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

By Justin Zackal


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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.”