by Diana Petrovich, Staff Writer
The Saint Vincent College men’s basketball team, already in week four of this year’s season, looks very different from last year’s squad. There are only five returning players who played on the 2009-2010 team, which went 6-19. New to this 2010-2011 campaign are six players—five incoming freshmen and one junior transfer—that hail from various regions of the nation and are bringing a wave of change to Bearcat basketball. And of all seasons, this one is the one to stand out—this season marks the end of the Bearcats’ provisional membership in the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) and begins the team’s eligibility for NCAA playoffs.
New contributors to the team are freshmen Michael Burroughs (Forward; Bridgeville, PA), Grant Latus (Forward; Pittsburgh, PA), Nic Martin (Guard; Hagerstown, MD), Dillon Stith (Forward; Bedford, VA), Issac Turner (Guard; Winter Park, FL), and junior transfer student Dennis Bassich (Guard; Silver Spring, MD). There are five returning players, making the total on number of players an intimate eleven—a count that has not hindered the Bearcats yet.
The Bearcats were ranked sixth in the PAC pre-season poll this year but are setting standards well above this ranking. They are 6-2 overall and 1-1 in the PAC, good enough to be tied for third place. It is still early in the season, but the team has already shown a lot of promise that the strong play and wins will continue as regular-season play progresses. Senior BJ McGill was named PAC Player of the Week for the first week of the season; he now averages 17.8 points/game, 4.7 defensive rebounds/ game, and 6.13 assists/game, good enough for third, fifth, and second in the category conference standings, respectively. Meanwhile, SVC newcomers are making their mark in the conference as well: Turner leads the PAC in the scoring category with an average 18.9 points per game; Latus leads in blocked shots with an average of 2.57 per game; Bassich is second in free throw percentage at .889 (Conference Standings as of December 5, 2010). This strong early-season play should be a confidence booster for the young team, as well as an exciting incentive for others to become (or remain) a SVC basketball fan.
“They’re doing way better this year than they were last year,” said long-time fan Michelle Stepien. Stepien, a senior at SVC, raved about how much fun the team is to watch, especially with so many new faces to see. “There’s a kid named Nic Martin who is a really good freshman point guard. Dennis Bassich, a transfer student who starts, is a great shooting guard. And then there’s BJ McGill, who is just tremendous. I think they’ll make playoffs, especially with help from Issac Turner. He’s a great ball-handler and is scoring tons of points.”
If you’re not a die-hard fan like Stepien, perhaps her optimistic opinions will convince you to become one. While the rest of the student body is at home \over the Christmas break, the Bearcat basketball team will continue on with their season. For them, the break entails very little of a break at all: their next game is at Penn State Fayette on Dec. 18. After that, the Bearcats will attend the Otterbein Tournament in Ohio on Dec. 28-29. They will then start off the New Year in Washington, PA against Washington and Jefferson College on Jan. 3, followed by hosting Geneva College on Jan. 6 and traveling to Bethany College on Jan. 8. The games at the Otterbein Tournament and those against W&J and Geneva will be broadcast on the SVC athletics website. By the time the rest of the student body returns to campus from Christmas vacation, the men’s basketball team will be more than halfway through with their season, hopefully with a promising record that will propel them into PAC playoffs for the first time ever in school history.