Just ask Wilkes University guard Steve Stravinski how his sophomore season started.
He’ll reply with this: “It started off pretty bad.”
The 2012 Pittston Area graduate started his sophomore season 10-for-40 from three-point land — much to his chagrin. But since then, he and the 5-5 Colonels have found their stride heading into Mid-Atlantic Conference play.
Playing just down the road from his home town, Stravinski hasn’t regretted the decision to continue his playing career for the Colonels. And, to him, it means a lot.
Stravinski said he went to a few Wilkes games growing up and remembers some of the standout players.
“I take it as an honor (playing at Wilkes),” he said. “Obviously, it’s nice playing close to home. Playing for them is pretty exciting. It’s what I always wanted to do.”
In Stravinski’s freshman campaign, he admitted coach Jerry Rickrode used him mainly for threes. But since then, Stravinski has worked hard to improve all aspects of his game.
In the offseasson, the Wilkes guard made it a point to become a solid defender and rebounder. He did just that.
“It’s all about consistency,” he said. “Last year I was kind of all over the place. I was just out there to shoot some threes. After a hard offseason I’m now multi-dimensional. I can rebound and play a little defense more than just shoot.”
In Stravinski’s first season at Wilkes, he played in just 11 games while starting six of them for the Colonels. In those 11 games, Stravinski averaged 17 minutes, 5 points and 2 rebounds per contest.
Now, in his sophomore season, Stravinski is averaging 20 minutes per game and nearly 8 points.
While being a shooting threat for the Colonels, Stravinski has hit a few key shots from deep. One in particular still rings in Stravinski’s mind.
It was one of the more entertaining opening season games of the college basketball year, Wilkes used some timely shooting to capture the W&J Farmers Insurance title in the second game of the season.
The Colonels trailed by as many as 11 to Washington and Jefferson College late in the second half after holding the lead for most of the first stanza. A layup from Mike Resnik gave W&J a 64-53 lead with just 4:42 left in regulation. From there, Wilkes began its furious comeback.
A 15-4 run over the game’s final four minutes of play sent the contest into overtime, but not without some dramatic, clutch shooting from the Colonels. Trailing by four, 68-64, with under a minute to play, Stravinski connected on a deep three-pointer and was fouled on the shot to give Wilkes a chance to tie with the four-point play. Stravinski’s free throw rang through and tied the game at 68 sending the teams into overtime.
Fellow sharpshooter Alec Wiser then hit the game-winner with one second left in overtime to seal the win.
“Alec and I went on a 10-0 run by ourselves,” Stravinski said. “That, by far, was the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Stravinski expects the Colonels to make a push toward a conference title in the coming weeks. In order to do that, he said the team must put a full 40 minutes on the floor, instead of just 20 or 30.
“We have to step up the consistency from game to game,” he said. “We have to put 40 minutes together. If we do that we’ll be pretty good.”
Stravinski was a two-time letter winner at Pittston Area under coach Alan Keisinger. In his senior season, he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was the 2011-12 Wyoming Valley Conference leading scorer and was named a Times Leader All-Star and was named to the WVC first-team.
Currently Stravinski’s major is undecided. He is leaning towards Psychology with a Business minor.
The Colonels played in the Cross-County Challenge this past weekend. On Friday, Stravinski scored a game-high 22 points against Marywood. He hit six threes en route to his seven total field goals.
Down by as many as 17 in the first half and trailing by 15 at halftime, the Pacers staged a dramatic comeback in the second half to stun Wilkes, 61-60 at the Long Center. Shane Letthand’s 18-foot jumper with 6.9 seconds left capped the comeback for Marywood (4-5). Letthand then made a steal at the other end of the floor to prevent Wilkes from attempting a shot.