Photo courtesy of Tyler Jefferson.
With just three games left in the regular season, West Chester’s men’s basketball team have found themselves leading the PSAC East with a 20-5 overall record. To get to where they are now, they have won 14 straight games and counting, while remaining unbeaten at home. Their current streak of 14 straight wins is now the longest streak in program history after their dominating 91-56 win over Mansfield University. Here’s four reasons why the Golden Rams have been able to perform at such a high level.
Home Court Advantage
West Chester has been striving during the 2018-2019 season, especially when they’re playing at Hollinger Field House. The Golden Rams perfect performance at home is part of the reason they’re sitting on top of the PSAC East as the end of the regular season approaches. To go along with their phenomenal 15-2 record in conference play, the Rams have been unbeatable at home, with a 12-0 record to show for it.
Playing inside Hollinger Field House seems to give the team that extra push during their performances. On the road, West Chester manages to put up an impressive 74 points per game. However, at home, their average jumps to an even better 85. At 12-0, the Golden Rams stand as the only team in the PSAC, east or west, without a loss on their home court.
Teamwork has played a huge role in the success the team has been able to accomplish so far this season. With a well-balanced offense, the team puts up 82 points per game on 16 assists. With multiple 1,000-point scorers, it isn’t hard to put the ball in the basket. Seniors Jackson Hyland, Frank Rokins and Matt Penecale have all hit the 1,000-point plateau this season along with junior guard Malik Jackson, who made his return after missing last season.
Everything starts with team captain Penecale, who does a great job running the show for Coach Damien Blair. Along with scoring 1,000 points, the star point guard also became West Chester’s all-time assists leader this season when he passed the great Ricky Hicks (‘91) for the number one spot.
The team’s unselfish play has them on a 14-game winning streak heading into the last three games of the season. For the second time in the past two seasons, the Golden Rams have gone on a winning streak of ten or more victories.
Defense wins championships and for the Golden Rams, that will hopefully be the case. While putting up 82 points per game, the team manages to keep their opponents to 68, winning their match-ups by an average of 14 points.
Toughness and physicality on both ends of the floor have been key throughout the season. Their 17 offensive rebounds per game have them as the top offensive rebounding team in the country. Their chemistry and team defense are challenging opponents to shoot just under 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from the three.
The players on the men’s basketball team have Blair to thank for making sure the program is running smoothly. In his 11th season, he has the team in the best shape they could possibly be in. This season, Blair claimed his 200th victory and now his career record stands at 200-108. He is now the only person behind WCU Hall of Famer Dick Delaney who holds the all-time career wins record with 370. Year in and year out, Blair shows what a great coaching job he can perform, and this year has been no different.
Tyler Jefferson is a third-year student majoring in comm. studies and minoring in journalism. TJ876163@wcupa.edu