The Penn State Mont Alto men’s basketball program had a sour taste in its mouth with how the team finished the 2018-19 season. The program returned to the PSUAC playoffs as well as the USCAA National Tournament, but was unsuccessful in bringing home a championship. The team finished the season with a 20-9 overall record. Their 16-3 mark in the conference was best in the PSUAC West.
Championship expectations remain, but the squad will look quite different with 10 newcomers on the 2019-20 roster.
The 2019-20 Team
With the loss of four seniors with significant court time, this year’s freshman class is expected to step up. There are four returners on the roster including guard Marcus Roper (Charles Town, W. Va. / Jefferson) and junior guard Quintyn Flemister (Harrisburg, Pa. / Harrisburg), the PSUAC West Defensive Player of the Year a season ago.
Both guards stepped into leadership roles with the graduation of former point guard Terrell Campbell who owns the program record for most assists.
“Through our preseason I’ve been extremely encouraged with the talent that we have brought into the program,” said ninth year head coach Jack Schenzel. “The freshman class has excelled and gelled both on the court and in the classroom. While we may lack experience, I still feel we can compete at the highest level within the conference and on the national stage.”
“The returners have realized that this is their team now,” Schenzel said. Both Quintyn and Marcus have taken ownership in leading the squad. They have pushed the younger guys through the workouts. JR Powe (Frederick, Md / Thomas Johnson) has demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities as a freshman.
Both Powe and Darrius Bush (Martinsburg, W.Va. / Spring Mills) will fill big roles in the starting lineup. They will both add an offensive punch while being tenacious on the defensive end of the floor.
Those newcomers along with Cameron Williams (Inwood, W.Va. / Musselman), Nathan Osei (Frederick, Md. / Frederick), Nevaes Gordon (Frederick, Md / Thomas Johnson), Derron Snider (Brandywine, Md. / Oxon Hill) and Anthony Davis (Frederick, Md. / Tuscarora) will play significant roles at different points this season. These younger guys have adjusted to the collegiate game and bring high energy on both sides of the court.
Season Game Plan
The overall game plan this season remains the same with the Nittany Lions looking to feature a high energy defense, while utilizing transition basketball to the best of their abilities.
“When things are going well this season, you will see a group that plays stingy defense and on the offensive side of the floor we want really good passing and movement,” said Schenzel. “Additionally, we’re looking to get the best shot available on each possession.”
Down low returning sophomore John Teague (Hagerstown, Md. / North Hagerstown) is expected to do big things and improve his overall output from a season ago when he averaged 8.8 points per game and grabbed 5.5 rebounds. He worked extremely hard to improve his conditioning during the offseason.
Season Tips off Saturday
The Penn State Mont Alto men’s basketball season tips off Friday when they host the 8th Annual John E. Benchoff Tournament. The Nittany Lions will host Williamson College of the Trades at 8 p.m. Friday and Johnson and Wales (Charlotte) Saturday with a 3 p.m. start.
FRANK MAIRA is Assistant Director of Athletics/SID at Penn State Mont Alto