Penn State Greater Allegheny teams tip off season with high hopes
A year after reaching the championship game of the Penn State University Athletic Conference Tournament, the Penn State Greater Allegheny women's basketball team was looking for an encore.
Perhaps a league title is in store.
“We're excited for the things coming and we hope people take us for granted,” said PSUGA coach Lou Zadecky, who led the Nittany Lions to a 15-13 record in 2012-13 following a loss to Penn State Beaver in the conference tournament finale.
The process of starting another season renews Friday night when PSUGA opens its 2013-14 schedule at home against Madonna (Mich.).
“One of the big things the past two years was we were in this rebuilding process,” Zadecky said. “We had a couple of pieces and we were mixing and matching. By doing so, we seemed to be knocking at the door. But it kind of closed on us at some point each time.”
PSUGA also reached the tournament semifinals in 2011-12.
“We had a hard-working bunch that came together at the right time last year,” Zadecky said. “We've got a foundation for something special now.”
The Nittany Lions were selected to finish fourth among the league's 13 teams in a preseason poll of conference coaches.
Meanwhile, the PSUGA men's team, which will play its first game Nov. 8 against Southern State (Ohio) Community College in the first round of the PSUGA Tip-Off Tournament, was tied for 11th among 14 teams in the PSUAC preseason poll.
Coach Clyde Manns was continuing to search for a winning formula after the Nittany Lions stumbled to a 7-17 record last season, losing their final six games and 10 of the last 12.
“We've just got to recruit better players and get better guard play at this level,” Manns said. “We just turned the ball over too much last season.”
PSUGA averaged 24 turnovers per game during its season-ending losing streak.
The women's team will count on West Mifflin graduate Taylor Fulton, the PSUAC co-Player of the Year last season, to lead the way again. The senior point guard returns after leading the United States Collegiate Athletic Association in scoring last season with an average of 20.2 points per game.
“There's three things that I can think of about her — determination, hard work and heart,” Zadecky said. “She's got the biggest heart I've ever seen. She'll do anything for her teammates, her coaches, her school and her community. She's a great kid.”
Among the returnees for the men's squad are leading scorer Petrie Addison, a junior guard/forward who averaged 17.5 points per game a year ago; senior forward Nick Dizon, a Woodland Hills product who averaged 13.0 points; and senior forward Aaron Byrd, a PSUAC honorable mention who averaged 11.5 points.
“We'll rely heavily on Aaron this season,” Manns said. “I'm hoping his leadership and experience will rub off on the younger players and he'll contribute in large part to our winning games this season.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.