The last time the Waynesburg University Yellow Jacket men’s basketball team played the Thomas More Saints, it was in the Rudy Marisa Field House and the Jackets were tied at half before Thomas More broke away.
This time around, head coach Mark Christner sees his team as more prepared to finish the game on the road.
“I think we improved in our passing and taking care of the basketball,” said Christner. “I think our turnover numbers have gone down the last three weeks, I think against Thomas More that’s important—you want to mix up their defense a little bit, and you want to make sure you can take care of it and handle it.”
The last time these teams played, junior Damion King was able to put up 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 2-of-4 on 3-point shots. However, the scoring ability of King is not the only thing Christner is worried about, he is also worried about King’s ability to move the ball around.
“I mean he’s really good,” said Christner. “He’s a real strong player of the year in our conference and we have to try to keep him in front as much as we can. The thing with him—he facilitates really well too. So, he’s a good passer and he doesn’t get sped up. We have to try to mix up some looks.”
King had seven assists and six rebounds on 33 minutes played. For the Yellow Jackets, senior Jon Knab led the way with 23 points, but was the only player that scored in double digits for the Waynesburg.
Freshman Matt Popeck was held to 3-of-10 shooting and seven points. Christner is going to look to make adjustments to a team which was the conference champions last season.
“They’re the defending conference champs—they do a good job of hard gapping defensively, which they do it best in our league. There isn’t a lot of space to kind of get places inside the three-point line,” said Christner, “[Popeck] really good in mid-range, it’s one of his strengths. He had a tough time getting there and we’ll try to do a better job and isolate things.”
Although Christner has a team that has won a lot ahead of his team, he sees similarities and possibilities about being able to beat the Saints.
“I don’t know if we do anything better than them to be honest,” said Christner, “We are similar—I think we can shoot it from different spots, we have different guys who can score from different spots and it’s a balance. Jon [Knab] and Matt [Popeck] have been our main scorers and are certainly kind of option one, [we will] just try to develop more options and utilize Marcus in the post, try to utilize Ben [Vitovich] running the floor and trying to utilize the bench.”
With Thomas More leaving the conference at the end of this season, this could be the final time that Waynesburg University faces the Saints. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. this Saturday.