Point Park men's basketball tips off 2014-15 season Nov. 6 at OCU Tournament
Nov. 6, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Point Park Men's Basketball 2014-15 -- Front Row (L to R): Miles Bennet, Terence Halls, Corey Henning, Art Christian, Jerah'me Williams, Yandell Denis, Alek Schaffer and Cameron Harbaugh. Back Row (L to R): Assistant Coach Gabe Bubon, Brandon Camic, Matthew Noszka, T.J. Lanier, Head Coach Bob Rager, Alan Heter, Barry Smith, Sa'iid Allen and Athletic Trainer Kristin Baker. Photo by Chris Squier.
PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University men's basketball team tips off its season Nov. 6 at the Ohio Christian Tournament. The Pioneers return two starters from last year's team that was 11-17 overall and 6-11 KIAC.
Head coach Bob Rager is in his 26th year at the helm, and his Pioneers have been picked third of five teams in the KIAC North Division in the KIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll released Oct. 22.
The Pioneers will once again deploy Rager's up-tempo style of play that is focused on maximizing possession of the basketball and puts a premium on a high scoring average on the part of Point Park.
Although Point Park must replace three double-digit scorers lost to graduation, Rager feels that he has the personnel to fill in with four returning lettermen being joined by a group of transfers coming from the NCAA Division I, NAIA and junior college levels who will join the mix right away.
"Personnel-wise, I am really happy with this team because it will allow me as a coach to create mismatches," said Rager. "We have a lot of length and athleticism, and there will be times we will have five guys on the floor 6-4 or taller who can all handle the ball."
Essential to being able to play the style that Point Park has come to be known by is having the players who willing and able to adpot the fast-paced offense. And even with five of the top eight players in his rotation as newcomers, Rager likes what he sees out of his team so far.
"This team has bought into our style of play, and they are willing to work hard to be the best they can be. That's all I ask of my players," said Rager. "We are going to run -- it's guilt-free basketball. If you want to watch exciting basketball, that's us. We want to get it out and go. There will be times that guys will make mistakes, but we have to be willing to live with that with our style. It's our style, and want to make the opponent adjust to us. With this year's team, we are going to be able to do a lot of different things because just about every one of our guys is tall and athletic with the ability to get up and down and score."
Returning as starters are 6-3 junior guard/forward Matthew Noszka from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Chartiers Valley High School, and 6-7 senior forward Alan Heter from McKees Rocks, Pa., and Montour High School by way of Edinboro University.
Noszka, a two-year starter, averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year and is the top returning scorer and rebounder. He also knocked down 54 3-point field goals. Heter is in his second year at Point Park after transferring from Edinboro, and he averaged 11.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 53 percent field goals.
Other returning lettermen for the Pioneers are T.J. Lanier, a 6-6 guard/forward from Youngstown, Ohio, and Brandon Camic, a 6-3 guard from McKeesport, Pa., and Serra Catholic High School. Lanier averaged 8.1 points per game last year when he was limited to 11 games due to injury. Camic averaged 3.1 points per game in 16 games.
There are several newcomers for the Pioneers this year who will join the main rotation right away. Yandell Denis, a 6-4 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., is in his second year at Point Park but is in his first year as an active player following his transfer from Erie (N.Y.) Community College. Denis averaged double digits in two years at Erie CC and is slated to be the Pioneers' point guard as a very athletic player who can get end to end in Point Park's fast-paced style.
Barry Smith is a 6-6, senior guard/forward from Penn Hills, Pa., and a transfer from NCAA Divsion I Bethune-Cookman (Fla.). He starred a Penn Hills High School and then at The Kiski School, where he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds, before signing out of high school with The Citadel, an NCAA Division I school in South Carolina. Smith is an athletic wing player who can play inside and out and who Rager describes as one of the best jumpers he's ever coached.
Sa'iid Allen is a 6-3, guard from Baton Rogue, La., who is a newcomer this year after being a walk-on at NCAA Divsion I Southern University. He comes to Point Park with four years eligibility and was an all-district performer who averaged 18.0 points per game at Glen Oaks High School in Louisiana. He is a wing scorer who has challenged for a starting spot in the preseason given his long-range shooting ability.
Jerah'me Williams is a 5-9, junior, point guard from Youngstown, Ohio, and a transfer from NAIA Lourdes (Ohio) University. Williams was a three-time, All-Ohio selection at Campbell Memorial High School. He is a very strong ball handler with tremendous quickness who will see a lot of minutes in the Pioneers' backcourt.
Art Christian is a 6-2, sophomore guard/forward from Cleveland, Ohio, and another trasnfer from NAIA Lourdes (Ohio) University. Christian was an All-Ohio selection at Richmond Heights High School, where he averaged 17.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Christian adds depth to the Pioneers' wing with a good shooting touch from the outside and can also play forward if needed.
The Pioneers have also added freshmen Jerrad Tuite (G, Chartiers Valley HS), Cameron Harbaugh (G, Montour HS), Miles Bennet (G, Carlynton HS) and Alek Schaffer (G, Kittanning HS). They join returner Corey Henning, a senior guard from Brentwood, Pa., in providing depth in the backcourt.
Defensively, a long and athletic Point Park lineup should be cause for an improved defense. The Pioneers have 6-7 Alan Heter, 6-6 T.J. Lanier, 6-6 Barry Smith and their top returning rebounder in 6-3 Matthew Noszka along the back line. Point Park's guards possess good size with 6-4 Yandell Denis, 6-3 Sa'iid Allen and 6-2 Art Christian along with 5-9 Jerah'me Williams.
Download the Point Park Men's Basketball Quick Facts for preseason information at the link above. Check the Point Park athletics website for information on the Pioneers throughout the season.
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