Beaver Falls, PA – If winning motivates players and teams to succeed then what does losing do? In the case of the 2012-13 Geneva College men’s basketball team, suffering the lowest win total in 25 years last season has motivated that group to get back to the winning tradition that is Geneva College basketball. Prior to last year’s troubles, the men’s basketball team at Geneva had enjoyed back to back 18-win seasons. The road bump that was the 2011-12 season can become a distant memory with a rebound season led by head coach Jeff Santarsiero, who is set to begin his 17th at the helm of the Golden Tornadoes program. “Losing is not fun,” says Santarsiero. “Going through a season like last year really makes you reevaluate things from top to bottom. We have outstanding kids in this program and because of what happened a year ago, we are all motivated to get back to where we belong.”
Geneva finished the 2011-12 season with an overall record of 6-20 that included a 5-11 mark in the PAC. Perhaps the most disappointing fact was how Geneva limped to the finish line with losses in 14 of its final 17 games. “We always want to develop our team to be playing its best basketball at the end of the season,” says Santarsiero. “We had a lot of variables that went into last year’s disappointments but we feel like we have the right recipe this year to get back on track.”
Probably the best place to start for this year’s Geneva team is to put the ball in senior Matt Lorello’s hands as much as possible. Lorello enjoyed a break-out season last year with a team best 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Lorello led the PAC with his 62.8% shooting mark from the field and will once again prove to be a force to be reckoned with across the PAC. “Matt just simply gets the job done,” says Santarsiero. “It isn’t always pretty but at the end of the day he is our most consistent player and will have to duplicate his performance again this year.” Geneva lost three of three of its top five scorers from a year ago to graduation. Other than Lorello, the only other returning top five scorer from last year is senior Keynon Jackson. Jackson, who averaged 11.3 points per game in just 11 games, will join the team for the second semester stretch drive. In the meantime, the Golden Tornadoes will look to the likes of Pat Johnson, Zac Rorick, Trevor York and Jordan Harbison for an offensive lift. Perhaps the biggest lift for a Geneva offense that struggled last year will be the healthy return of senior point guard DJ Damazo. Damazo played in just four games last year because of injury issues but looks to be back on track this season to lead the Golden Tornadoes’ offense. “An experienced point guard in our offense makes all the difference,” says Santarsiero. “DJ gives us a dimension that we just didn’t have last year and he will make everyone on the court a better player.”
Coach Santarsiero has put together one of the largest rosters in recent history. A total of 21 players are listed on the season opening roster with nine freshmen joining the program. “We have a solid core group that is returning for us this year but will need some help from some new faces,” said Santarsiero. “We were not at all satisfied with our results last year and we went out and tried to fill some of those concerns with some new blood. Time will tell as to how much of a contribution we will get from this freshman class.”
Losing basketball games has never been an option for the Geneva College men’s program. Enjoying much success over the years, the Golden Tornadoes and head coach Jeff Santarsiero will do whatever it takes to get themselves back on the PAC map and back into contention for a conference title. “We came up well short of our goals last year,” said Santarsiero. “I am not in the business of making excuses for anything. What we are about is finding ways to get ourselves back into the mix. This is a very committed group of young men that are buying into what we are selling. I don’t think it will take much time to get Geneva basketball back to where it belongs.”
Motivation can be a funny thing in sports. One can never be sure about what motivates players and coaches to succeed. What is for sure is that the 2011-12 season of frustration has done nothing but fuel a fire that was already burning within the Geneva College men’s basketball program. If that motivation continues throughout the season, there just may be a Geneva College wildfire spreading across the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
Of Geneva's 96 full-time faculty members, 76% have earned doctorates.