WCCC basketball teams have high expectations

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County Community College basketball teams have produced their share of memories in six seasons of existence.

Their coaches want more.

“We need more talented kids coming out of Westmoreland County high schools,” WCCC men's coach Andrew Colosimo said. “It's there, but most times, a player wants that four-year experience. We're here as an option.”

Entering the week, the WCCC women's team was off to a 5-1 start, and the men's squad was 2-2. Both compete in Division III of the National Junior College Athletic Association but frequently load their early-season schedule with Division I and II teams.

As with any two-year junior college, WCCC players quite often look to transfer to four-year NCAA or NAIA schools.

“We've had some talented players,” WCCC women's coach Scott Hillen said. “This year, depth-wise, we probably have the most talented group in terms of skill. We've got a little more depth at the guard and forward positions than in other years.”

WCCC won 20 games in back-to-back seasons in 2009 and '10, when the Wolfpack were led by Jamie Henry, a 6-foot-1 forward who paced NJCAA Division III with 18.0 rebounds per game during her final season.

Henry transferred to NCAA Division I Cleveland State but left for personal reasons.

While the WCCC men's program most recently had produced several transfers to four-year schools (NCAA Division II California (Pa.) and NAIA Division II Point Park), the current Wolfpack team is led by guard Andy Carter, the Norwin High School product who transferred from NCAA Division III Washington & Jefferson and was leading NJCAA Division III in scoring (30.2 ppg.).

Colosimo said Carter decided to transfer closer to home at WCCC because NCAA Division III schools, such as W&J, do not offer athletic scholarships.

“He's a bright kid, but he was paying too much out of pocket,” Colosimo said. “We're trying to get him some help. He's an academic kid, and he'll probably finish this semester with a 4.0 (grade-point average).”

While NCAA Division II schools Slippery Rock and Wheeling Jesuit are keeping close tabs on Carter, Colosimo said, there's plenty of Division I attention for the 6-1 sophomore.

Boston University, Brown, Evansville, Radford, San Jose State and South Dakota have shown interest. Lehigh, Colosimo said, was willing to offer Carter a “preferred walk-on” status.

Every year, WCCC coaches scramble to assemble a roster. But both have been able to sustain success.

“We don't have big numbers on the roster,” Hillen said, referring to WCCC's nine-player women's team, “but we usually end up with a solid rotation of seven or eight players.”

Leading scorer Danielle Murphy, a Hempfield High School graduate, was expected to return to the lineup this week after being sidelined for three games with a sprained ankle.

“The players have been pushing each other in practice,” Hillen said. “The chemistry is there. They all get along on and off the floor. We just don't have big numbers because lot of girls who say they're going to play end up with work schedules that conflict too much. But we've managed to get good enough numbers every year.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dmackall@tribweb.com or 412-380-5617.

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