Saint Vincent The Favorite In A Deep PAC Field

By John D’Abruzzo

Expect the St. Vincent College men’s basketball team to be a frontrunner in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference this season. The two-time defending champion Bearcats were voted as the preseason favorite when the conference released its coaches’ poll on Nov. 14.

“With what we’ve been able to accomplish in the PAC the past few seasons, we always have high expectations,” said longtime St. Vincent head coach D.P. Harris, who is back for his 12th season. “Our goal every year is to win the conference, win 20 games and go to the NCAA tournament.

“Our players are on board with that goal and want to follow the tradition of the program.”

As voted on by the league’s head coaches, St. Vincent College earned four of nine first-place votes to headline this year’s annual preseason poll. The Bearcats went 22-7 last season and finished 12-4 in the PAC to capture their second straight PAC championship. The program also made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Sean Kett

Saint Vincent senior Sean Kett

Despite graduating stars Dillon Stith, who was last year’s PAC Player of the Year, as well as Isaac Turner, Harris welcomes back a wealth of experience in 6-foot-5 senior forward Sean Kett (Miami, Fla.), 6-2 junior guard J.C. Howard (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 6-2 junior guard Dan Sinwell (Greensburg, Pa.), 5-9 junior guard Ben Klimchock (Greensburg, Pa.) and 6-3 junior guard Pat Jones (Frostburg, Md.).

“Since we began this season, I’ve been surprised by what Pat Jones has done,” Harris said. “After losing two big players in Dillon Stith and Isaac Turner, Pat has sort of come out from their shadows and has played very well early by averaging about 20 points a game. He’s certainly been a bright spot.”

Harris also is excited about the additions of transfers Jaylon Bell (Ocoee, Fla./Leo University), a 5-11 junior guard, and 6-7 sophomore forward Austin Ford (Blue Bell, Pa./Kutztown).

“Because we have some new players, this season is going to be about how these guys want to play,” Harris said. “Early into this season we began rotating players in and out of the game. Five guys in and five guys out to keep them fresh on the court.

“We’re going to put more bodies on the floor, and that’s something I believe you need to do to be successful at the Division III level.”

Waynesburg University finished second in the preseason poll, followed by Thomas More College, Bethany College, Thiel College, Washington & Jefferson College, Grove City College, Geneva College and Westminster College.

Waynesburg went 9-7 in the PAC last season and was led by Jason Propst (Brighton, Colo.), who averaged 11.2 points a game as a junior. The 6-5 senior forward as well as 6-4 senior forward Jacob Fleegle (Jennerstown, Pa.) headline the Yellow Jackets’ returning starters. Waynesburg is guided by head coach Mark Christner who won the PAC’s Coach of the Year award last season, making him the school’s first men’s basketball coach to receive the honor since Jacket legend Rudy Marisa following the 1997-98 season.

Drew Mumford (Louisville, Ky.) paced Thomas Moore with 14.7 points a game last year to help the Saints to a 15-12 finish and third straight appearance in the conference title game. The 6-2 senior forward is back this season as is 6-2 guard/forward Nate McGovey (Alexandria, Ky.).

Bethany College is coming off a 21-6 overall campaign. The Bison went 14-2 in the conference last year and were led by Delonte’ Joyce (Annapolis, Md.), who averaged 16.9 points as a junior. The 6-1 guard is back for his senior season. He as well as Antonio Rudolph (New Castle, Pa.), a 6-2 sophomore guard, are expected to be two key offensive weapons for the Bison.

Khari Bess (Waldorf, Md.) averaged 13.1 points last season to help Thiel finish 7-9 in the conference. The 6-1 guard is back for his junior year. He and 6-6 senior forward Eric Mallinger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) are the Tomcats’ top returnees this season. Mallinger garnered the first PAC Player of the Week award of the young season with an impressive performance at Westminster’s Buzz Ridl Classic.

W&J posted an 8-8 mark in the PAC last year but has been beset by injury early in the 2014-15 campaign. Players like 5-7 senior guard Doug Johnson (Greensburg, Pa.) and 6-1 senior guard Mike Resnik (White Oak, Pa.) are returning starters who will try to keep the Presidents afloat in the early portion of the schedule.


Grove City senior Mitch Marmelstein

Grove City finished 7-9 in the conference last year and were led by Mitch Marmelstein (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), who averaged 13.3 points a game. Already looking sharp, Marmelstein reached the 1,000 point plateau for his career with a 21-point performance in a season opening win against Franciscan University. The 6-3 senior guard is complimented by Brian Giesler (Harrisville, Pa.), a 6-3 senior forward, and 5-8 senior guard J.T. Schwartz (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who are expected to guide the Wolverines this winter.

Geneva College struggled through a 1-15 run in the conference last year. The Golden Tornadoes welcome back 6-4 junior guard/forward Ethan Adamcyz (Uniontown, Ohio), 6-3 senior guard/forward Tyler Damazo (Beaver Falls, Pa.) and 6-3 sophomore guard Chaese Vaudrin (Uniontown, Ohio).

Westminster is expected to go through another rebuilding season after winning just two conference games last year. The Titans, though, do return 6-3 junior guard/forward Paul Carswell (Painesville, Ohio) and 6-4 junior guard/forward Charlie Wallander (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

“This is the most competitive and most talented I’ve seen this conference,” Harris said. “From top to bottom, every team is well coached.

“The PAC has a history of being known as a football conference, now we’re seeing basketball improve greatly. We’re getting closer to where more than one team will be making the NCAA tournament.”

We’ll take a look at PAC women’s basketball next week. The PAC Sports Network will be broadcasting 12 doubleheaders and 27 total basketball games this winter.  Click here for our 2014-2015 broadcast schedule.