Well here we are once again. I have moved back into my apartment and it is balls cold outside, yep it must be January. But January just doesn’t mean that school is starting back up and it is colder than being frozen by sub-zero in mortal kombat… It also means that basketball is back and its the heart of the conference schedule. Tomorrow morning myself and both teams will depart from downtown and head north to Amherst, New York to take on the Wildcats of Daemen. PPU has had games since the last time we have talked (you would know if you have been listening to the broadcasts). The women have gone 3-1 since the last Friday of the semester, including a 2 point win at #25 Notre Dame. The only loss came from NAIA D1 opponent Shawnee State who is a good basketball team. Also since then Ashley Henderson wasnamed the AMC Player of the Week (last week) and April Austin has returned to form that we saw in the beginning of the year. However with the injury to Heather Swedish and Anna Shaw leaving the team due to personal reasons, the Pioneers bench is short, which means more of the workload will fall into Henderson and Austin’s hands. But it is the stars of the team who need to step up in those situations and they have been able to handle it thus far, but they will need to continue. Something else that needs to happen is production from the short bench. Anna-Marie Boshkova, Sarah Sandin, and Ashley Bergman (when she returns from getting her wisdom teeth out) need to produce. All are more than capable of doing so when given the chance. As for the Daemen women they have a star of their own in the likes of Sarah Soroka. I mentioned that Henderson was named AMC POW last week, Soroka was named POW the other 6 weeks the award was given out this year. She is the reason this team is ranked 12. She leads all of D11 NAIA in PPG with just over 24. She has help though. Marybeth Nugent leads the AMC in assists per game with 4.71, she also is averaging 10 points per. Bridgette Burke is also averaging double-figures per with 12.2 points. A possible x-factor for Daemen is Monica Kosiner. She has only appeared in 13 out of the 17 Daemen games and is only averaging about 4 a game but she is 6’5, and that is dangerous. And she’s Canadian, I do love Canadians, I bet shes a heck of a hockey player too. Now to the keys
Keys of the Game (Women)
PPU: 1. Work inside out: Peterkin had a very slow start against Carlow much like everyone else on the team. But it will be VITAL to get Peterkin going early and often to open up the outside.
2. Get back in tranition: Anything VITAL part of the game will be the transition for both teams. PPU struggles in this a lot. The Pioneers will need to get back on D and not give the Wildcats any easy buckets.
3. Get 1,000 early: Henderson is 5 points away from 1,000 career points. She had the chance to get it at Carlow but since the Pioneers had the lead, Coach K (not the Duke one) sat back in a passive offense. The last thing the Pioneers need is to force the ball to Henderson to try and get 1,000. It will come, just don’t force it.
Daemen 1. Utilize home-court: There have been some really bad Point Park Women’s teams go up to Daemen and play competitive in Amherst. The Pioneers are on the verge of making their way to being an elite team in the conference. Do not let them get comfortable in your gym, hop on early and don’t let go.
2. Soroka Power: Also in my memory is Soroka always having poor showing against the Pioneers. Especially at home. She needs to get going early if Daemen does not want to be upset. It will be tough going up against Peterkin, but she needs to be there.
3. Bench points: Your a deep team, show it. If you wear those starters down of PPU or get them in foul trouble, it will be easier than not getting that bench going.
Prediction: This is going to be a good one. If Soroka gets going then watch out, Daemen might cruise. But if not this one will be good. Pioneers have played well in the gym but have not come away with a win, lost their last 2 at Daemen and win-less against the Wildcast in the past 5. Time for a change. PPU 66- Daemen 60
On the Men’s side of things they have gone 2-0 over the break thus far and have been scoring at a scary rate. 94 points per game is good for 3rd in NAIA DII behind the #1 ranked team in the nation by just 2 points. In their last two games they have scored 213 points in their past two games (one against a NAIA D1 team the other against AMC conference opponent Wilberforce). Kris Douse (also Canadian) is still leading all of DII in rebounds per game with 13.36. Its the scoring and the classic run and gun offense of Bob Rager that has this team scary to face. The depth of the scoring. TJ Heatherington, Jimmy Sherwood, Douse, Joel Cashatt, Josh Trocchio, Devon Alexander, Donte Anglin can all go and get at least 10 a game, and Heatherington, Sherwood, Douse, Cashatt, and Trocchio all can get 20. They have shot well in 2011 so far and do not show any signs of slowing. The Daemen men are not a bad team either. Not what we are used to seeing, but still tough to beat especially at home. Khorri Silcott and MJ Oridami are good players but their leader is Dominic Mazzocchi who is putting in a team high 15 PPG. Remember, this Daemen team took #1 Walsh to the brink. Now to the keys
PPU: 1. Just shoot baby: The Pioneers strength is the outside. Go with it. When on, the Pioneers are as deadly as anyone shooting the deep ball. When there on, just grab an umbrella because your going to need one.
2. Actually Play Defense: Here is where the Pioneers have a problem. Defensively on nights they are horrendous. They want to outscore you but you still need to play some kind of defense.
3. Pressure the Cats: Make them make mistakes at home and get that crowd out of the game. Daemen, in the past, has had great crowds, recently not so much, make sure that if there is one, they don’t want to stay along to long.
Daemen: 1. Defend the 3: I don’t care what you do, hand in the face, yell, pull your shorts down, 3-2 defense, offer them a snack, it does not matter, do not let PPU get in a rythem from beyond the arc.
2: Get Douse in foul trouble: In the game against Walsh the Pioneers rolled with Douse in the game and had a lead, when he fouled out, the swing was monsterous. If you get him in trouble, that will take a big out of the Pioneers out of the game.
3. Set up your 3 ball: Your gonna need to shoot well from the outside, so do what is needed to set it up. Whether that is going in the inside, or doing it in transition. But you’ll need to get into a rhythm from deep.
Prediction: Pioneers continue with their high-scoring ways. Get a big AMC road win and show the pollers they deserve to be ranked. PPU 104- Daemen 90
Shocked that I picked a sweep by the Pioneers? Me too a little. The women need to get a win to earn some respect. My respect as well. Hope the holiday was well for everyone. Tune in LIVE on the MSA Sports Network to listen to all the action. Games should be good ones. Women at 5:30, Men at 7:30, myself and Aaron Cooney will have all the action for you.