Men’s basketball ranked second in poll

Nate Bottiger, Staff Writer

As of Nov. 2, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s men’s basketball team is ranked second in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s preseason coaches poll.

Pitt-Johnstown ranked behind West Liberty (W.V.a.) University, who was also picked sixth in the Division II national polls. West Liberty University made it to the Division II semifinals in the national tournament last year and finished with a record of 33-1 last season.

The University of Charleston (W.Va.) was picked third in the conference, and trailed Pitt-Johnstown by only one point in the polls.

Last season, Pitt-Johnstown suffered a loss to the sixth-seeded Alderson-Broaddus College (Philippi, W.Va.) in the quarterfinals of the conference championships. They finished with a 18-11 overall record, and 14-8 in conference games.

Senior and 2010-2011 first-team all-conference selection Patrick Grubbs said the preseason ranking does not mean much, and that it will be hard work that decides Pitt-Johnstown’s conference position at the season’s end.

Grubbs said this year’s team is well-balanced between positions and experience, and looks strong at the guard position.

“We have a lot of returning players from last year and, with the addition of some freshmen and transfers, I think we can be very good this year.”

Grubbs said he is happy with the polls despite their lack of meaning, and that this year’s team looks solid on both ends of the court.

He said the team is going to try to repeat last year’s scoring efforts, and put more focus into defense during practice.

Pitt-Johnstown was nationally ranked second last season in offensive scoring, with 87.8 points per game.

Pitt-Johnstown was also ranked second in field-goal percentage and assists per game, seventh in three-point field goal percentage and 11th in three-point field goals per game.

Junior Nick Novak said the team will have to work hard, and that, so far this season, practices have been intense and focused.

“Practice has been really competitive this year, and we know we have a lot of expectations to live up to.”

Novak said the team is setting their sights on a first-place conference finish.

“We’re definitely capable of winning the conference. We just have to come to play every night.”