SEASON PREVIEW: Panthers Men's Basketball To Open 2018-19 Season Hosting Keuka Saturday

Photo by Erika Helo
Photo by Erika Helo

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford men's basketball team will begin its 2018-19 season Saturday welcoming Keuka to the KOA Arena.

Pitt-Bradford is guided by first-year head coach Ryan Shay, who joins the Panthers after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Rochester since 2014. A native of Andover, N.Y., Shay spent his collegiate years playing at Houghton where he graduated in 2011.

"We're getting better every day, which is good to see," Shay said. "They're buying into our 'team-first' culture. There's a pretty good level of excitement among the guys about some of our changes and different things we're going to be doing this year."

Pitt-Bradford returns a trio of starters from last season in Desmond Brogsdale, Reggie Rogers and Dylan Mitchell. A regular on the floor a season ago, Jacob Sutton is also back for the Panthers. 

"On and off the court, I'm going to rely on our four seniors: Desmond, Reggie, Dylan and Jake," Shay said. "Of course they all have the most college experience, but that hasn't stopped them from wanting to learn quickly and have a new season from what they had last year, which is really encouraging."

Brogsdale is the team's leading returning scorer, averaging 10.6 points per game last season. Rogers stayed on the floor more than any other Panther last season at 28.9 minutes per game while averaging 7.2 points per contest.

Mitchell is the second-leading returning scorer with 9.3 points per game while pulling in 3.5 boards per game. Sutton played in 21 games and made eight starts averaging 10.9 minutes per game last season.

Also back for the Panthers are sophomores Jeffrey Fry, George Alston and Ugwunna Amadi. Zach Reigel also returns to the program as a senior this season.

"Jeff and George are both coming back with a lot more strength and confidence this season," Shay said of his sophomores. "Zach brings a lot of toughness for us and Ugwunna's level of athleticism is going to be helpful for us on both ends."

New to the Panthers this season are freshmen D.J. Haggins (Euclid, Ohio), Tyron Williams (Chambersburg, Pa.), junior Justin Kusiappouh (East Stroudsburg, Pa.) and senior Oumar Sanogo (Harlem, N.Y.). 

"Oumar and Justin are two post players who transferred in and have done a really good job learning as quickly as possible and both could be impact players inside for us," Shay said of his newcomers. "D.J. and Tyron are both going to be great players for this program. Right now, they're getting up to speed and used to the college game, but our upperclassmen are helping them with that and taking on some of those roles while they get ready."

Pitt-Bradford is looking to improve upon a 4-21 season a year ago, in which the Panthers went 3-15 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference contests.

"Our goal is to make the conference tournament," Shay said of his season outlook. "Where we finished last season is just fuel for the fire for these guys, and we think it's absolutely in the realm of possibility this season. We want to have our own standards and expectations every possession, every half and every game."

Saturday's season opener is one of 12 home contests at the KOA Arena for the Panthers. Each home game day is also a doubleheader with the women's team, which will play first.

Pitt-Bradford will open AMCC action Wednesday, Nov. 28, as Medaille comes to the KOA Arena.

"It should be an exciting season," Shay concluded. "I'm excited to see the guys out there competing, representing Pitt-Bradford, and I'm happy we get to start our season on our home floor. Hopefully everyone from the campus community and Bradford area enjoys watching these guys compete as well."