Brescia University opened its men's basketball season in a very positive fashion last weekend.
The Bearcats upended both Great Lakes Christian College on Saturday and Lourdes College on Friday night in the Trent Allen Memorial Classic at Spring Arbor, Mich.
The location was close to the old growing up and basketball playing grounds for Brescia coach Joe Pechota.
"It was an hour from home, and it was great to be back home, I got to see lots of friends and family," Pechota said. "We went up there Thursday, went to East Lansing and saw a Michigan State practice. Coach (Tom) Izzo talked to the guys for about 45 minutes. It was great for my young guys to see a practice for a program like that."
The Bearcats were pretty effective in applying what they learned in their preseason practices here.
That was a major plus considering Brescia has seven freshmen, including starting guards Troy Halcomb and Kacy Clemmons.
Those two players fit a pattern for Brescia in that they can play either guard spot, and that versatility can be found with several Bearcats.
"For the first weekend, with seven freshmen on the roster, we did some good things," Pechota said. "We also did some things that were young guy mistakes. But, the sign of a team's ability to improve and grow is how is it going to play in the next game? The good thing about that tournament is you've got 12 hours and you get to tee it up again. We learned a lot from the game we had Friday night."
One major thing the Bearcats learned is how versatile they can be in the scoring column.
Brescia was led by Zac Brown, a freshman from Owensboro High School, with 18 points and seven rebounds against Great Lakes Christian on Saturday. Brown also made 8-of-10 shots from the floor.
Bryce Garrett, a senior from Daviess County, added 10 points, four assists and three steals.
"Zac Brown was efficient in all four areas Saturday," Pechota said. "He was good with his back to basket. In transition, he was out sprinting on the break.
"He was good in pick and pop situations, and he was really good with offensive rebounds. On Friday, he looked like he playing in his first college basketball game."
Halcomb led the Bearcats on Friday night with 17 points in a 71-66 overtime win against
Lourdes. Brett Jackson added 16 points for Brescia.
Halcomb and Jackson were teammates at the powerhouse Warren Central basketball program in Bowling Green.
"When we've had really good teams, we were really balanced with our scoring," Pechota said. "We had four or five guys averaging in double figures. This team has that kind of ability. If we can get maybe even six guys in double figures, we're hard to match up with."
Brescia will be looking to improve that balance tonight when it travels to Cincinnati-Clermont for a 6 p.m. game. It's very early in the basketball season, but Pechota likes how this young team's chemistry has come along so far.
"We were meeting with the guys on Sunday, talking about expanding roles, and that gets them to understand their respionsibility on the floor, makes it easier for them to find their niche," Pechota said. "This group doesn't care who gets the credit. This group isn't hung up on who starts, because they're going to get minutes."
BY MARK MATHIS Messenger-Inquirer