Rebuilding Penn College Men's Basketball Team Opens Saturday
With only one of his top three scorers from last year's squad returning, and seven freshmen on a 15-man roster, Pennsylvania College of Technology men's basketball coach Gene Bruno knows he's facing a rebuilding season. But that doesn't mean he's writing it off.
"I think there will be growing pains, but we have a nice chemistry which is very important to a team sometimes more important than talent," Bruno, in his 10th season, said as his team prepares for its Penn State University-Athletic Conference opener at 3 p.m. Saturday at Penn State Beaver.
Tony Flint, a 6-foot senior guard from Port Allegany who becomes the team's first four-year player as a result of the college going to four-year eligibility a year ago, is the only returnee from last year to average in double figures, with a 10.3 mark.
Also returning from the team that set a school single-season record with 15 wins against nine losses are Adam Walker, a 6-3 sophomore forward from Williamsport who averaged 8.8 points per game; 6-0 junior guard Matt Michaels of Williamsport; 5-11 junior guard Anthony Sofranek of Newport; 6-3 junior forward Josh Hoffman of Halifax, and 6-2 sophomore guard Steve Young of Dobbins Tech. Matt Melusky, a 6-4 junior center from Minersville, played for the Wildcats in 2003-04, but wasn't out last year.
Newcomers include senior Josh Tomkiel, a 6-7 forward-center from Springford, and freshmen Preston Peterson, a 6-4 forward from Williamsport; Lou Roskowski, a 5-7 guard who played high school ball at Williamsport Bishop Neumann; Eric Gainer, a 5-11 guard from Loyalsock Township; Craig Flint, a 6-1 guard from Port Allegany and Tony's younger brother; Nick Reynolds, a 6-7 center-forward from Athens; Roberto Valentin, a 6-1 guard-forward from Lebanon; and Tom Little, a 6-4 forward from Woodland Regional, Conn.
Probable starters for Saturday's opener are Tony Flint, Walker, Michaels, Peterson and Reynolds. First players off the bench will be Craig Flint, Melusky and Young.
Commenting on his starters, Bruno said:
- "Tony Flint had 45 3's last year. He's always been a nice shooter and we look for him to 'stick the rock.'
- "Adam Walker is a pure athlete. He can jump well and is probably my best man-to-man defensive player.
- "Matt Michaels will be the floor leader and I think he'll give us more offense this year. He does a great job of keeping the offense under control.
- "Preston Peterson is a kid that knows the game. Preston will be a go-to guy in crunch time.
- "Nick Reynolds led the Northern Tier in assists last year and he's an excellent passer for a forward. I think he's going to give us a nice inside game, too."
"It could be a bumpy road. The first half of the season is very rough, we've got five (NCAA) Division III games and we're in two tournaments.... (But) it's not how we start, it's how we end," Bruno said. "I'm very positive about the season."
Assisting Bruno again this season is Matt Johnson.