Friday, March 5, 2010

Thinking out loud

A few random, deep thoughts ...

The WPIAL Class AA championship will be decided Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center. Defending champion and top seed North Catholic faces Rochester, the No. 7 seed and a team attempting to win its first WPIAL basketball title since claiming the 1983 Class A crown.

Did anyone envision this matchup at the start of the season? Anyone?

After watching several of the top teams in Class AA – the most competitive in the district – the past two weeks, I've come to the conclusion that the seedings were way off.

Sure, North Catholic deserved to be No. 1 and expect the Trojans to win back-to-back titles. They're the best passing team I've seen this year. After that, I think the majority of the top seeds were misplaced.

My take on the top eight seeds is:
1. North Catholic;
2. Washington;
3. Rochester;
4. South Fayette;
5. Shady Side Academy;
6. Freeport;
7. Greensburg Central Catholic;
8. Beaver Falls.

* Why Washington at No. 2? Well, the Prexies had every chance to beat North Catholic in the quarterfinals.

* Washington can be a tough team to figure out. One night the Prexies struggle to protect the basketball, the other they look like the best Class AA team on this side of the state.

They are times when Washington gets caught up playing selfish offensive basketball. It happened in the first round against Freeport and the Prexies' season came close to ending. Wash High is at its best when the offense runs through Troy Wilson first. When it does, the shot selection is better, the rebounding is sounder and turnovers are fewer.

* There's been some discussion about this year's Boys Basketball Player of the Year, as selected by the Observer-Reporter.

To me, two players have stood out - Peters Township's Craig Wolcott and Trinity's Josh Valentic (pictured). Each are the focal point of opposing defenses every game yet both put up great numbers in completely different fashions. Both are also tireless workers on both ends of the court.

What gets overlooked in these discussions is performance in big games. It's easy to put up numbers and look flashy against the Sisters of the Poor. Playing well in big games goes a long way in determining the Player of the Year.

* Speaking of honors, who gets selected as the Tri-County Athletic Directors' Association boys and girls basketball coaches of the year?

Not sure who the local coaches will choose, but, to me, the finalists should include Peters Township boys coach Gary Goga and first-year girls coaches Kyra Kaylor of Peters Township and Gina Naccarato of Monessen. Chartiers-Houston girls coach Veronica Sansom also deserves strong consideration.

* One challenge for the next boys basketball coach at Chartiers-Houston will be getting more of the school's top athletes out for the sport. That's not going to be an easy task.

The Bucs certainly made strides at the Class AA level, particularly on the defensive end, for coach Jerry Cypher, who recently resigned with plans to join his son Brendan's staff at Burgettstown. Where Chartiers-Houston struggled to match up with Washington, Monessen and Burgettstown was in athleticism.

That's not saying the Bucs lacked athletes, but more top athletes at Chartiers-Houston wrestle or prepare for baseball than the other three schools.

* The PIAA playoffs don't start until next week but I'm already looking forward to the Class AA second round.

If North Catholic wins the WPIAL and South Fayette and Washington win their respective first-round games, the Lions and Prexies meet in the second round on Wednesday, March 17.


Anonymous said...

As for the coach of the year in girls I'd say Coach Naccarato did a great job with four sophomore starters and a freshman. Won a section, had just one bad loss and went to semis. . . Also to consider as finalists, the coaches at PT, Fort Cherry and Beth-Center.

As for boys: Joe Dunn (THS), Gaither (WHS), the guy at Laurel Highlands, Bob Kennedy (Bent) and Bonnaure (SF), although I think they have underachieved to this point.

Anonymous said...

I pick Gaither. Everyone thought he was going to fail and he did not. People thought it was possibe for Wash High to win a section title, but everyone had his or her money on Monessen or Burgettstown.

mike_kovak said...

Good point Anon. While I disagree that everyone picked Monessen or Burgettstown to win Section 5-AA, a lot of people thought Washington would take a step back this year.

That is not the case.

To the first post, all candidates mentioned are worthy.

prexie said...

I agree 100% mike. Wash High doesnt have the shooters to be selfish.they have great offensive rebounders but you cant rely on that. i also think they will get eaten alive if they stay in man defense against these better teams.

mike_kovak said...

Good call Prexie.

The rare occasions I saw Wash High play zone, it looked quite effective.