Character and a willingness to succeed shine through in the eyes of adversity — and once adversity hits, does one cower away, or does one approach it head-on with full resolve?
As the Shippensburg University men’s basketball team entered the season, many questions arose as to whether the youthful team could make a mark in the PSAC race or if they would be relegated to cellar dwellers. Those questions were answered early on, but with West Chester University coming into Heiges Field House tonight, SU is poised to make a statement about how much it has grown this year.
Picked to finish seventh in the PSAC East in the preseason poll, the Raiders were living up to the expectations cast down from the PSAC voters. Enduring a 10 game losing streak, SU was showing that the youth movement was taking a longer time to develop than some had thought. Throughout that 10 game span opponents outscored SU by 10.6 points a game — a number that is heavily skewed due to a 24-point whooping from Indiana University of Pa. two weeks ago.
The losses piled on, but the tide turned with a three-point loss to California University of Pa. as a ferocious second half rally fell just short.
That momentum carried into the next week as SU, led by freshman guard Joe Lococo and sophomore guard Reggie Charles, helped pace the team to victories over Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University. Charles, dubbed PSAC East Player of the Week, tallied 33 points in the two contests, as well as 10 assists. Lococo earned PSAC East Freshman Player of the Week after netting 34 points in the two contests, as well as the game-winner against Mansfield on Saturday.
The duo will need to be working in tandem if SU plans to compete with the Golden Rams on Wednesday night. WCU had a five game winning streak snapped in a 68–64 loss to Millersville University on Saturday but are still sitting comfortably at third in the PSAC East.
The Golden Rams do not have a go-to player that can put points up at will, so the Raiders will have no need to employ double-teams. Charles and Lococo will need to play a good game to keep the Raiders in the contest as WCU’s Corey Blake represents the team’s most formidable opponent. The sophomore is averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds a game — both team highs.
A win for the Raiders would signify the maturation of this group and could slowly hush the criticisms revolving around them.