TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Coach has great expectations for Penn State Fayette basketball team

Jason Black | Daily Courier - Penn State Fayette men's basketball coach Mark John (left) talks with his team during a practice on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 at Penn State Fayette.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jason Black | Daily Courier</em></div>Penn State Fayette men's basketball coach Mark John (left) talks with his team during a practice on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 at Penn State Fayette.
Jason Black | Daily Courier - Penn State Fayette's Luke Williams puts up a shot during a practice on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 at Penn State Fayette.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jason Black | Daily Courier</em></div>Penn State Fayette's Luke Williams puts up a shot during a practice on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 at Penn State Fayette.

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Mark John is entering his fourth season as coach of the Penn State Fayette men's basketball team. John will be assisted by coaches Jajuan Davis and David Winns.

Under John, Penn State Fayette players have a 100 percent graduation rate.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
 

At first glance, it may appear that the Penn State Fayette men's basketball team has to start over.

The Roaring Lions are coming off a 2012-13 season in which they lost in the first round of the PSUAC Tournament, but won three straight games and advanced to the championship game of the USCAA National Tournament, where they lost to Warren-Wilson to end a 17-13 campaign. From that team, no starters are returning.

“That's a major thing for us,” Penn State Fayette coach Mark John said. “When you lose all five starters, you lose 90 percent of your offense and you lose leadership and go-to experience.”

Penn State Fayette lost James Pratt, David Winns, Brandon Cunningham, Ryan Hart, Will Gaines and Andrew Hoye. All were significant contributors to the team's success.

Despite those losses, it seems there's plenty of talent to go around at the small Fayette County school.

“The guys returning saw what those guys did and what it takes to be successful,” John said.

Junior guard Darius Mack and sophomore guard/forward Dierre Jenkins are holdovers from last year's club, and each saw significant playing time.

“Darius has worked hard over the summer to get stronger and he is emerging into one of the best defenders in the league,” John said. “Dierre has really stepped up in the form of leadership. He expects success, and he knows what it takes.”

Jenkins learned a lot from Pratt, but acknowledges that without last year's starters, things will be different.

“It changes the mindset,” Jenkins said. “We've had more experience, but now it's more of a team thing and we need each other. Everybody has their own role and everybody has to step up.”

While the Roaring Lions' situation obviously is different from last season, the goals have not been altered.

“We go out every day to win the conference title,” John said, who pointes out that he expects his team to be a contender in the USCAA again this season. “The guys that come in here want to be a part of that. We want to set our goals high, and achieve them.”

Sophomore guards C.J. Gaddis and Luke Williams and junior guard Derek Jones are expected to make a big impact on this year's team.

“Gaddis really studied how James (Pratt) ran our team and he understands the way we want to get things done,” John said. “Jones will play inside and he is one of the best shooters in the nation when he is on. Williams transferred in and he is getting used to what we are doing. His work ethic is unparalleled and I think he'll be a big part of what we do.”

Junior forward Jacob Bronder and freshmen guards Dominick Jackson and Sean Smoggie also figure to have an impact.

Penn State Fayette opens the season in the Greater Allegheny Tip-off Tournament Friday and Saturday at Penn State McKeesport.

Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read District

  1. College notes: Harbert honored by D-III coaches
  2. Slippery Rock’s McGraw wants to put program on solid ground
  3. No wrestling with college decision for South Allegheny’s Hitchens
  4. Former Plum star Cressler ready to contribute for Vanderbilt basketball program
  5. Chatham baseball prepares for debut season in 2016