Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

Although the Golden Rams did not achieve their lofty championship goals this year, this season was far from a failure. This season, the Rams won their first NCAA tournament game and put together an impressive 17-5 record in PSAC play. The team was also dominant at home, winning 13 of their 15 games at Hollinger Field House.

Statistically, WCU was the fourth best offense in the PSAC, averaging 85 points per contest while holding their opponents to just 75 points a game. Their +10 margin was second in the conference, only behind PSAC champ East Stroudsburg.

Tyrell Long led the team in scoring, rebounding, free throws made and minutes. He averaged 19 points, seven boards and three assists in an impressive senior campaign.

Jackson Hyland had a good season as well, scoring 16.4 points per game while shooting a solid 33 percent from deep and leading the team with 40 steals.

Frank Rokins was also very solid, averaging 11 points per contest while leading the team in blocks.

The freshman trio of Evan-Eric Longino, Terrence Moore and Jawan Collins provided valuable minutes when their numbers were called, a good sign for the team’s future.

Of all the players mentioned, Long is the only one who will not be returning, as he will most likely pursue a professional basketball career overseas after graduation.

Matt Penecale and Jackson Hyland will each have to take on a larger role next year to ensure the team’s success. This is a team that is hungry after achieving a small amount of success in the NCAA tourney. There’s no doubt they’re dying to make an even deeper run next year.

As shown in their PSAC tourney loss to Ship, the Rams are in need of a post presence offensively. When teams ran zone and the threes weren’t falling, WCU didn’t have a true big man to feed in the post for offense. Frank Rokins did a great job of playing a small-ball four, but his athleticism can’t make up for WCU’s lack of a post presence.

Next, the team will need a 3-point sniper to pair with Hyland. Steve Smith, the team’s leader in 3-pointers will not be returning, so someone will have to replace his production. This could be Evan-Eric Longino in the future. The swingman hit 29 of his 58 3-point attempts, a clean 50 percent. It is yet to be seen if he can keep up such elite shooting with more volume, but if he can, that will be huge for this team going forward.

Lastly, the team will need to replace Long’s scoring punch if they hope to compete for the PSAC crown next year. Two very dynamic guards, Malik Jackson and Dashon Giddings, could return to the team next season. If these two were to return, WCU may not have to look far for a scoring punch.

While 2017-2018 was a great season, next year could be the season the Golden Rams make the leap to tournament mainstays.

Quaadree Harris is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. ✉ QH859675@wcupa.edu.

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