UP, UP AND AWAY — Gettysburg College’s Nick Antolini soars over an opponent while driving to the basket during a home game last season. Antolini returns for the Bullets, who will be led by first-year head coach B.J. Dunne following the retirement of George Petrie.

This season marks the beginning of a new era for the Gettysburg College men’s basketball team. B.J. Dunne is the new head coach as he takes over for the longest-tenured and all-time winningest coach George Petrie, who retired at the end of last year’s academic calendar.

Dunne may be new to the working environment at Gettysburg, but he is no stranger to the college. His wife, Megan Moore ‘08, was a former standout student-athlete who competed on the women’s lacrosse team for four years. Dunne has only been on the job for the past several months, but when asked about his time at Gettysburg he gave nothing but praise.

“I am loving it so far,” said Dunne. “Gettysburg has always been a special place for my family. My wife, Megan, had an invaluable student-athlete experience here. To be able to work at a place that meant so much to her and to be around people every day that really influenced her life, is really special for me.”

“I think everybody is real genuine and intent on giving their best,” he continued. “The staff at Gettysburg goes out of their way to make sure that our student-athletes feel valued, supported, and can compete at the highest level and that is a major philosophy of our program.”

A philosophy that Dunne focuses on is knowing that every player is of value and should be treated as such.

“My philosophies revolve solely around people and making sure that our players feel valued every day,” noted Dunne. “We have two signs in our locker room. One reads, “Our greatest competitive advantage is our people” and the other reads, “We win with people.” It is important that we build an open and honest environment around trust, respect, and belief.”

Dunne went on to mention that, “It is all about the student-athlete development and making sure that they are supported in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities. When it comes to playing on the floor, that they feel supported and gain confidence from our coaching staff. We not only want to make them better basketball players, but better individuals as well. It will be imperative to our program that we will graduate student-athletes who represent Gettysburg and the community in a manner in which we can all be proud.”

Dunne officially started in April, and once he stepped foot on campus, it was go time. The team had seven days of practice before embarking on a trip to Italy to play against Italian basketball teams and visiting local sites. It was during this time that coach was able to build a connection with the players.

“It was a wonderful opportunity,” commented Dunne. “It was great from a basketball perspective because it really showed the guys how we are going to play. More importantly, from a cultural perspective it gave me the opportunity to build close relationships, develop trust, and feeling more comfortable with our guys.”

As far as goals and expectations go for the Bullets this season, the team is looking to get better every day.

“Our number one goal is to outwork yesterday,” quoted Dunne. “If we can be better than we were yesterday, I think we are going to be pretty successful.” According to Dunne, making it into the postseason is a goal that the whole team wants to achieve. “Everyone in our locker room will tell you that we want to make it to the Centennial Conference tournament, but with that goal comes accountability, ownership, and recognizing that we need to improve daily.”

A new chapter means a new beginning, and for Dunne, he is ready to build a culture of excellence.

“We are building a culture that our guys call a lasting legacy,” noted Dunne. “It is an opportunity for us to take the blueprint of the success and tradition of the program and add our own little magic to it. We want to sustain a competitive environment of excellence in our men’s basketball program.”

The Bullets return 12 players from last season’s squad and bring in four first-timers.

Gettysburg will provide plenty of experience in the backcourt, as they return three players who started in 19 games or more last season in juniors Danny Duffey, Nick Lord and Nick Antolini.

Duffey started in all but one game last season as the point guard. A great facilitator who sees the floor really well, led the team with 95 assists, while contributing 6.0 points per game and adding 25 steals. Lord, who started in 19 of the 25 games, is a sharpshooter with great range as he knocked down 35 three-pointers, averaged 8.8 points per game while shooting a team-best 81.4 percent from the free throw line. Antolini also saw action in 25 games and started in 20, who can score from any angle, drilled a team-high 38 three-pointers and accumulated 10.7 points per game. He is also an elite defender as he tallied a team-best 32 steals and grabbed 117 rebounds.

Also returning at guard are senior co-captain Alec Warren, sophomore Chris Jack, senior co-captain Matt Palacio and sophomore Danny Bomberger.

Warren provides the team with additional outside shooting after corralling 47 three-pointers in 19 games last season. Jack will look to make a more significant impact after playing in 22 games, with one start, scored 54 points last season. Palacio and Bomberger will also push for increased playing time.

In the frontcourt, the Bullets lost two of their top scorers from a season ago. However, Gettysburg brings back sophomore Avery Close and senior co-captain Luke Cooper. Avery, who can post up and shoot from the perimeter, played in 22 games, made 43.1 percentage of his shots from the field, and scored 60 points. Cooper appeared in 25 games and started 16, averaged 7.2 points per game, went 72-of-136 from the field (52.9 percent), and snagged 97 rebounds.

Other returning post players are sophomores Ewan Lancaster, Evan Czulada and junior Churon Lanier-Martin will all look to make an impact for the squad.

Three freshmen and a transfer will look to contribute to the Bullets roster right away this season, including freshmen Jack Rooney, Joey Talocka, Austin Hokanson and junior transfer Andrew Gardiner.

The Bullets open the season on the road this weekend as they participate in the Penn State Harrisburg Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Gettysburg will take on the hosts on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first round before taking on another team, that is to be determined, in the consolation or championship game at 1 or 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Bullets will play their first two home games of the season at their 28th annual Gettysburg Tip-Off Tournament next Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17. The Bullets’ Centennial Conference opener is set for Tuesday, Nov. 20 at home versus Franklin & Marshall College starting at 7 p.m.

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