 74 points through two games. His ability to created is unmatched, and the Pioneers need it down the stretch.
Including tonight the Pioneers have 10 games left, six of which are on the road, and are tough road games at that (#1 Walsh, Cedarville, Roberts Wesleyan, and #18 Malone). As for the other Pioneers they are coming off a home loss to Daemen but only dropped one spot in the rankings. This Malone team puzzles me. I look at their stats, and roster, and think that this team is just so darn beatable. No one that is going to kill you with height (Brandson Ephraim is 6’7 215 and Ebi Porbeni is 6’6 225). The danger is from the outside with this team. Kyle Higgins, Eric Coblentz, Jock Rottman, and others can all shoot the deep ball. If they are on, you might as well go home and take the rest of the night off because you will not beat them. But even if they just have an ok day from deep I feel that this team is beatable. Just not impressed. Now later on tonight I might be eating those words, but I have an odd feeling that tonight might be a night for the green and gold. Pioneers lost by 3 last year against a team that is very similar to this one (personal wise). Lets get to the keys
PPU 1. Joel Cashatt: He is my number one key. He needs to go out there and do what he has done well in the absence of Heatherington. And that is be the floor general. He has had a triple-double once this year, why not another? He is great from the outside, above average passer, and a good rebounder. Needs to be the better PG on the floor tonight.
2. Rebound: When Malone misses, which I do not thing happens a lot, you need to limit them to just ONE shot. Do not give them second, third, and fourth opportunities to get it outside and jab you with a trey.
3. Run the system: PPU is best when they are running the floor. Get out and push and make Malone run with you on the road. Go try and put up 200, you might need all of the 200 you get.
Malone: 1. Perimeter offense: I do not think I am telling any secrets here but the Pioneers defense has been, well, sketchy. You’ll have open shots, knock them down when you get them.
2. Box Douse: You need to keep this guy off the boards on both ends. He is like a vacuum when that ball is on the glass. Much like in football when you put a hat on a hat, you need to put something on Douse, arm, leg, shoe anything to slow him down.
3. Respond: Time for that short memory thing with the men too. Just came off a lose at home against Daemen. Need to make a quick turnaround or things could fall for you quickly. It will help if you get out early and go on a run. Do not let the Pioneers hang in.
Prediction: I just do not get this Malone team. I just don’t. If the Pioneers were totally healthy I would have less trouble picking them. But for whatever reason I can not pick this Malone team on the road. Gut says go Malone, but mind says go Point Park……. Mind of matter this time around, do not make me look like a fool… 105-96 Point Park
Well thats all folks, remember fan vans tonight, if you can not catch on of those, listen like on the MSA Sports Network and 670 AM WPPJ. Myself and Kevin Calhoun with the women, myself and Aaron Cooney with the men. Bring your brooms if you are coming to the game. And for goodness sakes can we get a theme night for the students??? Dress up! Make it a true home-court advantage!