Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells once said;
“You are what your record says you are.”
Whether or not that’s a universal truth of sports is up for debate. For Waynesburg University men’s basketball coach Tim Fusina, however, this accurately sums up how the 2019-20 season has gone thus far.
Coming into its Presidents’ Athletic Conference opener at Grove City, the Jackets were 0-6, with all six losses coming by double digits.
“[We are a] team that is still trying to figure out how we want to play, and trying to put 40 minutes together on both ends,” Fusina said. “We’ll have some stretches where we look pretty good offensively and then stretches where we don’t. We have stretches where we play decently defensively and then stretches where we don’t. We’re a team trying to put 40 minutes together is what I see, and we haven’t been able to do that yet.”
Waynesburg will have another chance to put a complete game together in Pittsburgh this Saturday. It will be a tall task, however, trying to take down the defending PAC tournament champions, the Chatham Cougars.
Uneasy is the head that wears the crown
Chatham has only had a basketball program since 2015, but last season, the Cougars stunned the PAC,beating regular season champion St. Vincent in the tournament final.
Although Waynesburg fell in the first round of the PAC tournament, the Yellow Jackets beat Chatham in Pittsburgh, and perhaps should have beat the Cougars in Greene County, but let a double-digit halftime lead slip away.
The Cougars lost seven seniors from that championship squad, including leading scorer Isiah Brown. Although the roster has changed, the Cougars are still prolific offensively, leading the PAC in scoring at more than 79 points per game complimented by a 5-2 record coming into Wednesday.
“They’re still a run-and-gun, put up a lot of threes and make a lot of threes kind of team,” Jacket guard Frank Bozicivec said. “ [They rely on] a lot of guard play.”
Both of Chatham’s losses have come by a combined 14 points. Chatham has five players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Will Sandheer [17.6 PPG] and Brandon Lavernia [12.4 PPG].
Decisive losses for Waynesburg
In some cases, an 0-6 record could be deceiving. Unfortunately for Waynesburg, there haven’t been any “ones that got away” so far.
“The scores are the scores,” Fusina said. “At points we are competitive, at points we are not. So [are they] indicative of how [the season has] gone? Yeah, it’s indicative of how it’s gone.”
Life without Popeck
Waynesburg’s leading scorer, Matt Popeck, has been injured for Waynesburg’s last four games. The junior from Washington, PA was second in the PAC in scoring last season, and without him, Waynesburg has struggled on both sides of the ball.
“He’s our leader,” Fusina said. “He guards the ball. He can make an open shot from the perimeter, and if you look at our percentages, we struggle to do that. We struggle to do both.”
Bozicevic said this was a year Popeck emphasized being a leader, and now, he’ll have to lead from the bench and not the court.
“I really feel for him, because I know he wants to be out there,” Bozicevic said.
Tipoff is at 2 p.m.