Having that turkey hangover? Don’t want to go to class? Yea I understand that feeling, unfortunately I stay at home one night and get horribly sick, which I still am. Never fun, sore throat, hacking green stuff, the whole nine yards just wonderful. However the show must go on, and by the show I mean the broadcasts tonight. And big they are young padawan. Anytime the conference season starts it is always big, but it is not just that, its Walsh. This is like Steelers vs Patriots here. Walsh has a very storied tradition especially on the Men’s side of things. But as of late the Walsh Women have been very good as well. PPU will have their hands full tonight. Beginning with the men, the Walsh Men are the best in the nation, literally, they are ranked #1 overall in NAIA DII. They have earned it, national runner-up in last years NAIA tournament and a very good ballclub with players like Jeremy Shardo, Lamar Skeeter, Eric Schiele, and Kenny Kornowski. Team is stacked, they are the equivalent of a full house in poker. But the Pioneers are showing a good poker hand this year as well. A very good PG in T.J. Heatherington with a surrounding cast with NCAA DI transfers Jimmy Sherwood and Kris Douse who leads NAIA DII in rebounds. PPU is going to need to have him clean the glass all night long if they want to hang in there against the Cavs. Josh Trocchio had a big game on Saturday, his first of the year and Pioneers are going to need him to have another one this evening. The big thing is for Point Park to play take care of the basketball. Walsh is going to score a lot, you need to take care of your positions on offense because they will be so very precious. Remember the West Liberty game? Walsh can put up that amount of points. On to the Women, a very interesting Walsh team comes into town tonight. Ranked 14th in the pre-season pull and with three loses they remain only 3 slots lower at 17th. This is good for Point Park. I think the Pioneers have a real legitimate shot to be a very good basketball team this season and with a conference opening win against a top 20 team would really be a statement early on. The Pioneers were last in action last Tuesday against Geneva in a blowout win. April Austin, on her birthday, struggled from the field ending with just 1 point. Don’t expect that to happen again, and believe me, I expect her to have a HUGE game tonight. I feel the same about Ashley Henderson as well. When it is a big game, your star players are expected to show up all game long, and I expect it tonight from those two. But that is not all the Pioneers have though, Peterkin has improved her game on the offensive end of the floor dramatically from last season. She has been able to be a force on the inside. It is tough to guard when she can post you up, then step back to the elbow, take to steps and have a lay-in. The Pioneers can go about 9 or 10 deep, which will show how improved this team is and will be an advantage once the seasons get into the deep months of January and February. To the Walsh Women, it is interesting why this team has 3 losses. Bringing back all kinds of starters like Ciera Burkes, Jessie Miller, Katie Berry, and Cara Bedard. They are a solid ballclub, why they have struggled in the early part of the year is puzzling, but stay tuned to the broadcast, I will find out. Lets get to my keys of the game for both games tonight starting with the Women.
PPU Women vs Walsh Women:
1. Inside out basketball: Not to many things in the world are good inside out (tee-shirts, body parts, ect.) but playing basketball this way I like, and can be very effective. Establish Peterkin on the inside will free up shooters like Swedish, Austin, and Hendo.
2. Transition Defense: Last year Walsh came into town and run up and down the floor on the Pioneers, mainly because they had trouble getting back on defense, don’t let it happen again, get back and play D.
3. Outscore their bench: Have to get the bench into action. Have to see good minutes from Boshkova, Beatty, Shaw, and the rest of the bench if winning is into the future. Can not have a lull while the starters are out.
1. Start fast: Have to jump out on PPU, if you do it they might crawl into a shell and not come out. Remember your the road team, important to get the lead early.
2. Defend the Outside: Pioneers shoot very well from the outside, you do not want them to heat up from deep or that #17 ranking might slip even more.
PPU Men vs Walsh Men
1. Take care of the ball: You have to take care of your offensive positions more than usual tonight. Walsh is really good, and can score a lot of points, do not give them any extra opportunities.
2. Defend the Outside: Shardo, Skeeter, and Schiele can all shoot from deep very good so you need to get a hand in their face everytime they shoot because even when they do, they can still fall so do not give them an open look.
3. Make Free-Throws: The Pioneers are horrendous from the stripe. They need to put away the free opportunities tonight. No need to waste free points.
1. Play like you are: Only one key here because that is all that is needed. Your #1 in the nation, play like it and you should get a win here.
Thats all she wrote folks, make sure you come out to the games tonight on the fan van but if you can’t, make sure you listen to us LIVE on 670 AM WPPJ and the MSA Sports Network. Pre-game is 15 minutes before the tip-offs. Women tip and 5:30, Men and scheduled for 7:30. Support your Pioneers, it should be a GREAT night of basketball!