Penn College Men's, Women's Basketball Teams Set for Openers Thursday
The Pennsylvania College of Technology men's and women's basketball teams open their seasons Thursday hosting Central Penn College at Bardo Gymnasium. The women play at 6 p.m. and the men at 8.
Men Key offensive returnees from last year's men's team that finished 14-14 overall and 12-6 in all Penn State University Athletic Conference games, placing second in the conference, are junior guard Leroy Joiner (Williamsport), who scored 527 points (a 19.5-per-game average) and senior center Greg Solyak (Lititz), who scored 498 points (17.8-per-game average). Veteran coach Gene Bruno returns for his 15 th season with the men.
Other returnees are sophomore guard Noor Ford (Williamsport), junior forward Wyatt Decker (Dushore) and seniors Nico Italiani (guard/Easton) and Phil Kaylor (guard/Lebanon), while newcomers are sophomores Allen Regan (guard/Woodbine, N.J.) and Jordan McBeth (guard/Biglerville) and freshmen Harold Rainier (forward/Loyalsock Township), Bryant House (center/Columbia Cross Roads), Jordan Dilello (guard/Oneonta, N.Y.), Nyeem Haynes (guard/Elkins Park) and Ethan Kline (guard/Bellefonte).
On Thursday, Bruno looks to start Joiner, Solyak, Ford, Italiani and either Kaylor or House. Both Joiner and Solyak come into the season as 1,000-point career scorers for the Wildcats; Joiner with 1,019 in two seasons and Solyak with 1,143 in three seasons.
Of his team's offense and defense, Bruno said, "We've been working real hard on a true motion offense. "¦ The motion offense is all about passing and screening, cutting and very little dribbling. I'm going to try and stay with 40 minutes of pressure, as the (Arkansas) Razorbacks used to call it "40 minutes of hell' with constant offensive and defensive pressure, and hopefully being able to outlast a team at the end due to the fatigue factor."
Looking ahead, Bruno, who is assisted by Tony White, Jason Perry and volunteer Tom Little, said, "If we can get those younger kids to grow up and mix in with the others we can be in the hunt again. My hope is that we're going to host (a PSUAC playoff) this year instead of being on the road. I think we can win our division, although it won't be easy."
Women For the women, leading scorer forward Kierstin Steer (sophomore/South Williamsport), who scored 301 points (a 12.5 average), returns. The women finished 9-15 overall and were 8-7 in all PSUAC games as they were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Matt Wilt is the women's new head coach this season and is assisted by former Wildcat player Erica Logan.
Other returnees include senior Danielle Trout (forward/Harrisburg) and sophomore Casey Braun (center/Hughesville). Newcomers are freshmen Katherine Lisi (forward/Montoursville), Robin Hampton (center/Watsontown), Keiosha Cooksey (center/Harrisburg), Kendra Dutrow (forward/Bellefonte), Heather Rice (guard/Biglerville), Tosha Stover (guard/Bellefonte), Samantha Wallish (guard/Harrisburg) and Kerry Weber (guard/Saylorsburg).
In his team's opener, Wilt expects to start Stover, Rice, Steer, Dutrow and Braun.
Offensively, the coach said, "We're looking to push the ball up the floor at all times. We want to dictate the tempo, and hopefully we've got enough good players coming off the bench to just run teams ragged. We've got depth and it doesn't matter who starts because everybody is pretty even.
"Defensively, we play man-to-man. We're going to press, but we're not going to play much zone," said the former Montgomery High School boy's coach.
Penn College women have reached the playoffs each of the past six years and Wilt expects more of the same. "We're basically looking to win the league. There is no rebuilding. We've practiced very well; we've had two very good scrimmages. We've very focused; the girls have done a great job getting ready. We're chomping at the bit waiting for Thursday," he said.