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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Men’s Basketball Preview: St. Vincent Tabbed As Top Cats In PAC

By Justin Zackal

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Saint Vincent eyes its fourth straight PAC crown.

Saint Vincent isn’t going to surprise anyone in PAC men’s basketball this year. That’s a good thing because the Bearcats won the conference the last three years and they’re expected to make another run this year.

“I got all those guys back, so everyone they saw last year they are going to see again,” said 13th-year head coach D.P. Harris. “So we feel really confident that we’re going to make a run for a championship.”

The Bearcats have eight seniors, five who were on the team for each of the last three PAC championships, in which Saint Vincent became the first PAC team since 1992-95 to three-peat. Those seniors are motivated to complete their careers with four titles.

If any Bearcat has a chance to surprise anyone it will be sophomore G Matt D’Amico, a transfer from Division-II Clarion. D’Amico will play the wing and sophomore F Austin Dedert, who according to Harris put on 20 pounds of muscle, will drop down the frontcourt to fill the lone vacant spot in Saint Vincent’s starting lineup left by first-team all-PAC forward Sean Kett.

PAC PREDICTION
The rest of Saint Vincent’s lineup includes three guards who combined for 974 points, or nearly half of the team’s scoring, last year. The backcourt has been together long enough and there’s too much excitement around the program for the Bearcats NOT to win their fourth straight title.

PAC DESCRIPTION
“I think the PAC is deliberate,” Harris said. “The teams in our league don’t make many mistakes. You better prepare every single night to play. All the coaches do a great job of coaching their teams. I would say we freelance more and press a little bit more than the other teams.”

Harris wouldn’t go as far to say that’s why his team has sustained so much success. He credits recruiting talented kids who are passionate about winning and who have the opportunity to win championships. However, having more talent means you can task more risks and freelance.

THREE SENIOR STARS
Jaylon Bell, Senior, G, Saint Vincent – He wasn’t named all-PAC last year but Harris thinks Bell will be the best player in the league this year. A Division II transfer, Bell averaged 9.3 points and 2.0 steals per game in his first season with the Bearcats last year.

Pat Jones, Senior, G, Saint Vincent – Jones, on the other hand, was a second-team all-PAC selection. He averaged 13.3 points and led the Bearcats in scoring in eight of their 29 games.

Ethan Adamcyzk, Senior, G/F, Geneva – The only returning first-team all-PAC pick from last year, Adamcyzk averaged 17.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game a year ago.

TWO RISING STARS
Deontay Scott, Sophomore, G, Westminster – The only freshman to get at least an all-PAC honorable mention last season, Scott led Westminster with 12.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Isaiah Brown, Freshman, G, Chatham – Chatham is literally building a team from scratch and its leader will be a freshman guard from Arkansas who, according to his coach Andrew Garcia, is “wise beyond his years” for an 18-year-old.

ONE-LINERS FOR EACH TEAM
Saint Vincent (22-7, 14-2 PAC in 2014-15) has eight seniors but only one junior and two sophomores, which makes this year important to propel the team into a possible transition season next year.

Waynesburg (18-11, 12-4) emerged from a ninth-place team 2012 to a PAC finalist last year, thanks to a seven-man class that graduated last year, but the Yellow Jackets have senior PG B.J. Durham (10.3 ppg) and three senior forwards 6 feet 4 or taller.

Bethany (18-11, 11-5) has a new coach this year in former Juniata assistant Nick Hager, who will need to find scorers after the Bison lost the PAC’s leading scorer, Delonte’ Joyce (19.1 ppg), last year and no returners averaged more than 10 points per game.

Thomas More (17-10, 11-5) was a PAC semifinalist last year and it was picked second in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll, but the Saints have one senior and one player who started nine games a year ago.

Thiel (13-13, 9-7) will rely on senior G Khari Bess (10.8 ppg), a second-team all-PAC selection who led the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and the league in assists (4.4 apg) last year.

Geneva (10-16, 7-9) seeks its first winning record since the team became a full PAC member in 2011-12, but when Harris was pressured to select a team he thinks will surprise others this year he mentioned Geneva.

Grove City (9-17, 4-13) returns two starters as the Wolverines look to at least win more than 11 games – or seven PAC games – something they haven’t done since last winning the PAC title in 2010.

Westminster (7-20, 3-13) hasn’t won more than three PAC games in a season for fourth-year head coach Kevin Siroki, but this could be a breakout year with five returning starters.

Washington & Jefferson (2-24, 1-5) hasn’t won a PAC title in 20 years, but the Presidents are starting fresh this year with new coach Ethan Stewart-Smith, a former Carnegie Mellon assistant.

Chatham (First Year), according to Garcia, will have its rough patches in its first season of men’s basketball, but he said the goal is to “grow and develop all year” and not “put a number of wins or losses on it.”

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Remember Him? Former Bethany Coach Andrew Sachs Off To Great Start At Salisbury

MBK_Sachs_namedFollowing a  successful six-year tenure as the men’s basketball coach at Bethany College, Andrew Sachs is now the head man at his alma mater, Salisbury University. Sachs led the Bison to 117 victories, two PAC championships and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Sachs was named the new head coach at Salisbury in June and is already racking up the wins with the Sea Gulls this season.

When the PAC Sports Network began broadcasting the PAC Basketball Game of the Week during the 2011-12 season, the Bison were in the process of capturing their second straight conference title and we followed the league champs to St. Mary’s City, Maryland for their NCAA tournament game against St. Mary’s College of Maryland. During our travels across the conference interviewing players and coaches, you could always expect an honest and candid interview with Coach Sachs.

As the head coach at Salisbury University, Sachs has continued his success as the Sea Gulls are off to a 4-0 start which includes a pair of wins at the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic last weekend against Southern Vermont and DeSales. Hoopsville’s Dave McHugh sat down with coach Andrew Sachs following the Sea Gulls 60-59 victory over Southern Vermont. You can see what Coach Sachs is up to now by watching the video below.

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Women’s Basketball Preview: Reigning National Champs Are Favorites To Repeat In PAC

By Justin Zackal

Thomas More finally reached the summit last year. After achieving four Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament, relatively early exits in 2012 and 2013 and an Elite Eight in 2014, the Saints won a national championship in 2015.

TMC Women National Champs

Thomas More won the 2014-15 National Championship.

But to the Saints, this is not the peak of the mountain but rather a foundation to build on.

They are still climbing.

“Winning the title has changed the confidence because you get close like we’ve had in the past,” said fifth-year head coach Jeff Hans, who mentioned the team’s tournament track record before getting “over the hump” with its deep run in 2014. “The confidence is there that, yes, it can be done and we’re going to do what we need to do to achieve that again. We’re just trying to build on it.”

All 13 underclassmen on last year’s roster returned this year, including four starters, but a freshman will likely fill the vacated spot in the lineup.

“We’re deeper,” Hans said, who estimates a rotation of anywhere from 10-12 players seeing minutes. “There won’t be a lot of drop off when we want to sub.”

PAC PREDICTION
There will not be a lot of drop off from Thomas More and the rest of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. The Saints haven’t lost a league game the last three years and they dropped only three PAC games in the last eight seasons (145-3).  They are easily the favorite to win their 10th straight PAC championship in 2015-16.

PAC DESCRIPTION
“This league would be characterized as probably more blue collar,” Hans said. “It’s a lot of hard-working players and coaches who understand the game. It’s getting better. The level of players, the skill, the athleticism continue to grow.”

THREE SENIOR STARS
Sydney Moss, Senior, G, Thomas More – The Division I transfer who played at the University of Florida as a freshman has won the Division III National Player of the Year the last two years. Moss led the nation in scoring in both of her years at Thomas More with 27.8 and 24.2 points per game, respectively.

Kathryn Erbelding, Senior, F, Grove City – The PAC Defensive Player of the Year last year averaged 15.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and a league-high 3.4 steals per game. “She’s a tough-nosed player,” Hans said. “You won’t get a lot of freebies with her.”

Jaclyn Watkins, Senior, F, Thiel – Another six-footer, Watkins is a strong post player who ranked third in the PAC in scoring (17.6 ppg) and fourth in rebounds (8.3 rpg).

TWO RISING STARS
Abby Owings, Sophomore, G, Thomas More – Named first-team all-PAC as a freshman last year, Owings ranked second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg). She was a player who’s gotten a lot better and gained more confidence since last year, according to Hans.

Kelsea Daugherty, Sophomore, F, Bethany – The reigning PAC Freshman of the Year averaged 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and registered a league-high 11 double-doubles.

ONE-LINERS FOR EACH TEAM

Thomas More (33-0, 18-0 PAC in 2014-15) will run opponents ragged with its depth, which also includes sophomore F Nikki Kiernan, who despite coming off the bench last year was the team’s third-leading scorer with 10.9 ppg.

Saint Vincent (22-5, 15-3 PAC) loses Taylor Mathers and her 18.5 scoring average, but the PAC runners-up have a nice group of young guards returning, led by junior Mara Benvenuti (9.1 ppg), who, according to head coach Jimmy Petruska, is a rare all-conference player who is more regarded for her unselfish play.

Washington & Jefferson (21-8, 13-5) deserved better than a third-place finish after winning 21 games last year, but if the Presidents finish higher this year it be on the shoulders of senior G/F Beka Bellhy, a first-team all-PAC selection who averaged 16.4 points per game a year ago.

Waynesburg (15-12, 12-6) lost its all-PAC back court, but the Yellow Jackets are still deep at the guard position, led by senior PG Lauren Blair, who ranked second in the league last year with 4.2 assists per game.

Grove City (14-12, 10-8) will continue to improve under third-year head coach Chelle Fuss after posting its first winning PAC record since 2010 and tying the 2011 team for the most overall wins since 2005.

Bethany (12-14, 8-10) will likely emerge into a winning team this year with all five starters returning and six of the top scorers back.

Westminster (7-20, 5-13) also returns all five starters from last year, but the Titans have more ground to cover with a young team last year that scored a PAC-low 55.3 points per game.

Thiel (5-21, 4-14) is yet another team that returns all five starters, three of which are seniors, which will be relied on to improve a defense that gave up the most points per game in the PAC (76.1) in its second straight 5-21 season.

Chatham (6-19, 3-15) won as many games last year as it did the previous two seasons, but the Cougars would like to at least get back to winning five PAC games and 10 overall like they last did in 2011.

Geneva (4-21, 2-16) returns senior G Heidi Mann, an all-PAC honorable mention last year, but the Golden Tornadoes haven’t won more than three PAC games (or four games overall) in a season since becoming full PAC member in 2011-12.

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Men’s Basketball History Made at Chatham University

History was made on Tuesday night at Chatham University in Pittsburgh as the first men’s basketball team in school history took the court for the 2015-16 season opener. PSU-New Kensington trailed 31-24 at the half to Chatham, but the Lions rallied back for a 70-64 win over the Cougars. The PAC Sports Network was on hand for this memorable event and talked with Chatham head coach Andrew Garcia. Click below to watch our highlight package of the first regular season men’s basketball game in Chatham University history.

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PAC Men’s Soccer Championship Preview: Westminster vs. Geneva

By Justin Zackal

There will be a new men’s soccer champion in the PAC this year for the first time in six years. And you can thank the last school other than Thomas More to win the conference for breaking up the Saints’ march of six straight PAC titles.

Westminster won the PAC crown in 2008 and since then the Titans qualified for the conference tournament twice, losing both times in the semifinals, 4-0, to Washington & Jefferson in 2009 and Thomas More in 2012.

However, matching the last six years of Westminster’s playoff futility with Thomas More’s six-year run of success meant nothing on Wednesday. Fourth-seeded Westminster (11-5-3) upset top-seeded Thomas More (16-2-1) in the semifinals with a dramatic, last-minute goal to win 2-1 and advance to the championship game.

Well, if anything it means Westminster now has the confidence that it can beat anyone, including Thomas More, the No. 2-ranked team in the country. The Titans play at second-seeded Geneva (12-4-3) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Reeves Field in Beaver Falls, Pa.

Here are three reasons why each team will win:

WHY WESTMINSTER WILL WINWestminster Soccer

  1. Momentum is propelling the Titans to finish strong. The excitement from sophomore Zack Walters’ game-winning goal over Thomas More, just three minutes after the Saints tied game, will provide Westminster an emotional rush. In addition, the Titans are riding a four-game win streak that followed a three-game losing skid.
  2. Experience. Westminster’s most productive players are seniors. That includes midfielder Matthew Kiernan, who ranks sixth in the PAC with 11 goals; forward Marcus Gargiolo, who is tied for third in the league with seven assists; and goalkeeper Tyler Little, whose .820 save percentage and five shutouts are a PAC-best.
  3. The Titans don’t have to rely on their most productive players either. Anyone is capable of stepping up in their system. Senior Eric Michalski scored his first career goal in the win over Thomas More and 17 different Titans have booted goals this year, including 11 players with one goal apiece.

 

WHY GENEVA WILL WINGeneva Soccer

  1. Yes, Westminster has more seniors (11 to Geneva’s five). And, yes, the Golden Tornadoes are led by sophomore scorers (Abel Carleton’s eight goals and Josh Brenize’s seven assists) and a freshman goalkeeper (Luke Nolan). However, Geneva has PAC tournament experience. The GTs have qualified for the PAC tournament in each of the last four years. Westminster’s success is new, perhaps surprising. Geneva expected to be here.
  2. Geneva playing at home will be an advantage. The GTs are 8-1 at home this year, best in the PAC. Geneva and Westminster tied, 1-1, in their regular-season meeting, with Carleton scoring in the 25th minute and Kiernan in the 87th, but that was in New Wilmington. Geneva also outshot Westminster, 20-11.
  3. Geneva is happy to play Westminster, and not Thomas More. The Saints ended the GTs run in the PAC tournament in each of those last four tournament appearances, including the finals in 2011 and 2012. Also, Geneva hasn’t lost to Westminster in their last seven meetings, going 5-0-2 since Westminster last won in 2008.
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