Gateway graduate Kromka 'having a blast' in final season at Saint Vincent
There he was again last Wednesday night, right in the middle of everything.
If Saint Vincent needs a big effort in men’s basketball, there’s a number of reliable options to consider.
Tom Kromka is one of them.
Kromka, one in a long line of basketball-playing siblings who attended Gateway, has been as dependable a player as Saint Vincent coach D.P. Harris has known.
“He leads by example,” said Harris, whose Bearcats defeated Thiel, 70-60, in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game to improve their overall record to 8-1.
Saint Vincent, the preseason pick to win the PAC regular season, will step out of conference play again with a trip to the York College Invitational in Jamaica, N.Y., on Friday and Saturday.
Kromka, a fifth-year senior in his third season at Division III Saint Vincent, put up yet another workman-like showing with seven points on 3 of 5 shooting, seven rebounds and six blocks in 27 minutes before fouling out.
Using his trademark bruising style of play, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Kromka, who began his college career at Carnegie Mellon but transferred out after his freshman season, leads Saint Vincent in field-goal percentage (57.1), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (17) and is the team’s second-leading scorer (15.4).
A year ago, Kromka, a preseason all-PAC first-team selection, led Saint Vincent in scoring (11.3), rebounding (7.1), field goals (115), blocks (48) and minutes played (28.2).
“He is the first guy we’ve ever had to be our captain while walking through the door,” said Harris, whose career record is 304-122 in 16 seasons, all at Saint Vincent. “He’s been our captain from Day 1. That’s unheard of from a transfer.”
It is well documented that Kromka, who left CMU and spent a season at the Community College of Allegheny County re-evaluating his academic goals before settling on Saint Vincent, comes from a large family, including eight kids.
Most have been basketball players at one time, starting with Joe Kromka, the children’s dad, who helped Ford City in 1979 to runners-up medals in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.
What’s more, Kromka’s uncle, Jim Kunst, a Kittanning graduate, went on to play at Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“We debate about who’s the best in the Kromka family,” Tom Kromka said. “I try to make a case for myself, but I understand there are others who’ve gone on to a higher level. It’s OK.
“I’m having a blast out here (at Saint Vincent). Any chance I get to play basketball is going to be fun for me.”
Older brother Mike attended Clarion and younger brother John Paul is a freshman forward at Pitt-Johnstown, where he was leading the 5-3 Mountain Cats in rebounding (8.0) and blocks (20), was tied for the lead in steals (10) and was second in scoring (12.5) and assists (25) entering the weekend.
Both are Division II programs in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
The rest of the Kromka clan have made their mark on the hardwood, as well. Joe Kromka, like Tom, went to CMU, and Jim and Kate also played at Gateway.
Will is a freshman on the high school boys team, and Mary is a senior on the girls team that last season won a WPIAL Class 5A championship
This year is Tom Kromka’s last hurrah before he gets serious about his life’s work. He’s an economics major at Saint Vincent with hopes of going to graduate school.
“He’s the perfect student-athlete, and it comes from his family roots,” Harris said. “He comes from a large Catholic family and fell right into the fabric of Saint Vincent College.”
Kromka is bidding to become a three-time all-conference player and is flirting with reaching 1,000 career points.
“The last thing for Tom is to play in the national (NCAA Division III) tournament,” Harris said. “It looks like we may have an opportunity to do that.”
Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.