Penn College Men's Basketball Coach Hopes for Growth

Published 11.14.2006


The 2006-07 Penn College men's basketball team If the Pennsylvania College of Technology men's basketball team can survive the first half of its season, the second half should be a breeze.

"It's looking like we're going to be really young and small. We've got eight nonleague games, all (NCAA) Division III teams, and seven of them are on the road. Ten of our first 13 games are on the road," said Gene Bruno, who is entering his 11th season as coach of the Wildcats. "It's going to be rough early on."

Penn College opens at 8 p.m. Friday against Susquehanna University in a tournament at Susquehanna. Other teams in the tournament are King's College and City College of New Jersey.

"We're going to try to run a transition-style of play, but I'm lacking depth. I've got an eight-man rotation, so fatigue could play a big factor, which also takes me out of my full-court trapping game," continued Bruno, whose team was 10-16 last year. "Conditioning will definitely be a factor."

Seniors on the team are Matt Michaels, a 6-foot guard from Williamsport, and Anthony Sofranek, a 5-11 forward from Newport.

"Matt is a good example of the whole program. He's worked so hard in the classroom," Bruno said. "He's definitely our floor leader, and he's been a great help with our freshmen. He is setting the precedent for the kids I have now, both on the floor and academically in the classroom. Matt really symbolizes what this program is all about."

Others on whom Bruno is counting include Tom Little (6-3 sophomore forward/Beacon Falls, Conn.), Craig Flint (6-0 sophomore guard/Port Allegany), Roberto Valentin (6-0 sophomore forward/Lebanon), Ryan Scott (6-1 freshman guard/Dallastown), Joe Simon (6-2 freshman forward/ Renovo), Jamal Thomas (5-8 freshman guard/Williamsport), Jameel McAfee (5-8 freshman guard/Williamsport), Jose Rosa (5-10 freshman forward/Hartford, Conn.), Terrance Royster (6-0 freshman guard/Womelsdorf) and Danor Lumo (6-1 freshman forward/Brooklyn, N.Y.).

"We'll really be living by the 3-pointer. We're going to try to put a lot of shots up. But that's the way we really have to play. I've only got one post player to go to," the coach continued, pointing out that Flint, Valentin and Scott will be his go-to outside shooters.

"I'd have to honestly say we're playing for the league (Penn State University Athletic Conference). I'm not saying we're going to lose those (nonleague) games, but the odds of winning those games are probably against us because of our immaturity, our size and playing against those veteran bigger schools," Bruno said. "But, hopefully, it's allowing us to get better, learn the system, get ourselves in even better game conditioning and, by the second half of the year, maybe making a run for the league (title)."

Despite his concerns, Bruno, who is assisted by Matt Johnson, said one real bright spot for his squad is its intelligence.

"We are probably more advanced than any of the teams of the last five years as far as knowledge, knowing what to do and taking things in. It's a very smart group," Bruno added. "I'm starting to see the beginning of being able to recruit better kids in academically since we went to a four-year program."

(Team photo by Phillip C. Warner, student writer-photographer)