By Shane Ostroski
The Marywood University Men’s Basketball team has had quite the roller coaster ride so far this season. The Pacers started off the year winning three out of their first four games with wins over Penn St. Wilkes-Barre, Penn St. Hazleton, and Penn St. Worthington.
With the absence of last year’s leading scorer Sidney Tharpe, the Pacers would go on to lose their next five games with losses to CSAC opponents Immaculata University, Cabrini College, Keystone College, Neumann University and out of conference opponent Misericordia University.
Tharpe returned to the lineup for Marywood’s match up against Wilkes University, in which he lead all scorers with 29 points but the Colonels defeated the Pacers 86-75. The Pacers would end their slide on the road with a close and hard fought win against local rival Baptist Bible 90-87. The team would go on to lose their next two conference games against Immaculata and Gwenedd-Mercy College.
Tragedy would then strike the Pacers just two days before their home contest against Baptist Bible. Volunteer Assistant Coach, Paul Johnson died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 42. The news shocked the entire Marywood Community and the team wanted to honor their coach the best way they knew how. In an inspired effort started off by a Lenny Martin dunk off a beautiful alley- oop pass from D.J. Stray horn , the Pacers routed the Baptist Bible Defenders 97-65 in front of an emotional crowd at the Insalaco Arena . The Pacers in honor of Johnson will wear black bands on their uniforms for the remainder of the season.
The team suffered another tough loss at the hands of the Rosemont College Ravens. The Pacers then traveled to Centenary where they lost their second game in a row 96-81. The Pacers as of The Wood Word’s deadline, January 27th , were 5-11 overall with a 2-8 conference record. Marywood was in 8th place in the CSAC with the top six teams qualifying for playoffs.
The leading scorer for the Pacers is Sidney Tharpe, who is averaging 18.7 points per game. Tharpe is followed by Jacques Robinson 12.6 ppg and D.J Strayhorn 11.4 ppg. The top three point shooters(attempts made) for the Pacers are Robinson with 31, Tyler Reinhard with 23 and Tharpe with 19. The top three free throw shooters for Marywood are Jimmy Lavan 75%, Strayhorn 71.7%, and Robinson 70.8%. Strayhorn leads the team in assists with 56 and Lenny Martin leads the team in rebounds with 92.
Pat Lambert, Xhevat Vukel, and Antre Cole are no longer listed on the team’s roster according to mupacers.com. Sophomore Forward Rich Bell had this to say about the team’s season so far “Throughout the season our team has faced many difficulties dealing with the loss of players and the death of our coach, Paul Johnson. Through these hardships, we have grown stronger together as a team and more importantly as a family.” Although the Pacer’s playoff hopes may seem bleak, the team is still playing hard and they still have not lost sight of their goals. “We have not had the season that we envisioned for ourselves, but we still believe we are capable of making a run and earning a spot in the playoffs,” said sophomore Forward Brent Keyes.
The Pacers will have plenty of chances to better their conference record in hopes of making the playoffs with eight of their nine remaining games being conference tilts.
No matter what record the Pacers finish with, this season has taught the team many lessons that stretch far beyond the game of basketball, these lessons are important in the game of life.