Penn College Men's Basketball Team Rebuilding
Pennsylvania College of Technology men's basketball coach Gene Bruno has one goal for his team this season: stay competitive.
With no returning starters, after back-to-back seasons in which his squad reached the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference playoffs, Bruno knows his team has its work cut out.
"We're going to be young and inexperienced. Some of the players didn't play a lot in high school, and they're going to be getting minutes. We're definitely going to have some growing pains," assessed Bruno, who is starting his sixth season.
"I'm not saying we can't make the playoffs, it's just going to be a lot of work because of the inexperienced returning players and the very young players that are coming in," the coach continued.
"We'd like to stay competitive. (Williamsport) is a basketball town and we're going to try real hard to represent the town the best we can," Bruno added.
Starters in Thursday night's 7 p.m. season opener at Penn State-York will be Pete Pecora, a 6-foot-1 guard from Lewistown; Dan Shields, a 6-4 forward from Otto-Eldred, and Greg Davis, a 6-7 center from Kutztown, all sophomore returnees from last year's squad that tied a school win record when it went 14-11, along with Jason Cahill, 5-8 freshman guard from Sayre, and either Jason McKenzie, 6-5 sophomore forward from State College; Theo Dickerson, 6-4 freshman forward from Hempfield, or Joe Knapick, 6-2 freshman guard from Shamokin.
Commenting on his three returnees, Bruno said, "They were very instrumental in last season's success. Pecora came off the bench and scored in double figures several times for us, Shields did a good job coming off the bench and throwing in three-pointers for us, and Davis was our sixth man as far as board power. We'll be leaning on them a lot this year."
During the preseason, Bruno has been running two five-man units in and out, and, among the others in that group, are Matt Michaels, 6-foot freshman guard from Williamsport; Shawn Hoffman, 6-foot freshman guard from Warrior Run, and Tony Flint, 6-1 freshman guard from Port Allegheny.
Also on the squad are Mark Demshock, 6-2 freshman guard from Williamsport; Chris Comacho, 6-foot freshman guard from Muncy; Chad Faust, 6-3 freshman forward from Southern Columbia; Jeremy Valajac, 6-2 sophomore forward from Blossburg North Penn; Brandon Way, 6-2 freshman guard from Chestnut Ridge; Matt Quinn, 6-1 freshman guard from Hazleton Bishop Hafey, and Dan Hill, 6-3 freshman forward from Harford Tech.
Helping Bruno with the team this year is Adrian Harry, a non-paid assistant.
Because of its lack of overall height and shooting that Bruno says will "come and go," the Wildcats will depend heavily on their trapping defense.
"I think we're a better trapping team than we were the last two years. . . . We're trying to cause 20-25 turnovers a game with our defense, but, if we turn around and cough it up 15-18 times, (we've) really gained nothing out of it.
"It'll (trapping) be so important to us because we have to compensate for the lack of rebounding. We'll have to work real hard trying to prevent teams from running their defense against us; rush their game up a little bit. Hopefully, our defense will give us an opportunity to stay close and an opportunity to win," Bruno said. "I know we have to win the close ones. . . . They have to learn real quick and grow up real fast."