Saturday’s 70-54 defeat at the hands of Kutztown at Hollinger Field House was not exactly how men’s basketball coach Dick Delaney drew up West Chester’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division opener.”We just got outplayed in every aspect of the game,” Delaney said. “They’re quicker then us, more experienced and we didn’t play well at all. We looked like a rookie team out there, which is disappointing after we’ve played 13 or 14 games, they just outclassed us in every aspect, coaches, players everything, even effort.”
Any casual observer of Saturday’s debacle at Hollinger would have a difficult time arguing against any of those points. At times this team looked dreadful from beyond the arc, miniscule on the inside and perhaps most damning, disinterested at about the midway point of the first half.
The opinion here is that this team cannot be judged by Saturday’s outcome, and moreover, the results of this season as a whole.
Last year’s disappointing last place finish not withstanding, WCU lost seven seniors and entered this season with six freshman on the roster, senior forward Lenwood Greenwood, Junior Sam Scott and sophomore guard Kenneth St. George being the only carry overs from 2006.
With so much youth on the roster, there’s no question that a basketball season will be a growing process. It is imperative that this season not be judged on wins and losses, but rather, whether there is visable improvement from night to night, week to week and month to month as the Golden Rams sojourn through a grueling conference schedule.
Kutztown used the speed and athleticism of Chester County natives Stephen Dennis and Dave Ben all game long, at times running the Golden Rams off the floor.
Dennis, who Delaney called “Easily the best player in our league,” ran up and down the floor with the grace of a gazelle, running the Golden Bear offense and contributing what seemed like much more then the 11 points and five assists that showed up on the final stat sheet. Ben chipped in 14 points and seven of KU’s 41 rebounds in the victory. All told, the Golden Bears had three players with double figure point totals and Andre Woodlin pulled a game high 10 rebounds.
When the dust settled West Chester was out rebounded by a margin of 41-31, lost the turnover battle 15-14, and shot a dismal 36 percent from the field.
Saturday’s loss was abysmal to sit through and undoubtedly will be worse to watch on film for the players in the coming days. But try for a second to clear this game from your mind, and understand what this team accomplished leading up to their division opener.
During crossover play against the western division, the Golden Rams emerged with a 5-2 record, highlighted by a stunning 64-59 upset of PSAC West powerhouse California on Dec. 19, 2007 at Hollinger Field House. Ralph Hegamin led all scorers with 17, and the sophomore captain, St. George, tallied the final and decisive six points of the game. WCU also went on the road to beat both Shippensburg and Lock Haven respectively.
Although it was not evident Saturday, there have been individual improvements. St. George has raised his average to 16.2 points per game, and contributed tenacity and on court leadership that cannot be measured by a stat sheet.
Sophomore Kehinde Roberts has been a pleasant surprise, contributing steady minutes night in and night out, while averaging 14.1 points per game and has the aura of an elderstatesman to his teammates.
These intangibles in the long run undoubtedly will translate to wins on the court, and perhaps battles for division championships in the future. However, in the short term this is a growing process for everyone involved.
This group still has the opportunity to make some noise in division play beginning this week with tilts at Cheyney and East Stroudsburg, respectively. Last year West Chester split with Cheyney, losing at home and downing the Wolves on the road.
There’s no question that this season will be filled with peaks and valleys for the Golden Rams, but with its young nucleus in place, and a little bit of patience along the way, fans at Hollinger Field House will undoubtedly be treated to exciting times both this year and future seasons further on up the road.
Matt Lombardo hosts a weekly sports talk radio show on 91.7 WCUR, Saturday’s from noon-2pm and is simulcast worldwide online at www.wcur.fm
He is a third-year student majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at ML606516@wcupa.edu