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New coach, new conference for Seton Hill women's basketball

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Seton Hill University's Katie Gattuso participates in a free throw drill during practice on October 16, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Seton Hill University women's basketball coach Mark Katarski speaks to his team during practice on October 16, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Seton Hill University's Tiara Stossel (left) is guarded by Jharrin Gill during a practice drill on October 16, 2013.

There is something new about the Seton Hill women's basketball program in 2013-14.

First, the Griffins have a new coach in Mark Katarski, a former Chatham University coach and Niagara University assistant.

Then there is a new conference. The Griffins moved from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to the tougher Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

And with a new coach and conference comes a change in philosophy and system.

The Griffins will try to build on the success they had under Ferne Labati, who retired after last season.

For Katarski, a Mt. Pleasant graduate and native, he's ready to take on a new challenge.

He's blessed with the return of eight letterwinners, including four starters from a team that finished 19-13 and lost in the WVIAC finals.

Heading that list is senior forward and all-American Katie Gattuso, who averaged 17.9 points per game, and senior guard Paige Alviani, who averaged 15.6 per game. The other starters are senior guard Tiara Stossel and junior forward Mallory Sanner, the school's first NCAA National Championship (javelin).

“This team did two things in 2012-13,” Katarski said. “They finished second in the country in team grade-point average, which shows they are committed on and off the court. And they lost in the championship game of the WVIAC. They understand how to win and what it takes to win.

“We've leaned on all eight players. They set a great example for the new players. They set the tempo for us.”

Katarski is aware of the newest challenge that surrounds the program.

“The newness of the conference is something to be cognizant of, and we're new to the players and they're new to us,” Katarski said. “My hats are off to the players. They've been open and receptive.

“We've disagreed on some stuff and agreed on others. And we've agreed to disagree on other things. They've been very good about the process. We don't feel we're new to each other now.”

The toughness of the conference is something Katarski and his players must learn about quickly. The PSAC West had four teams make the NCAA Division II tournament.

“Anybody in D-II sports knows how good the PSAC is, especially in the West,” Katarski said. “We understand that, but it's about every day, every game and let's get better at practice. We can only worry about the game in front of us.”

Katarski will find out about his team Nov. 2 when they take on Miami (Ohio) in an exhibition game.

“It should be a good experience and see where we're at,” Katarski said. “It should be fun.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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