Ahhh do you feel that in the air? No its not that cold neck chilling air, its something else. Something… Sporty. The calender has changed and it is now that time, time for the basketball season to start. It comes as a bit of a surprise. Basketball season kind of just sneaks up on you. However it has not snuck up on the Pioneers. They have been in the gym, waiting and rearing to go. You are going to see and hear a lot of differences on this teams job. Some are good changes, some will hurt. But this years team can flat out score, and that is exactly what coach Bob Rager likes to do.
Key Additions: The player that I am most excited to see is Kris Douse. Douse is a senior this season and is a transfer from Delaware St. Before that he played at Nebraska as a freshman. The former cornhusker excites me because of how explosive he is with his first step and the his potential to play above the rim. In the AMC you need a guy that is capable of that. It is no surprise that the most successful teams in the AMC in recent years have had one good guard and one good forward (Walsh with Weems and Cescato, Notre Dame with Dummermuth and McFarland, and Cedarville with Beals and Alliman). Douse could be a guy like Ricky Jackson of Walsh. The potential is there, stay tuned to see if it happens or not.
Another key addition to the roster this season is senior Jimmy Sherwood. Sherwood is a transfer from Arkansas Tech (NCAA DII) and before that Duquesne. He made 24 appearances as a Duke and started 6 of those. This guy can play. He has a good shooting stroke and run up and down the floor with ease. It is tough not to get excited about Sherwood. Between him and Douse, the Pioneer athleticism has improved drastically.
The last key addition’s last name might sound familiar and it should. Heatherington. TJ’s younger brother Robbie is hear and is projected to be in tonight’s starting lineup. Robbie, like his brother, graduated from from Serra Catholic High School and in his senior year at Serra averaged 24 points per game. Robbie is in the top of the team as far as shooting talent. He should be very capable to play as a freshman however he needs to grow a bit, and it will be interesting to see how he makes the transition from high school to college. His brother did it fine, I am sure he will be able to too.
Key Departure: Well if you listened at all last season or seen any of the highlights on the Pioneer Sideline, you would know that the human highlight reel that was Gerald Warrick has gone to greener pastures. It will be a loss, however with the additions, the team should not miss a beat.
Key Returning Players: Guys that are returning are plentiful that will be able to contribute. TJ Heathington and Dante Anglin look to be starters again this year and guys like Josh Trocchio, Eric Johnson, Devon Alexander, and Joel Cashatt look to contribute and be factors for the team.
Tonight starts it all, the grind that is the basketball season. The one that most of us love, and that most of our girlfriends hate (but who cares about them). As I will before every game this season I will give you my keys to the game for both teams. 3 keys for both that I feel if executed, should lead to victory.
Point Park Keys: 1. Stop Brent Reynolds: Reynolds is an all-conference player for the Saints, he was also named a NAIA Honorable Mention All-American. Averaged just under 16 PPG but shot well from the field as well shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.
2. Attack the Paint: Siena Heights does not have anyone above 6’6. Their biggest frame is 6’6 220. This needs to be exploited by the Pioneers. Although PPU is not a big team themselves, sometimes they are able to play big. And at some point in the half court offense it would be wise to establish an inside game whether it be from Douse, Anglin, or Alexander.
3. Start Fast: Pioneers strength in running up and down the floor, they need to do it early in this one and get ahead. The Saints are ranked #25 in the nation so they are not a pushover. Getting ahead and playing ahead should help this team mesh together with the new players. It is easier to do that than getting behind early. Getting ahead will open much more doors for the Pioneer offense.
Siena Heights Keys: 1. Attack Robbie Heatherington: Let’s face facts. The kid is a freshman and he is a smaller guard. You have to get after him to try to get into his head early. It is unclear how Robbie with make the transition from high school to college, attack him early and often to see how he will. If you let him get into a rhythm shooting the ball then he will not have a problem, if he struggles early, you have him where you want him.
2. Attack the Paint: Sound familiar? Same goes for the Saints here. The Pioneers are not big. Their biggest frame sits are 6’7 230 being Douse. He is a strong guy, very strong. But you have to establish that presence so that your outside game can take over. Whoever leads in points in the paint will win this one, take that to the bank
3. Play Like you Should: This Saints team is a 20+ game winning from last season. They are ranked in the top 25, picked to finish 3rd in their conference. Point Park on the other hand is unranked and was picked to finish 8th in the AMC. All signs point toward a Saints win.
There it is ladies and gentleman. Now all you have to do is follow myself: @jpfrket and WPPJ: @WPPJ on twitter for LIVE updates all day long about the Pioneers basketball team from where we are to what I just ate. Also don’t forget to listen LIVE tonight, game time is 5:30, pre-game show with Kevin Calhoun will start at 5:15. Take the rest of the day off folks, basketball season is here.
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