The Waynesburg men’s basketball team faces Bethany at home in the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Yellow Jackets enter the game 1-3 after winning Wednesday night at Franciscan, while the Bison come to Waynesburg at 0-4 after losing to Geneva on Wednesday.
Since their opener two weeks ago against Westminster, the Yellow Jackets have given up less points to each opponent that follows. Head Coach Tim Fusina explained how the team has done this.
“They’re attention to detail,” Fusina said. “I think we make strides every day. We run two rosters: varsity and jv. Our varsity roster has 20 guys, 18 of them are healthy, and they push each other and make each other better every day.”
One of the members of this young Yellow Jackets team is Freshman Jansen Knotts. He believes communication improvement has led to a stronger team connection and defense.
“We’re getting better at talking every game,” Knotts said. “Coach Fusina emphasizes for us to talk, and I think we’re doing that better.”
Both Bethany and Waynesburg have younger rosters as well as a few other similarities before tip-off Saturday.
“They set more on-ball screens than we do, but it’s a motion offense, similar to ours,” Knotts said.
Fusina expressed that both he and Bethany Head Coach Nick Hager are kind of from the same mold in styles.
“They’re half-court man, we’re half-court man. They screen and cut, we screen and cut a little bit differently,” Fusina said. “They’re an athletic team with some guys that can drive it on you, so I think there are a lot of similarities between us.”
One of the main players driving Bethany’s scoring is senior Dalton Hamrick. Hamrick enters Saturday fifth in Presidents’ Athletic Conference scoring with 74 points in four games.
Game planning for Hamrick consists of making the afternoon unenjoyable for the Bison leading scorer.
“We need to make him uncomfortable in the catch,” Fusina said. “We need to pressure him, contest his shot and if we do that we’ll be in a good position.”
When asked if Hamrick got extra focus when preparing for the game, Knotts reaffirmed confidence in the Jackets defense.
“He’s their main scorer, but I feel like the way our defense has been playing that we can stop anyone,” Knotts said.
Outside of winning, both the player and coach know what they want to accomplish in the game at the halfway mark of this nine-game PAC season.
“Make the best of the time we have on the floor together,” Knotts said. “We have a little bit of momentum after Wednesday and if we keep moving in the right direction as a team we really have a bright future.”
A future that has a stable foundation and time to work with thanks to eligibility waivers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having a year like this where everybody is getting it back is huge for a young group,” Fusina said. “I want us to continue to develop and take the steps necessary to be a championship program and keep understanding what it takes to win at the college level.”
The game Saturday will be live on the Waynesburg University Sports Network. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. with the pregame show leading up to tip-off at 2 p.m.