Where did Dustin Sleva (above) and Shippensburg end up in this week's Division II Power Rankings? (Photo: Tommy Smith/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
We’re now two weeks into the Division II hoops season, which has given us a chance to see who’s for real and who still has some work to do. There’s already been a few pleasant surprises around the area, and a few programs who definitely aren’t feeling so great after their first three to five games.
Previous Rankings: Preseason (Nov. 7)
Others to Watch: Bloomsburg (2-2, 0-2 PSAC), Chestnut Hill (1-2, 0-0 CACC), Goldey-Beacom (0-3, 0-0 CACC), Holy Family (0-3, 0-0 CACC), Mansfield (1-2, 1-1 PSAC), Wilmington (2-2, 0-0 CACC)
7. Lock Haven Bald Eagles (Previous Ranking: 5)
Record: 2-3 (1-1 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Virginia Union (L, 72-69), vs. Shaw (L, 78-70), @ Carlow (Pa.) (W, 87-67), @ No. 6 Indiana (Pa.) (L, 90-83), @ Seton Hill (W, 68-63)
Star Watch: Amir Hinton (R-Soph./SG)
Update: We’ll keep the Bald Eagles ranked for two more weeks, but they’re on thin ice after losing three of their four games against Division II teams -- though playing the No. 6 team in the country within seven points on the road is far from a poor effort, and this is still a young LHU squad. As expected, it’s been Hinton leading the way; the 6-5 Abington grad is arguably the best talent in the PSAC, and he’s backing that up by averaging 23.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.7 apg to lead the team in all three categories. Freshman wing Matt Cerruti, an Archbishop Wood grad, is averaging 9.8 ppg while hitting 42 percent of his 3-pointers. They’ve got some time to work on things, with a day short of two weeks between the Seton Hill and Slippery Rocky games.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Slippery Rock (Dec. 2, 3 PM), vs. Edinboro (Dec. 3, 3 PM)
6. Thomas Jefferson Rams (4)
Record: 3-4 (0-0 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Temple (L, 70-60), vs. Merrimack (L, 61-56), vs. American Int’l (L, 69-64), @ St. Thomas Aquinas (L, 77-67), vs. Bentley (W, 76-71)
Star Watch: Alexander Gorton (Fr./G)
Update: The Rams got their schedule started a week earlier than everybody else, playing three games in California that aren’t mentioned above, going 2-1 out there against good competition, before some mixed results after returning back home. Jefferson’s had to deal with some bad injury news in the early season, as two forwards -- senior Eric Long (6-8) and junior DeVaughn Mallory (6-7) will both miss the whole year after undergoing surgery. So Hall of Famer Herb Magee is stuck playing a six-man rotation; Kylan Guerra (12.9 ppg) and Kaison Randolph (12.9 ppg) have both played every minute thus far. Gorton, a 6-3 guard, is leading the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) while hitting 43 percent of his 3-pointers; he’s the only member of the Rams shooting better than 30 percent from deep, something they’ll need to change quickly.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Bridgeport (Nov. 26, 1 PM), vs. Kutztown (Nov. 28, 6 PM), @ Georgian Court (Dec. 2, 3 PM)
5. University of the Sciences Devils (6)
Record: 3-1 (0-0 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. LIU-Post (W, 63-54), vs. NYIT (W, 79-67), @ Kutztown (L, 88-81), vs. Lincoln (W, 69-62)
Star Watch: Will Gregorits (Sr./F)
Update: This time last year, the Devils were in the midst of what became a nine-game losing streak following a season-opening win, and that skid cost them dearly for the remainder of the season. This year is off to a much better start, especially after USci held off Lincoln to win its home opener in overtime, and these Devils have their hopes on a CACC title for the first time since current Euro pro Garret Kerr starred at the school. They’ve got a great inside-out duo in the 6-8 Gregorits, leading the team in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 ppg), and 6-0 senior Flo Da-Silva, averaging 12.8 ppg and 6.0 apg. Junior forward Brendan Crawford (15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and freshman Paddy Casey (13.0 ppg) round out the group of four in double figures for head coach Dave Pauley. The schedule gets much tougher these next two weeks, which ends with the start of league play against Holy Family.
Next Two Weeks: @ St. Thomas Aquinas (Nov. 21, 7 PM), @ Indiana (Pa.) (Nov. 25, 3 PM), @ Pitt-Johnstown (Nov. 26, 2 PM), @ Holy Family (Dec. 2, 3 PM)
4. West Chester Rams (7)
Record: 4-0 (2-0 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Wesley (W, 82-69), vs. Chestnut Hill (W, 71-45), @ Gannon (W, 52-44), @ Clarion (W, 91-84)
Star Watch: Tyrell Long (Sr./SF)
Update: It hasn’t been a pretty opening four games for West Chester. The Rams have hit just 30 percent of their 3-pointers and are only 57 percent from the foul line, and have an assist-to-turnover ratio below one (.86:1, to be exact). Despite that, West Chester finds itself 4-0 thanks to some impressive defense, holding a Gannon squad that’s scored at least 74 points in its other three to just 44; as a whole, WCU’s opponents are shooting just 37 percent from the floor and 28.8 percent from the 3-point arc. The only two double-figures scorers are both right at 19.0 ppg -- Long, who’s also averaging 6.3 rpg, and junior Jackson Hyland, who’s averaging 4.8 rpg. They’ve also gotten a nice boost from JUCO transfer Frank Rokins, a 6-3 guard who’s third on the team in scoring (9.5 ppg) and its leading rebounder (7.0 rpg).
Next Two Weeks: vs. Wilmington (@ Widener, Nov. 25, 3 PM), vs. Indiana (Pa.) (Dec. 2, 3PM), vs. Seton Hill (Dec. 3, 3 PM)
3. Kutztown Golden Bears (2)
Record: 3-1 (1-1 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Penn State Schuylkill (W, 135-80), vs. USciences (W, 88-81, @ California (Pa.) (L, 87-89), @ Slippery Rock (W, 86-72)
Star Watch: Ethan Ridgeway (Sr./G)
Update: How crazy have the first four games of Ridgeway’s season been? Consider this: he’s No. 2 in the PSAC in scoring (24.3 ppg) despite having a game with less than five points, and he’s the conference leader in assists (8.0/game) despite having a game with only three assists. In his season opener, he only had four points but he dished out 16 assists; he made up for the scoring drought by scoring 30 against Slippery Rock after a career-best 40 points in the narrow loss to Cal U. Redshirt junior guard Anthony Lee, an Abington grad, is eighth in the conference in scoring (21.5 ppg); redshirt freshman wing Moe Williams is averaging 9.0 ppg and 8.8 rpg to pace the team in the latter category. Tough three games coming up with a trip down to the old Philly U before visits from the teams picked No. 3 and No. 2 in the PSAC West preseason poll.
Next Two Weeks: @ Jefferson (Nov. 28, 6 PM), vs. Mercyhurst (Dec. 2, 3 PM), vs. Gannon (Dec. 3, 3 PM)
2. Shippensburg Raiders (1)
Record: 3-1 (1-1 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Shaw (W, 65-53), vs. Virginia Union (W, 78-72), @ Slippery Rock (W, 90-87), @ Edinboro (L, 88-86)
Star Watch: Dustin Sleva (Sr./F)
Update: Shippensburg was about three minutes away from staying atop the poll, but they coughed up a late lead to Edinboro and lost to the preseason No. 8 pick in the nine-team PSAC West. Last year, Ship’s first loss didn’t come until Jan. 28, though that was the first of back-to-back defeats. They’ve got to stay on the road for two more games before finally returning home for four straight, As expected it’s been Sleva, the 6-8 senior out of Montour (Pa.) who’s been leading the way, averaging 26.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg while hitting 51 percent from the floor and 45 percent from 3; as a junior, he averaged 21.7 ppg and 11.0 rpg. Senior guard Justin McCarthur is behind him at 16.3 ppg with an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 2:1.
Next Two Weeks: @ Wilmington (Nov. 22, 2 PM), @ Chestnut Hill (Nov. 28, 8 PM), vs. Gannon (Dec. 2, 3 PM), vs. Clarion (Dec. 3, 3 PM)
1. East Stroudsburg Warriors (3)
Record: 2-0 (2-0 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Clarion (W, 113-71), @ Pitt-Johnstown (W, 99-88)
Star Watch: Marc Rodriguez (Fr./SG)
Update: Two impressive wins for the Warriors to open the year bumps them up to the top thanks to the Kutztown and Shippensburg losses, and they’ve got a solid chance to stay here for two more weeks, with four home games taking ESU through Thanksgiving and beyond. Though he hasn’t started either game, freshman guard Marc Rodriguez certainly made his presence felt by hitting 9-of-16 3-pointers over the two games, averaging 15.5 ppg and earning PSAC Rookie of the Week honors. The Warriors have also benefitted from the return of fifth-year big man Steve Harris, who missed most of last season due to injury; Harris is averaging a team-high 16.0 ppg plus 6.0 rpg, while going 14-of-17 (.824) from the floor. Five other ESU players -- Ralik Wise (13.0 ppg), Kobi Nwandu (13.0), Ryan Krawczeniuk (11.5), Jakwan Jones (11.0) and Nick Giordano (10.5) are averaging double figures so far.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Chestnut Hill (Nov. 22, 6 PM), vs. Concordia (Nov. 27, 7 PM), vs. Seton Hill (Dec. 2, 3 PM), vs. California (Pa.) (Dec. 3, 3 PM)