WILKES-BARRE – By watching the way J.P. Andrejko walked off the court after a 27-point victory over Penn State Wilkes-Barre, hardly would you know the King’s College head coach had just accomplished something special.
It was simple handshakes, a few thank you’s from well-wishers and a brief chat with his Monarchs in the locker room before addressing the media.
It seemed like another King’s victory, but this one was definitely different. This one was a major milestone as Andrejko became the winningest all-time coach in King’s men’s basketball history in a non-conference 87-60 victory over the Lions.
Led by 27 points from captain Kyle Hammonds, King’s jumped out an 11-2 lead and never looked back before pulling away in the second half.
This day was about Andrejko, who picked up victory No. 202 – which sent him past Ed Donohue, who had a career record of 201-172 in 15 seasons at King’s.
“I’m grateful that King’s gave me an opportunity to do this,” the head coach said. “Not many people get to do what they love for a profession, and I do. The other thing is that I’m lucky. I had great players and great coaches over the years. It’s just been a fun experience. I hope the next couple of hundred are just as fun.”
Andrejko, who tied the record in a 96-82 win at Muhlenberg on Monday night, is in his 13th season at King’s and came to the school after Jim Casciano stepped down following the 2000-01 season.
His career record now stands at 202-130.
“No one understands how difficult this job is, I’ll be honest with you,” Andrejko said. “People think that coaching in Division III is a simple thing and an easy thing. It’s a challenging job, and we have a ton of people at this level that do an outstanding job at it. It’s just nice when anyone does anything that gets recognized. At our level, it’s about the student-athlete and nothing else. We do it because we love it.”
The University of Scranton graduate has been successful in his stint with the Monarchs. He led King’s to eight Freedom Conference tournament berths with championships in 2005, 2007 and 2008, and a spot in the NCAA Elite Eight in 2005.
“I pretty much remember all the wins, and the losses, I try to forget about real quickly,” he said. “You look back, and you have special teams and special games that stick out, the NCAA games, that are really big moments. For me, the bigger part is the relationships you build. One of the things that we are fortunate about is we had great people play for us, not only when they are here, but when they graduate and come back. It’s been fun.”
And if you thought the coach would prepare his Monarchs any differently for yesterday’s game, you would be wrong.
No mention of the record. No talk about the milestone. The focus squarely on the team.
“If you look at our team, I don’t care about our record,” Andrejko said. “I care about the development of our players. I see a team that’s coming together and developing, and I see two seniors playing really good basketball. The wins come and go. Everyone wants to talk about the wins, but there are a million factors that go into them. When you look at the entire scope of the program, that’s what you focus on. There are nights where you win, and nights when you lose. I like what our team is doing, and I think we are going to get better.”
When the ball was tipped off, the talk of the record was set aside. King’s jumped out to an 11-2 lead, and used a 14-8 run to close the first half for a 39-28 advantage.
The Monarchs started the second half on a 12-4 spurt to extend the lead to 51-32 with 15 minutes left.
“When you get on the court, you just play,” Hammond said. “You know that nothing else matters. You know you have four other guys that have your back, and you just focus on playing defense and making baskets. Today was huge because we were coming off a big win against Muhlenberg, and it was great to home. It’s been almost a full month since we’ve had a home game. We knew that we had to execute.”
King’s College 87, Penn State Wilkes-Barre 60
PSU WILKES-BARRE (60) — Keith Johnson 7 2-3 21, Kenneth Randall 1 0-0 2, Denzel Mensah 0 0-4 0, Kendric Wiggins 2 1-2 5, Nicholas Valenti 0 0-0 0, Greg Cooper 0 0-0 0, AJ Jones 3 0-0 6, Robert Heft 1 0-0 3, Emmanuel Young 1 2-9 4, Austin Walker 2 0-0 5, William Dankwah 2 0-0 5, Drew Walker 3 0-0 9, Devon Mazonkey 0 0-0 0, Jordan Adams 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 5-19 60.
KING’S (87) — Alex Cardoza 0 0-0 0, Joe Caffrey 3 6-6 13, Kyle Hammonds 12 2-3 27, Tom Heston 3 1-5 7, Dan Rutecki 8 5-7 21, Nate Oliver 0 0-0 0, Rich Douglas 0 0-0 0, Connor Hughes 0 3-4 3, Tim O’Shea 0 0-0 0, Mike Foster 0 0-0 0, John Dini 0 0-0 0, Dalton Eli 0 0-0 0, Connor Dunn 1 0-0 2, Ryan McGoff 0 0-0 0, Pat O’Donnell 1 1-1 3, Christian Skrepenak 3 1-2 7, Derek Wilkins 1 2-2 4. Totals 32 21-30 87.
Halftime —King’s 39-28. Three-point field goals — PSUWB 11 (Johnson 5, D. Walker 3, Heft 1, A. Walker 1, Dankwah 1), KING 2 (Caffrey 1, Hammonds 1).