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Coaches Bring Wealth of Experience to Men’s Basketball Program

Vol. 8, No. 19 (Through Sunday, Dec. 20)

Penn College Wildcat Tales What do Gene Bruno, Tony White and Jason Perry have in common? Other than the fact that all three played high school basketball in the region, they now coach together on the men’s basketball team at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

For four seasons in the late 1990s, Perry was a dominant inside force at South Williamsport Area High School.

Over the next four years, while Perry continued to excel at College Misericordia, White was coming into his own as a guard on the hardwood at Williamsport Area High School.

This season, they join Bruno, who was a 1,000-point career scorer at Bucktail High School in Renovo nearly 40 years ago and now is in his 14th season as head coach of the Wildcats.

“I now have a coach to work with the guards in Tony, who also helps me with the defensive part of the game, and Jason gives me a big-man coach who works with me both on the offense and the defense “¦ It is nice to have input from both coaches,” Bruno said.

Perry, now 28, scored more than 1,600 points both at South and at Misericordia. Over the last four years, in addition to his job as director of rehab services at HCR Manor Care in Williamsport, he has coached at various levels at his high school alma mater.

White, 25, who once dished out 17 assists in a high school game, played two years of college ball at Misericordia and two years at Thiel College. During two years of graduate school at West Chester University, he served as a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball team. White also now teaches two philosophy classes each week at Misericordia.

“I learned a lot from different coaches (he had four in four years of college) because I saw so many different viewpoints,” White said. “Coaching has always been in the back of my mind.”

“(Coach Bruno) basically put me in charge of the man-to-man defense. It’s definitely not where it needs to be right now, but it’s a new system for the players and it takes time. I’m optimistic that we can improve on the defensive end as the season goes on,” White said.

What is the key to improvement?

“It’s about giving intensity every minute of the game. Instead of occasionally taking a break on defense or taking possessions off, it’s about thinking of working hard every possession and trying to shut your man down.

It can’t be a ‘sometimes’ thing. It’s got to be a constant, persistent effort,” White said.

The Wildcats use both a half-court man-to-man and some trap zone presses in an effort to, according to White, “denying the pass; getting out in the passing lane and denying the pass. It forces turnovers and forces the tempo. At the same time, there has to be inside help on the weak side. We’re trying to put those two things together.”

Interestingly, two of the players White now helps coach are his former teammates at Williamsport High: sophomore Leroy Joiner and freshman Noor Ford.

Although offensive statistics may be most noticeable on the 6-foot, 7-inch Perry’s resume, he is quick to point out, “I had very good, fundamentally sound coaches the entire time that I played and they instilled quite a fundamental sound base for me to carry over to coaching. “¦ The transition has been good.

“I tell people all of the time, I love (the game). I can’t get away from it. As much as I try, can’t get away from it.”

“I work with the big men on post moves. Tony and I kind of double-team on the defense part of it because we were kind of brought up the same way. This area does quite a bit with man-to-man defense. He’s much stronger man-to-man because he’s from Williamsport, whereas I grew up in a zone league in high school so I have quite a knowledge of the zone trap,” Perry added.

Despite the Wildcats’ 3-5 record at the semester break, with all five losses coming at the hands of NCAA Division II and III colleges, Perry said progress is being made.

“From the beginning, they’ve really come together and bought into the whole man-to-man defense. They do transition quite well. Penn College has always been a running team, but it appears they’re more cerebral with the transition game now. If the situation presents itself, they’ll push the ball and score a layup and, if it doesn’t, they’ll get into a secondary break and run off that. I think that’s going to be a big deal down the road,” Perry assessed.

“Coach Bruno’s MO is: always play to your strength. Our strengths are the guard play and the transition. And another strength of ours is becoming the man-to-man defense, which is definitely going to help us,” he continued.

“The kids are really focused on what they are doing on the floor and they also have quite a bit of fire in them because, if you can hang with (Division III) King’s to a point that you’ve got them beat with 1:40 left in the game and you don’t fall apart; that says a lot about these kids’ character and how composed they are on the floor,” Perry added.

Penn College is idle until Jan. 2, when it competes in the first round of the PNC Bank Holiday Invitational at Scranton University. It resumes Penn State University Athletic Conference play Jan. 14.

Recent Results/Upcoming Games Men’s Basketball Overall record: 3-5 PSUAC record: 1-0Saturday, Jan. 2 at Scranton University Tournament vs. Keene (N.H.) State, 5:30 p.m. (Scranton vs. Hunter, 7:30 p.m.) Sunday, Jan. 3 at Scranton University Tournament, (consolation game 2 p.m., championship 4 p.m.)

Women’s Basketball Overall record: 2-5 PSUAC record: 1-0Thursday, Jan. 14 at Penn State Hazleton, 6 p.m.

Coed Bowling Thursday, Jan. 21 at Johnson College (Green Ridge Lanes), 3 p.m.

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