NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Just two days after completing the first undefeated run through the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) regular season in a dozen years, the Bethany College men’s basketball team raked in the honors when the All-PAC teams were announced Monday by the league office.
Leading the parade of BC award winners was head coach Aaron Huffman, who was named the PAC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. Meanwhile, four of his players garnered all-league recognition, including senior forward Matt Drahos (Wheeling, W.Va./John Marshall), who was named the PAC Player of the Year by the coaches of conference.
Joining Matt on First Team was his brother, senior forward Mike Drahos (Wheeling, W.Va./John Marshall), and senior point guard Scott Mezyk (Johnstown, Pa./Westmont-Hilltop). Completing the Bison honorees was junior Chris Stephens (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central), who was named Honorable Mention All-PAC, the first postseason award of his career.
Huffman wins his second straight coaches award after leading Bethany to a 21-4 regular season record and a perfect 12-0 mark in PAC slate. His Bison have stampeded to 16 consecutive victories, the third-longest streak in school history, and have won 22 straight over PAC foes, dating back to last year. The 21 wins marks just the third time in school history the program has won 20 or more games, with two of those years coming under Huffman’s watch. Also, the undefeated PAC run is the first time a school has run the table in league play since Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College did it in 1993-94.
In just his fourth year at the helm of the Green and White, Huffman has posted a record of 74-32. Already the fastest coach in school history to reach 50 wins, he is two wins away from surpassing Jim Dafler (75-56) as the third-winningest coach in Bethany history.
In earning his first PAC Player of the Year honor and third straight First Team selection, Matt Drahos has had an All-American type season. A five-time PAC Player of the Week selection, he leads the PAC and is ninth in the nation in scoring with 23.2 points per game. In addition, Drahos is ranked in the top 10 in the league in four other categories, including second in blocks (1.52) and field goal percentage (58.5), third in rebounding (8.2) and seventh in free throw shooting (76.9).
Matt’s season has seen him break single-game records and has him on the cusp of surpassing career records that have stood for more than four decades. He set a new single-game scoring mark on Jan. 16 with 49 points in a 140-109 triumph at Westminster (Pa.) College, a game that also saw the Bison set the team single-game scoring record. Less than two weeks later in the rematch with Westminster, he tallied 32 points and 26 rebounds to set a new BC single-game record for boards. It was also one of nine double-doubles registered this year by the 6-6 forward, who has 38 for his career.
Career-wise, Matt now stands in third place on the all-time scoring list at the school with 1,872 points, just 19 away from moving past Rudy Yaksich (1,890) for second place. He also has 899 career rebounds, which means Drahos needs just two more to move past Phil Harrison’s record of 900, which he established during his outstanding career from 1960-64.
Joining Matt on First Team for the third straight year is Mike Drahos, who had won the past two Player of the Year awards in the league. What shows how staggering Matt’s numbers have been this year is that Mike’s are nearly as good as they’ve been the past two years when he was recognized by the coaches as the top player in the PAC.
Not only is Mike the PAC leader in rebounding with 9.1 boards per game, he is also ranked in the top 10 in the circuit in six other categories. The 6-5 forward is third in a pair of categories, including assists (3.76) and field goal percentage (57.9). He also stands fourth in free throw shooting (83.2), fifth in scoring (17.5) and three-point accuracy (40.6) and ninth in steals (1.68). Mike also leads the PAC in another category, as his 11 double-doubles are two ahead of his brother on the year and have elevated his career total to 37.
As his final season winds down, Mike is also etching his name high on the Bison career statistical charts. His 1,615 points ranks him fifth all-time, just 52 behind Kevin Kozup (1,667) for fourth place all-time. On the boards, he isn’t far behind his brother, as he’s corralled 850 rebounds in his four years.
This is Mezyk’s second All-PAC accolade, as he was an Honorable Mention selection a year ago. The 5-11 point guard has not only been the PAC’s top playmaker all year, as he leads the conference in assists with 4.2 per game, Mezyk is also the top three-point shooter. Since league action started, Mezyk has knocked down better than 53 percent from the arc and, for the season, his 46.0 percent accuracy (63-137) from downtown is not only a PAC-best, it also ranks him 13th in all of Division III.
Mezyk’s marksmanship from deep has elevated his scoring contribution. He has hit for double figures in 11 consecutive games, including three contests with 20 or more points, and is now averaging 10.0 points per game. His career-high came in a Jan. 14 victory over Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College when he cashed in all eight attempts from three-point land to notch 24 markers in a 100-83 triumph.
As good as his shooting as been recently, the main contribution from Mezyk is still his ball-handling. He has 104 assists this year, giving him his second straight season with triple digits in helpers. He also boasts one of the top assist-turnover ratios in the conference, as Mezyk only has 61 miscues on the year for 1.7 ratio.
The hard-nosed Stephens earned his Honorable Mention selection just as much for his intangibles on the floor as his numbers. His 7.7 points per game are fourth on the team, while he is third on the squad with 3.6 rebounds per game.
The 6-2 guard/forward is also Bethany’s best defender, evidenced by his team-leading 46 steals, which also ties him for fourth in the conference. In addition, Stephens is a solid passer, as he is tied for sixth in the PAC with 3.12 assists per game, and is very efficient offensively, as he is shooting 54.1 percent from the floor for the year, including better than 55 percent in conference contests.
These awards that are given for excellence on the basketball court only tell half the story. All four student-athletes carry GPA’s higher than 3.5 and the three seniors were just recognized by CoSIDA and ESPN the Magazine for their excellence in the classroom. Mezyk, an Elementary Education major, was named Second Team Academic All-District II, while Matt, a Biology/Pre-Med major, and Mike, a Psychology major, were voted to the First Team. That means they are now on the ballot for national Academic All-American honors, with those teams to be announced March 1.
Bethany’s quest for a second consecutive PAC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth continues Thursday when they host a tournament semifinal game against an opponent to be determined. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hummel Field House.