Pitt-Johnstown's Grubbs on target
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Pat Grubbs was not a can't-miss college basketball prospect as a senior at Serra Catholic High School.
He wasn't even certain he was going to play basketball in college.
These days Grubbs is a doesn't-miss-very-often center for the Pitt-Johnstown basketball team.
A 6-foot-8, 280-pound junior, he led the NCAA Division II statistics in field-goal shooting percentage last season, making 66.3 percent (191 of 288) shots in averaging 16.3 points per game.
This season, he is fifth in the Division II ranks in field-goal percentage at .682 and is averaging 18.3 points per game for the Mountain Cats (16-9). Grubbs is also 37th in Division II in rebounding at 8.7 per game.
OK, so Grubbs doesn't take any shots from outside the 3-point line. Heck, he rarely takes a shot from 10 feet away from the basket. But he usually has at least one and often two defenders draped all over him when he shoots.
"It's something to be proud of," Grubbs said of his shooting percentage. "My teammates do a great job of getting me the ball in a good shooting position."
Grubbs, a Turtle Creek resident, has worked hard at making sure he puts the ball in the basket when he gets it. One of his better moves is to fake as if he is going to shoot with his right hand and then shoot with his left.
Having a big body helps, although he would like to have less of a big body.
His weight is back up this season after he slimmed down to about 260 pounds last season. But he broke his right foot in a summer league game and was on crutches for four months.
"I was at about 320 [pounds] in high school but I lost a lot of that," Grubbs said. "But I put some weight back on because I couldn't do anything when I had the broken foot. I was used to exercising and playing ball all the time, but I didn't get off the crutches until the end of October."
Which makes what he is doing this season that much more outstanding.
Pitt-Johnstown closes out the regular season at 4 p.m. today at Seton Hill University in Greensburg. The West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament begins Tuesday.
After helping Serra to the PIAA Class A championship football game as a senior, Grubbs thought about playing that sport in college. He was a two-year starter as a lineman at Serra.
A visit to Pitt-Johnstown and a talk with coach Bob Rukavina changed his mind.
"I was thinking about playing football, but I liked playing basketball," Grubbs said. "I liked Pitt-Johnstown and the coaches here."
It didn't hurt that he was able to step into a spot in the starting lineup as a freshman. He averaged 10.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a game his first season with the Mountain Cats.
His goal this season is to help Pitt-Johnstown reach the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Mountain Cats were in the playoffs his freshman year.
"That was just such a great time. I hope we can get back there again this season," he said.
Grubbs isn't the only WPIAL player on the Pitt-Johnstown roster who has a high national ranking. Teammate Nick Novak, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Franklin Regional High School, is 10th in Division II in free-throw shooting percentage at .899 (116 for 129). He is also 22nd in assists per game at 5.3. Novak is averaging 18.5 points per game for Pitt-Johnstown.
Also helping the Mountain Cats is Bill Luther, a 6-7 freshman from Hampton High School. He has started 24 of 25 games and is averaging 11.1 points per game.
The Edinboro University women's basketball team is 22-3 overall, 12-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division going into its regular-season finale today at Slippery Rock.
The Fighting Scots are ranked No. 23 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Division II poll and No. 1 in the Atlantic Region rankings.
Edinboro's probable starters for the game today are all WPIAL products. The team's leading scorer at 11.7 points per game is Kiara Brown, a 5-7 sophomore from Ambridge. Also expected to be in the starting lineup are Micki Cerchiaro, a 5-11 junior who played at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Darche Jackson, a 5-6 redshirt freshman from Penn Hills; Laurel Lindsay, a 5-11 freshman from South Park; and Renee Brown, a 5-11 junior who played at Mount Alvernia and is averaging 11.3 ppg
Bethany (20-7) will play at Thiel (20-6) for the Presidents' Athletic Conference men's basketball title at 7 p.m. today. Bethany is going after its 14th PAC men's title.
The Slippery Rock University baseball team is 4-0 and is ranked nationally. The Rock is No. 19 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll and No. 22 in the American baseball Coaches Association poll.
First Published February 26, 2011 12:00 am