The sound of the basketball hitting the backboard before gliding into the hoop is something The Rock men’s basketball team finally heard again. After last season was cancelled due to COVID-19, the court is finally getting action again, fans are returning to the stands to cheer on The Rock and the satisfaction of normalcy in sports has returned.
So far this preseason, Slippery Rock traveled to the University of Iowa, losing 99-47 to the Division I Hawkeyes. After their return home, Slippery Rock held the Butler County Chamber of Commerce Conference Challenge. The tournament hosted at the Morrow Field House, was where they picked up their first win on the home court.
On day one, The Rock fell to Notre Dame College 99-95 in overtime, before earning a victory the next day. Slippery Rock defeated Alderson Broaddus University 81-71 to round out the tournament results. The Battlers are in the Mountain East Conference (MEC), whereas Slippery Rock resides in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), both within close magnitude of talent.
Following the weekend tournament, The Rock won by nearly double the amount of points Penn State Fayette was able to put up. Against The Rock, the Nittany Lions went home with a final score of 101-52.
Four of Slippery Rock’s players reached double-figures in baskets scored against Penn State Fayette. Leading the team in scoring was Frankie Hughes with 20 points, Zaire Rogers had 18, Jonathan McFall added 12, and finally Amante Britt finished off with 11. Rogers also kept the crowd intrigued with multiple dunk shots and alley-oops.
However, there wasn’t just one player who stood out, and the entire squad played aggressively leading to the run-away team win. Well-rounded shooting guard Bobby Clifford produced a balanced game of offense and defense with nine points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Lashon Lindsey landed 14 rebounds for Slippery Rock to add to the solid defensive performance. Nik Cazacu and Dylan Ahearn added a combined 17 points as well.
In total, 13 Rock players were able to see the court Wednesday to gain valuable in game skills and playing time.
Defensively, The Rock forced a total of 18 turnovers to keep the ball on the shooting side of the Morrow Field House court. Having the ball that often allowed the team to shoot an impressive 45 percent from the line.
Slippery Rock created a deficit too large for the Penn State Fayette team to come back from. After ending the first half with a score of 46-32, Penn State Fayette was held to just 20 points in the second half before claiming the loss.
On the other side, Dasilas Jones, sophomore guard for the Nittany Lions, put up most of the teams’ baskets with 20 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Slippery Rock’s 101-point finish marks the first time since 2018 that The Rock tallied triple digits on the scoreboard, and conference play hasn’t even started yet.
The Rock was pressing the Nittany Lion zone, and Coach Ian Grady will try to keep them playing that way into the future. They will compete in a battle between the best of the East and West of the PSAC to open conference play this weekend.
The Rock will host East Stroudsburg University this Saturday Nov. 20, 3 p.m. to gauge the possible outcome of a future playoff conference that both teams will play toward this season. Both teams are expected to make a strong impression this year.
The Rock’s appearances in non-conference games thus far have been promising of a winning season for 2022. Grady said he’s glad to have his team play teams in other caliber divisions, as it is preparing them to play better teams. The challenges lie within the dedication of the team to continue improving their record, which currently sits at 2-1.