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Men’s basketball prospectus 2011-12

11/15/2011 —


Senior Justin Reed Leads Veteran Team

Last year, a young Penn State New Kensington men’s basketball team went into the final game of the season looking for a victory and an invitation to the conference playoffs. They were denied on both counts. This year, an experienced squad plans an early RSVP for the Penn State University Athletic Conference tournament.

“The team is focused on improving and renewing the tradition and basketball culture at the campus, “said Doug Schneider, second-year coach head coach. “We have set high goals, and our experience, balanced with a quality recruiting class, can help us accomplish those goals.”

With a symmetrical blend of five upperclassmen and five freshmen, Schneider looks for the team to improve on its 6-10 record and third-place finish in the PSUAC-West division a year ago, in his inaugural season.

“With the personnel that we have this year, we should be able to play a more up-tempo and team-oriented style of play,” said Schneider, who as assistant coach helped the New Kensington Lions earn two berths in the PSUAC playoffs. “Our strength is leadership, mental toughness, and teamwork."

Heading the list of returnees is senior co-captain Justin Reed, a two-time All-Conference selection. Reed, a 6’3 swing-man from Saltsburg High School, is an excellent perimeter shooter, and equally adept at taking the ball to the hoop. During his Penn State career, he is averaging 16 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 81 percent from the foul line. A year ago, the Moween, Pa. native broke the 1,000-point barrier, the first New Kensington player to do so since Dan Polizzano in 2004.

“Justin is our lone senior and has done a lot for this program with his individual contributions,” said Schneider, who earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. “He is now focused on team success and in improving on aspects of his game that are necessary to help the team win.”

Joining Reed at captain’s table is sophomore Daryl Harrington from Perry Traditional. The 5-10 guard is the leader on the court and has stepped up his offense to take on more of the scoring burden. Harrington’s backcourt teammate, Anthony Brown (Oliver), is a versatile 5-10 guard who can fill in at many positions.

“Daryl is the ‘voice’ of our team and his leadership will guide his teammates to success,” Schneider said. “Anthony is one of the hardest workers on the floor, and heart and determination make him a player that every team needs on their squad.” 

Junior guard Abe Strapac (Leechburg) and sophomore guard Mike Poydence (Apollo Ridge) are the outside scoring threats for the New Kensington Lions. Strapec can hit the three-pointers that are needed to open up the inside game, and Poydence is excellent from mid-range to beyond the arc.

“Abe is one of our better shooters and his off-season work has helped to increase his role,” Schneider said. “Mike is a pure shooter and he displays patience, determination, and the willingness to accept whatever role is needed to ensure that the team is successful.” 

Newcomers expected to crack the starting line-up and to provide depth off the bench include a pair of speedy guards and two big inside players. Freshman guards Lamont Wright and Victor Chaney are good ball handlers who can drive and look to dish it off underneath. The recipients of those feeds will be 6-8 freshman center Dillen Statler (Ford City) and 6-5 forward Shaquille Hagar.

“Lamont has a high basketball IQ and  the potential to develop into a leader at the collegiate level while Victor is improving on all aspects of his game to increase his playing time,” Schneider said. “Dillen is coachable and has the potential to be an impact player as the season progresses. Shaquille gives us size and athleticism at power forward.”

Freshman guard Dom Strapec, brother of Abe, is currently battling injuries. He is expected to return in January when the conference schedule heats up and provide another threat from the three-point range.

“We have a very ‘hungry’ team that has displayed the willingness to do what it takes to be successful in our conference,” Schneider said. “The key to this year's season is improvement on focus, academics, selflessness, and teamwork.” 

Schneider was named head coach last year after four years as assistant coach under former coach Ryan Shank. The banner year was 2007 when the team went 22-6 and finished sixth in the nation in the United State Collegiate Athletic Association. In the PSUAC, the team went undefeated during the regular season and finished as runner-up for the conference title. The squad was ranked number one in the country for the last six weeks of the season.

As an undergrad at Pitt-Bradford, he was the captain of the basketball team that won two conference titles and received two NCAA Division III playoff berths. The Marienville, Pa., native led the nation in three-point shooting percentage, 54 percent, in 2002.

When he is not coaching, Schneider is a paraeducator at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Pittsburgh. Paraeducators work under the supervision of teachers or other professional practitioners. Their responsibilities include providing other services to youth and their families. Schneider assists WPSD students with both academic and behavior issues. Schneider resides in Apollo, Pa., with his wife, Tiffany, and three-year old son Dalton.

The coach can be contacted at dls86@psu.edu via e-mail.

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