McKeesport, Pa. - The 2014-15 Penn State Greater Allegheny men's basketball kicked-off their season under new leadership to begin to pave the way to be a contender within the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) and beyond.
On the men's side, head coach Tyler Care, a veteran of the PSUAC conference play, knew the hard work the men would have to put in if they wanted to win and make it a successful season. "Being a new coach of a new team was something I definitely had to work with," said Care.
Care was a graduate assistant at California University of PA before taking over the program of the men's basketball team here at PSUGA. "I saw this as a perfect opportunity. Being so young, it helps me relate to the players in a way that a lot of older coaches wouldn't be able to because they don't have much in common," stated Care. "I try to make sure that I show each player that I care about them."
Having to rebuild a program that lacked a bit of structure, Care knew it was going to be a challenge for him, as well as his players. "The biggest personal goal was to cement my head-coaching style. I have played and coached under a lot of great coaches and I have taken pieces of each of them to create my own coaching style so I wanted to really perfect what I considered to be the right way to coach for me."
As the season quickly rolled around, the men's basketball team faced Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference (PSAC) opponents such as Edinboro and California University of Pennsylvania in early regular season play, in preparation for the aggressive PSUAC play they would see for the remainder of the season.
The season began with a home opener to Westmoreland County Community College in non-conference play. The energy lifted the team to a solid victory, beating the Wolf Pack 84-73. Care adjusted his line up when needed to see how the players meshed well with one another and to also see what needed to be worked on. Following the win to WCCC was Greater Allegheny's Tip-Off Tournament. Teams such as Kent State-Tuscarawas and Apprentice visited the Lions, where Greater Allegheny placed second in the team's first tournament.
Following a great start to their season, the Lions opened up with Penn State DuBois, in the first conference match-up of the year. Greater Allegheny held off DuBois in a 72-64 victory, advancing their overall record to 4-4. In an exciting fight with rival Penn State Hazelton, senior forward Petrie Addison (Fort Myers, Fla./Florida Christian) recorded his first triple-double, and the first in school history, with 20 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists, beating Hazelton 87-74. Hard competition left GA at .500 going into winter break, defeating one of the top teams in the conference, Penn State Fayette.
Upon arrival after the break, freshman guard Jashaun Fontanez (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West) was welcomed to the team. "Adding Jashaun at the break was also big for us that gave us another shooter and ball handler," said Care. After his efforts for the blue-and-white, Fontanez was awarded United States Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Division II Honorable Mention. He finished the season with 211 points and 59 rebounds, averaging 51.4% from the floor. A career high for Fontanez came in a 102-87 loss to Penn State Mont Alto, finishing with 37 points in his first game as a Nittany Lion.
The teams first and only win of the second semester would come against Penn State Brandywine, in a 80-74 victory, just narrowly missing a playoff position by one win.
Freshman guard Khari Hicks (Pittsburgh, Pa./Imani Christian) and senior forward Petrie Addison (Fort Myers, Fla./Florida Christian), were two of the players that efforts stood out on the floor. Not only were they natural leaders on the court, but they also showed Coach Care a style of basketball he had not seen before.
"Both Petrie and Khari were very consistent players throughout the year. They did a great job leading their teammates." Khari rallied a total of 463 points, shooting 65.1% from the floor. As for Addison, he ended his senior season tallying over 1,000 points and collected 314 rebounds and shooting 56% from the floor. Addison was also named PSUAC and USCAA Player of the Week for his efforts through December 9th. During that week, he averaged a double-double through three games, knocking down 21.3 points per contest and grabbing 16.7 boards a game. Petrie was also awarded PSUAC Second Team All-Conference USCAA Second Team All-American.
"Freshman guard Antonio Lucic-Jozak (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) and freshman forward Tony Patterson-Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Roxborough) gave us great minutes and worked extremely hard." Coach Care concludes, "I believed we performed very well given the team dynamic we possessed along with the amount of time we had together this year. I was very proud of the way we battled every game and the consistent focus we showed."
With an overall record of 8-18, 5-11 in PSUAC play, the Nittany Lions ended their season shooting 40.5% from the field, 30.7% behind the arch and 60.2% from the free throw line, as well as grabbing 44.3 boards a game.
Congratulations to our Nittany Lions this season and we look forward to your continuation of hard work through next season.
By: Christina Floyd
Athletic Department Intern