Mon. May 16th, 2022

The PSAC conference playoffs will be missing a familiar face this season, as for the first time in 10 years the West Chester University Golden Rams have failed to qualify for the post-season. The Rams ended their season Saturday with a disheartening 90-81 loss to the Millersville Marauders, ending their season on a stretch which saw them play their way out of a playoff spot by losing seven of their past eight games. The Rams started their week by traveling to Washington, D.C in a rematch of the previous week’s out of conference match up with the University of the District of Columbia Firebirds. Despite seniors Donnell Butler, Aaron Williams and Shawn Werdt scoring 16 points apiece, the Rams dropped a 87-79 decision to UDC. The Rams could not find an answer for UDC’s tandem of Charlie Smallwood and Frank Petersen, who each contributed 20 points to lead the UDC effort. The Rams shot the ball well from the field, including a staggering 10-16 from three point land. Werdt was outstanding from distance as he hit four of his five three balls. The big difference in this game was that UDC was able to go to the line 33 times, and they converted on 19 of their attempts.

Wednesday night was Senior Night at Hollinger Field House as the Rams took on the Bloomsburg Huskies in a must-win game for WCU. Werdt led the way for the Rams with 21 points and five rebounds, one of his best all-around games of the year and Lenwood Greenwood owned the paint in scoring 15 points and adding 12 rebounds but it was not enough to compensate for BU’s Nick Jones’ 26 point effort as the Huskies topped WCU 75-69. Williams made sure he ended his WCU career with a bang as he actually bent the rim back with a ferocious dunk at 16:58, leading to a delay of nearly an hour. WCU appeared to still have the momentum as they took a 48-44 lead in the game, but the BU bench outscored WCU’s bench 37-6 to spur the Husky effort.

Saturday afternoon the Rams traveled to take on Millersville, a team regarded as not only the top team in the PSAC but one of the best teams in all of Division II Basketball. The #4 ranked team in the East Region, the Marauders, were out to avenge a loss to the Rams suffered a few weeks back when it appeared the Rams were making a surge for the playoffs. Werdt continued his outstanding week with another 20 point effort, and Greenwood continued his stellar play with yet another double-double as he scored 17 points and ripped down 10 rebounds, but the Rams yet again lost the battle of the bench players as Millersville’s reserves scored 48 points. MU’s star guard Charlie Parker scored 15 points and also chipped in eight assists.

The Rams finished the season with a very mediocre 13-14 record, including a 5-7 conference mark. The Rams lose seven seniors to graduation this year, including Williams, Butler, Werdt, point guard Justin Westmoreland, forward Anthony Geiger, forward Nathan Wingerd and forward Chad Becker. The Rams have a lot to look forward to next season however, as combo guard Kenneth St. George returns and should be a force to be reckoned with assuming he fully recovers from his shoulder injury. Lenwood Greenwood returns for his senior season, and there is no reason not to think he can not average about 15 points and 12 rebounds per game as he will almost certainly play a bigger role in the team’s offense.

There should be an interesting battle for the shooting guard void left by Werdt, as sweet-shooting freshman Joe Opalka and sophomore Anthony Haley. Perhaps the biggest void left by the graduating seniors is left patrolling the paint, with Williams and Butler, two of the team’s top 3 rebounders and the top two scorers, both graduate. Redshirt freshman Gerald Caldwell will probably get the inside track on the starting center position, and forward Sam Scott looks to get extended minutes at the small forward position. Kevin Stokes also returns to provide his customary scrappy defensive play and spell St. George at the point.

The Rams have the potential to be a very good team next year, yet they must rid themselves of the things that doomed them this year. Among these include inconsistent shooting from beyond the arc, very little bench scoring, not being able to overcome slow starts and they also occasionally struggled against teams that employed a full-court press. With a strong recruiting class, this young team has a chance to be great in ’08.

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