Point Park Globe

Men’s basketball looks to rebound from 8-20 season

Junior+guard+Asim+Pleas+attempts+a+layup+in+a+game+against+Villa+Maria+last+season.+The+men+won+their+season+opener+on+Oct.+31+against+Wilberforce.
Junior guard Asim Pleas attempts a layup in a game against Villa Maria last season. The men won their season opener on Oct. 31 against Wilberforce.

Junior guard Asim Pleas attempts a layup in a game against Villa Maria last season. The men won their season opener on Oct. 31 against Wilberforce.

Photo by Gracey Evans

Photo by Gracey Evans

Junior guard Asim Pleas attempts a layup in a game against Villa Maria last season. The men won their season opener on Oct. 31 against Wilberforce.

Written By Derek Malush

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The Point Park men’s basketball team enters the 2017-18 season ranked 10th of the 13 teams in the River States Conference (RSC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll, as the Pioneers look to shift gears from last season in hopes for a playoff berth.

After missing the playoffs last season with an 8-20 overall record, the Pioneers are predicted this year to finish in fifth place in the RSC East standings, the same spot they landed in last season.

However, the team underwent a makeover during the off-season by losing three of its seniors to graduation and adding five new players to this year’s roster.

“I feel like we’re going to make it pretty far this year,” said junior transfer Aaron Barlow.

After Jaylen Mann (9.2 points per game), Art Christian (7.6 ppg) and Lassana Konate (5.7 ppg) graduated last year, first-year head coach Gabe Bubon has recruited some much needed height into this year’s lineup. Two new arrivals in Barlow and Cortez Allen, both 6-foot-6 juniors, will provide the center position with authority to protect the rim this season.

“This year’s team is a lot more close-knit than last year’s team,” Bubon said. “[This team] goes hard every day when in the gym.”

Barlow shot 77.3 percent from the field last season at Beaver County Community College, ranking him number one in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). He averaged 10.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season.

Allen played a total of 56 games in his two years at Cuyahoga Community College from 2015-17. He averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from the field.

Bubon’s additional recruitments include three guards in sophomore Daniel King from Westmorland County Community College, junior Michael Connor from Western Nebraska Community College, and freshman Mark Shehady out of Hampton High School. The three will look to add more depth to the point guard and shooting guard positions.

Senior Rushan Roberts said even though the team looks a lot different this year, the players are close with each other.

“Outside of basketball, we’re all just hanging out around campus with each other, so there is a lot of chemistry already built up,” Roberts said.

Three seniors will return this year including Roberts and guard Gavin Rajahpillay. Rajahpillay was one of 10 players selected to the RSC Preseason All-Conference team. Forward Fousseini Konate will also make his final appearance this year for the Pioneers.

“I’m going to bring the energy every time and every second,” Konate said about his upcoming senior year.

Junior guard Asim Pleas also makes a return to the team this season as a starter after averaging 10.6 points per game last season.

Bubon and the new-look Pioneers start the season on a six-game road trip away from their new home at the CCAC Allegheny Physical Education Building, less than two miles from the Point Park campus. They opened the season on Oct. 30 at Wilberforce, where they won, 100-94. The team’s first home game is Nov. 22 versus Washington Adventist at 5:30 p.m.

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