The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team has gone through some changes during the off season. With the acquisition of new head coach Chris Fite, the Raiders will have a new look once they step out on the court to begin the 2013–14 season.
Fite left behind his seven seasons at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he served as the assistant coach to Joe Lombardi, IUP’s current coach. Fite is a coach who focuses on defense.
“I just think for us the culture has got to change. It has to be a work mentality,” Fite said. “We have to focus on the day-to-day processes. We just need to come with the mentality that we will not be outworked.”
The Raiders are going to need a strong work ethic if they want to compete in a tough PSAC division.
In the preseason poll the Raiders were picked ninth in the PSAC East Division, being that they lost two key players in Reggie Charles and Tyhiem Perrin.
Charles was the go-to man for the Raider offense last season, averaging 14 points per game, the most on the Raider squad.
Despite the key losses, the Raiders do have a few key returning players in Dylan Edgar, Tony Ellis and Joe Lococo.
Edgar is the only returning All-PSAC player for SU. Edgar averaged 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Raiders last season, earning him a preseason All-PSAC player nomination. Unfortunately Edgar is currently battling a knee injury and could miss the start of the season.
“He’s an All-Conference player so anytime you lose a player of that caliber you have got to make some adjustments,” Fite said. “I think it is a great opportunity for the big men who are in the system to step up and get some extra minutes. I think it is going to make us a stronger team in the long run.”
One of SU’s big men who will need to step in and fill the void will be Tony Ellis. Ellis made a big impact on the Raider squad in his freshman season. The 6-foot-5-inch forward averaged 4.7 points per game last season for the Raiders.
Despite being listed as a forward, Ellis gathered 137 total rebounds for SU last year.
“We are just trying to build on the mistakes we had last year. We are learning to play as a team, not play individual basketball,” Ellis said.
SU has brought in some new faces to the organization during the offseason.
“Abe Massaley is the freshman point guard we signed. He is the one true point we have in the system,” Fite said. “He is going to have a lot of responsibility and probably more than a freshman should have but he has impressed me so far.”
Massaley is a 5-foot-11-inch guard from Imhotep Institute Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pa. During his four seasons at Imhotep he accumulated four varsity letters and averaged 10 points per game under coach Andre Noble.
The Raiders will be the underdogs this season because of the lack of veterans but are optimistic about how the season will turn out.
“Teams are expecting us to be just Shippensburg. They are going to expect to just come in beat us. I think we, as a team, can come in and compete. I do think we have what it takes to compete,” Ellis said.
The Raiders are scheduled to face Alderson-Broaddus University on Nov. 15 and Shepherd University on Nov. 16.
Tipoff for both games is at 8 p.m. and will be played inside Heiges Field House as part of the annual Wolf’s Bus Line Classic hosted by the Raiders.