GSC makes noise on D-II front

Things are definitely going in the right direction for the Glenville State College women’s basketball team.

Fourth-year head coach Bunky Harkleroad’s squad entered the week ranked 17th in the country in the latest Division II poll.

Not only are the Pioneers on a current 14-game winning streak, but GSC also registered its 20th triumph of the campaign versus only two setbacks after winning at Davis & Elkins on Thursday night.

I still remember when the job was open after Dennis Fitzpatrick had spent two years at the helm following Steve Harold’s departure to Drury University. In the first two days alone, nearly six dozen applicants applied for the job. Obviously, it appears the selection of Harkleroad was spot on.

Janet Bailey, Glenville State’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, is happy to see the program where it’s at. GSC has won 23 games each of the past two years and has been in the West Virginia Conference championship game the last two seasons, winning it all in 2011.

“Steve Harold was a hard act to follow,” Bailey said. “When we met Bunky we really like him and we liked his style of play.”

Entering the week, Glenville State led all of Division II in scoring offense by averaging better than 97 points a game and also ranked first in 3-pointers made at nearly 15 per contest.

Granted, GSC does have the seventh worst defense in the country as it allows 79 points an outing, but that deficiency has more than been made up for due to the fact the Pioneers are eighth in the land in turnover margin. When a team has a turnover margin of almost plus seven, any coach in America will take that.

Of course, even Bailey herself admits she had to get used to the new style of basketball coach Harkleroad brought to town from his last stop at Kentucky’s Berea College.

She didn’t like the fact they weren’t playing defense like previous GSC squads had played, but she quickly changed her mind.

“I just wasn’t used to watching that kind of basketball,” Bailey said. “It grows on you and it works for us.”

Indeed, it surely has worked, especially inside the Jesse R. Lilly Gymnasium where on Saturday afternoon the Pioneers will try to improve to 11-0 at home when Seton Hill visits for a 2 p.m. tip. In the past three years, Harkleroad’s team is 34-1 at home.

One of the key ingredients to GSC’s success is having an unselfish roster that sees the big picture and understands everyone is working together for a common goal.

Currently, the Pioneers have three players – Ginny Mills (17.7), Kenyona Simmons (14.7) and Ashleigh Fossett (13.0) – averaging at least 13 points.

Mills entered the week ranked third in the country and teammate Kenyell Goodson was seventh in made 3s per game. It also doesn’t hurt to have a pair of point guards in Jessica Parsons and Jelena Elez who value the basketball.

Although hoops season is quickly approaching the end, the Pioneers are definitely worth the price of admission if you get a chance to watch them.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com