2003-04 MEN'S BASKETBALL
PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
 


PENN STATE-BEHREND PICKED TO
WIN AMCC MEN'S BASKETBALL TITLE
 


In their preseason poll, the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference men's basketball coaches have chosen Penn State Behrend to win the league championship this season.

After finishing first in the regular season standings, the Behrend Lions were upset by Pitt-Bradford at the AMCC tournament.  Behrend still earned a trip to the ECAC tournament, while Pitt-Bradford went on to the NCAA Div. III tournament.  The Panthers were picked to finish third this season, with Pitt-Greensburg voted to the #2 spot.

Penn State Behrend senior center James Curren (Warren HS/Warren, PA) was the coaches' selection as Preseason Player of the Year.  Curren was the AMCC Player of the Year in 2002-03.  He led the league in field goal percentage (57.7%) and was third in scoring (17.7 ppg). 
                            

AMCC
MEN'S BASKETBALL POLL
Preseason Rankings:
1. Penn State Behrend
2. Pitt-Greensburg
3. Pitt-Bradford
Preseason Player of the Year:
James Curren, Penn State Behrend

 

 


                            Team Previews/Players to Watch

FROSTBURG STATE
Frostburg State looks to return to the top tier of the AMCC after posting disappointing 10-16 overall and 5-7 records in 2002-03. The Bobcats and fifth-year head coach Webb Hatch will have to overcome the loss of Pierre Bowery, the schoolís all-time leading shot blocker (192) and second leading scorer (1,809 points), and welcome back two starters in senior guard Ryan Grabill (Williamsport/Boonsboro, MD) who averaged 7.3 ppg and 4.3 apg and senior forward Myro Small (Stephen Decatur/ Berlin, MD) with 7.0 ppg and 2.9 rpg last season.

 

Junior guard Chris Vaughn (5.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 29 3FG) and much-improved sophomore forward Dan Ryley (1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg) are among the key returners, while Waynesburg transfer David Quay and junior college transfer Paul Owens should give the Bobcats some needed muscle inside.

LA ROCHE
The Redhawks men's basketball team enters the 2003-04 season with high hopes.
After a second place regular season finish a year ago, the Redhawks are determined to continue their climb toward the top of the AMCC.  Head coach Scott Lang, entering his seventh season, will have a very experienced group after having 10 freshmen on the roster a year ago.

Senior point guard Cliff Foster (Knoch/Sarver, PA) is the catalyst.  Foster, a four-year starter, has led the AMCC in assists for three consecutive years and led the conference in steals last season.  He, along with returnees junior Demetris Pringle (Sto Rox/Pittsburgh, PA) and sophomore Anthony Ovial (Ellwood City/Ellwood City, PA) will give the Redhawks great leadership and experience at both guard positions.  Pringle is an explosive scorer and vastly improved defender.

LAKE ERIE
With five seniors returning, including first-team All-AMCC selection Tony Tibayan (Harvey HS/Painesville, OH) and third-team honoree Michael Rustifo (Massillion Perry HS/Canton, OH), the Lake Erie College menís basketball team boasts high hopes for the 2003-2004 campaign.  The Stormís veteran leadership has the potential to guide Lake Erie to the top of the conference standings.  This yearís squad will look to improve on a fourth place regular season AMCC finish and semi-final appearance in the conference tournament. 

In addition to Tibayan and Rustifo, seniors Dan Crawford, Aaron Johnson and Josh Smith will complement a wealth of young talent that includes junior Nate Malensek, seven freshmen and a junior college transfer.  Headed by Jim Dolan, who is in his fourth season, this Lake Erie teamís potential has the entire campus ready for the final hoops campaign in Lincoln Gymnasium.

PENN STATE ALTOONA
A winning season.
That's the goal for the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team led by second year head coach Arman Gilliam. Although the team is coming off a two-win season a year ago, including a major upset of the second seeded team in the AMCC tournament, the experience will prove vital as the squad has a solid group of returning players as well as some incoming freshman playing at Ivy Side.

Senior center Brandon Battles (Cornell HS/Coraopolis, PA) will be leading the way for the Lions. Battles, a member of last season's all-conference second team, is the team captain and, according to his coach, the team leader and "go-to" guy who averaged 16.4 ppg and 8.4 rpg in 2002-03.  Gilliam also looks for freshman Tyler Franklin of Altoona to make a big impact in his first season with the team. Franklin has already played his way into a starting gaurd position.  The Lions will be without Rasheed Bey, a 6-5 junior who broke his leg in a pre-season scrimmage against Clarion University.

PENN STATE BEHREND

Last year the Behrend Lions team won the AMCC regular-season championship, finished as the runners-up in the conference tournament, and made it to the postseason for the sixth time in seven years with only one senior.  This year coach Dave Niland's team reloads with four talented seniors. With this kind of experience in place the team expects to better last year's 20-9 record.  The seniors have guided the program to a 52-30 mark, three consecutive AMCC conference tournament appearances, and two ECAC appearances in three years.

This year's senior captains are James Curren (Warren/Warren, PA), David Hairston (Cathedral Prep/Erie, PA), Casey Ponsoll (General McLane/Edinboro, PA), and Mike Schodt (McDowell/Erie, PA).  Curren, a 6'6 starting center, returns after being named the AMCC Player of the Year last season after averaging a team-high 17.7 ppg and working for 6.6 rpg.  He will continue to break school records this season, including the all-time scoring record of 1,466.  Curren has accumulated 1,296 career points and is currently third on the books. Hairston, a second-team all-AMCC forward, and Ponsoll will look to surpass the 1,000 point plateau this season.  They enter the season in the top-twenty for career points scored with 775 and 757 respectively. Hairston is a nightly double-double candidate and also enters the season with 435 career rebounds (18th all-time), while Ponsoll is a 40 % shooter from behind the arc and is seventh all-time for three-pointers made with 117.

PITT-BRADFORD
For the second straight year the Panthers captured the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division IIITournament. At 22-7, it was the programís ninth straight 16-plus win season under 11-year head coach Andy Moore (175-97).

This campaign Moore must find replacements for Matt Beacom and Doug Schneider, who played big roles in the aforementioned three-year success. Beacom finished second in career scoring (2,075 points) and rebounding (1,031) at Pitt-Bradford, while Schneider is the schoolís all-time leader in three-point field goal accuracy (.454 %) and was the Division III national leader (54.5%) in the same category as a junior.

The Panthers return 11 players with experience.  The seniors include guard Chris Wuest (Spencerport/Spencerport, NY), forward Matt Rowles (Clearfield/Clearfield, PA), guard Steven Douglass (Baldwin/Pittsburgh, PA), guard Erik Siuta (Pavillion/ Wyoming, NY) and center Bill Torrey (Portville/Portville, NY).  The juniors will be led by guard Aaron Kiffer (Olean/Olean, NY), along with guard Jeff McMahon (Portville/Portville, NY) and guard Brian Hobbs (Otto-Eldred/Eldred, PA).  The sophomores include guard Tim Gustin (Oswayo Valley/Shinglehouse, PA), forward Sean DePue (Wellsville/Wellsville, NY) and forward Louis Benton (Performing Arts/Buffalo, NY).

PITT-GREENSBURG
The 2003-04 University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg men's basketball team will
look to build on the exciting foundation they established in 2002-03 under first-year head coach Marcus Kahn. Despite losing their final five games of the season, UPG finished 14-12 overall, their first winning season since 1999-2000. The Bobcats jumped out to a 7-3 start and spent a large part of the season among the leaders in scoring offense in NCAA Division III, finishing as the leader in the AMCC at 79.4 ppg.

The Bobcats return nine letter winners and four starters from a season ago. Helping supply the foundation will be five seniors including a trio of key performers from a season ago. Guard/forward Scott Winfrey (Uniontown/Uniontown, PA) returns for his fourth
season in the Bobcat lineup. An Honorable Mention All-AMCC performer in
2000-2001, Winfrey averaged 4.6 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 21 games a year ago. Guards Jerry McMeekin (Schenley HS/CCAC-Allegheny/Pittsburgh, PA) and Isaiah Blanciak (Kiski Area HS/Thiel/Vandergrift, PA) return after debuting for the
Bobcats a season ago. Blanciak, who spent his first two seasons at Thiel College, was an offensive spark for UPG, averaging 11.5 ppg and making 33 three-point field goals. McMeekin, who spent two seasons at CCAC-Allegheny before coming to UPG, had a similar impact, adding 6.5 ppg and finishing 9th in the AMCC with a 35.8% three-point field goal percentage.

A group of four juniors will supply the strength of the rising program, led by 2003 First Team All-AMCC selection, Kevin Conlon (Bellwood-Antis/Altoona, PA). Conlon led the Bobcats in scoring (13.4 PPG), Assists (87), and three-point field goals (34). He also averaged 4.7 rpg and added 40 steals.  Another key contributor is guard Ryan Moye (Washington/Washington, PA). Moye, the 2001-2002 AMCC Newcomer of the Year, averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 2002-03. Also in the mix are guard John Pulley (South Western/Hanover, PA) and guard/forward Nate Watkins (Schenley/Pittsburgh, PA). Pulley averaged 7.0 points per game, while dishing out 56 assists and grabbing 33 steals. Watkins averaged 7.0 points per game, while totaling 39 steals and leading the team with 5.1 rebounds per game.