MONT ALTO, Pa. – The Penn State Mont Alto men's basketball program had a sour taste in their mouth with how the team finished the 2018-19 season. The program returned to the PSUAC playoffs as well as the USCAA National Tournament, but they were unsuccessful in bringing home a championship concluding the season with a 20-9 overall record and their 16-3 mark in the conference was best in the PSUAC West. Championship expectations remain, but the squad will look quite different with 10 newcomers on the 2019-20 roster.
"Through our preseason I've been extremely encouraged with the talent that we have brought into the program," remarked ninth year head coach Jack Schenzel. "The freshman class has excelled and gelled both on the court and in the classroom. While we may lack experience, I still feel we can compete at the highest level within the conference and on the national stage."
With the loss of four seniors that saw significant time on the court, this freshman class is expected to step up and fill those minutes. There are four returners on the roster including guard Marcus Roper (Charles Town, W. Va. / Jefferson) and junior guard Quintyn Flemister (Harrisburg, Pa. / Harrisburg) who was named the PSUAC West Defensive Player of the Year a season ago. Both guards have stepped up into leadership roles especially with the graduation of former point guard Terrell Campbell who owns the program record for most assists.
"The returners have realized that this is their team now and both Quintyn and Marcus have taken ownership in leading this squad. They were the ones really pushing the younger guys through the workouts and JR Powe (Frederick, Md / Thomas Johnson) has demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities as a freshman," added Schenzel.
Both JR Powe (Frederick, Md / Thomas Johnson) and Darrius Bush (Martinsburg, W.Va. / Spring Mills) will fill big roles within the starting lineup while adding both an offensive punch, while being tenacious on the defensive end of the floor. These newcomers along with Cameron Williams (Inwood, W.Va. / Musselman), Nathan Osei (Frederick, Md / Frederick), Nevaes Gordon (Frederick, Md / Thomas Johnson), Derron Snider (Brandywine, Md. / Oxon Hill) and Anthony Davis (Frederick, Md / Tuscarora) will play significant roles at different points this season. These younger guys have adjusted to the collegiate game and bring high energy on both sides of the court.
The overall game plan this season will remain relatively the same with the Nittany Lions looking to feature a high energy defense, while utilizing transition basketball to the best of their abilities.
"When things are going well this season, you will see a group that plays stingy defense and on the offensive side of the floor we want really good passing and movement." Additionally, we're looking to get the best shot available on each possession," said Schenzel.
Down low returning sophomore John Teague (Hagerstown, Md. / North Hagerstown) is expected to do big things and improve upon his overall output from a season ago. He averaged 8.8 points per game and grabbed 5.5 rebounds and has worked extremely hard to improve his conditioning during the offseason.
The Penn State Mont Alto men's basketball season tips off on Friday, November 8, when they host the 8th Annual John E. Benchoff Tournament. The Nittany Lions will host Williamson College of the Trades at 8 p.m. on Friday and Johnson and Wales (Charlotte) on Saturday with a 3 p.m. start.