Future looks rosier for basketball


Ali Single

Men’s basketball head coach Bob Rukavina (middle) coaches the Mountain Cats in a playoff game against Gannon University March 4 at the Sports Center. Pitt-Johsntown won the game, 70-60.

Yang Chen, Sports Editor

Mountain Cats men’s basketball head coach Bob Rukavina was named conference coach of the year for 2018-19, during which his team had a home record of 13-1. 

It’s the best home record for the Mountain Cats since they joined the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2013.

“This award is for our boys, not only me, and it’s a great honor to recognize the hard work by the Mountain Cats.

“It’s a good season, and we have a very good young team at the same time. I put them together to have our record.

“We placed fourth and finished our season against Indiana (Pa.), but we lost to them by only eight points.

Rukavina said he felt uncomfortable with his heart in the last 10 minutes during the quarterfinal game against Indiana, but he decided to help the Mountain Cats finish the game.

“I knew that I needed to stand here with my boys.

“At the end of game, the emergency staff checked my blood pressure and said I was healthy.

“I took a whole week off after spring break for my health, but I’m so proud of my boys working to win the playoff game.”

The Mountain Cats had never won a quarterfinal game in the West Division.

“We have very good freshmen this year, and they have more experience. I want to move further next year.

“We have high expectations and want to win a quarterfinal game next year, and, hopefully, win the conference championship,” Rukavina said.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania head coach Joe Lombardi led the Indiana team to the conference championship.

“I can see the Pitt-Johnstown team is improving, especially the defense is better than before, and their offense is good,” Lombardi said.

“Coach Rukavina is one of the best college basketball coaches, and he leads a good team for the conference.

“There are so many good players on the Pitt-Johnstown team.

“Some them were named first team in the conference,” Lombardi said. 

Freshman point guard Fred Mulbah had the team highest number of assists for the team at 144 in his freshman year to help the Mountain Cats have potential scoring from any position.

“I knew Coach Rukavina drove every day for an hour to help our team practice and it’s so hard to do it.”

Mulbah said that he felt a little nervous in the fall season, but his teammates gave him recognition for his good performance.

“We knew that he (Rukavina) has heart problems, but he is always here to help us not only technically but mentally.

“We have an expectation for our team to win more,” Mulbah said.