Glenville State men off to hot 4-0 start with key wins
GLENVILLE — Justin Caldwell, the third-year head coach of the Glenville State College men’s basketball team, isn’t one to mince words.
When asked about the Pioneers’ hot start to the campaign he admitted “I’m shocked. That’s a credit to them sharing the basketball with one another and trusting one another.”
The G-men, who were picked to finish seventh in the Mountain East Conference preseason poll, are currently 4-0 and play host at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Waco Center to preseason No. 5 Wheeling University.
“We returned 20 points a game and we averaged like 90 a game last year. We had to replace 70 points a game,” said the coach, who has started Hegel Augustin (26.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg), John Williams (20.5 ppg), Nick Edwards (17.5 ppg, 6.8 apg, 4.0 spg), Adrian Scarborough (10.3 ppg) and Seth Fallon (2.3 ppg) in each contest thus far.
“A whole new team trying to get them to play together. This year is unique.
We didn’t have scrimmages and the exhibitions and the preseason games to help those guys gel together.”
Augustin went off for a career-high 40 points in the Pioneers’ season-opening 117-114 win at preseason No. 4 W.Va. State.
That victory was followed by a narrow 72-70 upset of preseason No. 3 Charleston inside the Waco Center. GSC then bested No. 11 Davis & Elkins, 90-85, inside the Waco Center before blowing out No. 10 W.Va. Wesleyan, 106-85, on the road last Saturday.
“Great players make great coaches. It’s nothing that I’m doing,” quipped Caldwell. “It’s 100 percent a credit to them and they trust each other. We try to put them in situations, especially in the preseason, where they had opportunities to fail where they could learn from those experiences. They’ve gotten so used to playing together.”
The coaching staff would do scenarios in practice where the team was down 10 with two minutes to play.
Against Davis & Elkins, the G-men trailed by a dozen with five minutes to go and rallied to win.
“How do you respond,” Caldwell continued of such a situation. “I’m over there (on the sideline) like ‘Oh, gosh, this is over’ and they never quit believing in each other and they don’t make selfish plays. Last year, in games decided by two possessions or less we were 0-6 and this year we are 3-0 already.”
With no one on the roster taller than 6-foot-3, the Pioneers also had to adapt to a new style of play.
“We put in a new identity,” added the coach. “I thought small ball we’d take to a whole new level. That’s what we decided to do. Five guys who can dribble, pass and shoot on the floor the whole time. We try to go the analytical route with that and try to play with the floor spacing and four, five guys who can shoot the basketball.”
In the early going, Zane Desouza (7.3 ppg) and Tommy Williams (5.5 ppg) have paced the Pioneer bench. Luke LeRose (2.8 ppg) also has seen action in all four games, Gus Eddy (2.7 ppg) has seen action in three tilts while Nicolas Dierynick, Ethan Clay and Dawson Lilly received their first floor time of the campaign at W.Va. Wesleyan.
Even with the 4-0 start, coach Caldwell said going back and watching film is still tough at times.
“When you won the game it makes it easier,” he said. “Then when you watch the film you wonder how you won because you made so many simple mistakes. Seven out of our nine guys are new. It’s going to take time. I felt throughout the preseason and practices it would come eventually, but normally that takes time. We are nowhere as good as what I think we can be if we continue to progress.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org