McKeesport, PA. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball team (0-0, 0-0) will usher in a new generation of players when they open their 2019-2020 season against Butler County Community College (0-0, 0-0) on Monday at 7 p.m. Gone are leading scorer Jordon Payne and two of the top three rebounders, but in their places step some young, fresh talent looking to get off to a strong start.
It was another playoff season for head coach Tyler Care in 2018-2019 as he led his team to their fourth consecutive Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) playoff tournament appearance. As that season started, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. PSUGA went just 2-3 through their first five conference games and went into the break toward the bottom of the PSUAC West Division.
In the second half of the season, PSUGA come roaring back into contention rattling off nine wins in their next ten games and finding themselves in a tie for first place in the division. They would finish the year 4-3 in their final seven games and were forced to go on the road to PSU-Shenango for their first-round playoff game. It came down to the final seconds, but PSUGA ended up falling 64-61 ending their season.
With some of last year’s top performers gone, PSUGA is looking to their veterans to step up this season. Junior Koran Fleming (Wilkinsburg, PA./Westinghouse HS) is a prime candidate to lead this year’s offense after setting new career highs in points (229), assists (53), and rebounds (60) in 2018-2019.
Fleming’s biggest shot of the season came in February, against PSU-Brandywine, with the game tied at 65-65 and 0.3 showing on the clock. Fleming launched the ball from just beyond half court and drained it to give his team a 68-65 victory and pull them into a first-place tie in the PSUAC West Division. Fleming would become a permanent fixture in the starting five from that point on and established himself as an offensive threat.
While veteran presence is key, this year’s team features a roster with 12 newcomers all looking to make their impact felt from day one. One of the standouts has been freshman Casey Oliver (Sto Rox, PA./Lincoln Park HS). Oliver helped lead his team to the WPIAL 3A Boys Basketball championship last season serving as the sixth man off the bench. Oliver has been noted for his ability to provide a spark to the team, and he looks to bring that fire to PSUGA from the bench.
Butler County Community College enters 2019-2020 ushering in a new generation of basketball players as well. The Pioneers lost four of their top five scorers from last season and feature a roster of five returning players. Leading the way is sophomore Andrew Yonker who finished third on the team with 326 points last season.
In four previous match-ups with Butler County Community College, PSUGA has yet to lose, going a perfect 4-0 in those meetings. When playing them last season, PSUGA broke their single-game scoring record rolling to a 120-92 win. Payne led the way with 29 points while Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, PA./West Mifflin HS) added 22 points in the season-opening win.
Tip-off for Monday’s Men’s Basketball season opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Wunderley Gym. You can watch a live stream of the game at bit.ly/PSUGAYT.