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SEASON PREVIEW: 2011-12 Point Park University Pioneers Men's Basketball

Oct. 27, 2011

VIDEO: Point Park head coach Bob Rager discusses the 2011-12 team in the video above.




PITTSBURGH -- The 2011-12 edition of the Point Park University men's basketball team must replace four double-digit scorers and two all-conference players from last year's team that was 15-12 and made the American Mideast Conference playoffs. But the Pioneers are not without capable players returning.

Point Park, under 23rd-year head coach Bob Rager, returns two starters and five of its top nine scorers from last year. Of those nine, the ones that graduated leave a big void. Gone are All-AMC forward Kris Douse (20.1 ppg, 12.6 rpg), All-AMC guard Jimmy Sherwood (17.8 ppg) as well as guards Joel Cashatt (11.7 ppg) and Josh Trocchio (11.7 ppg).

Despite the talent that graduated, the cupboard is not bare for the 2011-12 Pioneers by any means. They have talented point guard T.J. Heatherington back and healthy for his junior year as well as senior forward Dante Anglin, the other returning starter. Other key players returning are forwards Devon Alexander and Josh Pohlot as well as guard Robbie Heatherington. Also back is Jamar Washington, a senior guard who sat out last year.

Newcomers this year are guard Jimmy Taylor, a proven scorer and a transfer from CCAC-Allegheny, and guard Asa Braxton, a transfer from Seton Hill. Veterans Mike Carr and Dave Menzies add depth to the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively.

Point Park was among the highest-scoring teams in the country last year. The Pioneers averaged 87.8 points per game to rank fifth in the NAIA, and they have ranked in the top five nationally in four of the last six years playing coach Rager's fast-paced style.

The key for the Pioneers this year will be to find enough scoring from players who have not been relied on too much for offensive production. Only T.J. Heatherington averages in double figures among the returners.

T.J. Heatherington, a junior point guard from McKeesport, Pa., averaged 13.4 points and 4.4 assists per game last year before missing 12 of the last 13 games due to a season-ending knee injury Jan. 15, 2011. Heatherington is back and healthy this year, and he was an All-AMC second-team selection as a freshman.

Anglin, a forward from North Hills, Pa., teams with Alexander, a forward from McKeesport, Pa., as a couple of seniors in the low post. Anglin started every game last year and has been mostly a defensive and rebounding presence during his career. But he is a capable scorer and will need to have production there. Alexander has averaged 8.7 points per game during his career, and his 660 career points are most among active players.

Pohlot, a forward from Belle Vernon, Pa., and Robbie Heatherington, a guard from McKeesport, Pa., are sophomores who got experience as freshmen off the bench. Both are capable of taking on expanded roles in their second year of college basketball and challenge for the starting lineup.

Washington, from Pittsburgh,  is an senior swing player at 6-3, 220 pounds, and he is back after sitting out the 2010-11 season. He started nine of the alst 14 games in the 2009-10 season, his first year at Point Park after transferring from Mercyhurst Northeast.

Taylor, a product of Keystone Oaks High School, and a native of Pittsburgh, was an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American at CCAC-Allegheny last year. A shooting guard, Taylor averaged 13.9 points per game, shot 52 percent from the field and 45 percent from long range.

The other newcomer is Braxton, an athletic wing player who transferred from Seton Hill. Braxton is 6-2, 200 pounds and will give the Pioneers a strong rebounder and perimeter defender. The product of Hampton High School has the athleticism to fit in nicely with Rager's transition game.

Point Park begins the season Nov. 4-5 at the Daemen Tournament. The Pioneers open up with York Nov. 4 (3:30 p.m.) and Toronto Nov. 5 (2:30 p.m.).

The Pioneers were picked in the American Mideast Conference preseason coaches poll as the fourth-best team in the league. Walsh, an NCAA Division II provisional member which is not eligible for the conference playoffs, was picked as the AMC preseason favorite followed by Daemen, Roberts Wesleyan, Point Park, Wilberforce, Houghton and new AMC member Fisher.