Graduation took heavy toll on St. Joseph boys team
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Usually by this time of year, St. Joseph boys basketball coach Kelly Robinson has a good handle on which of his players will be starting or contributing off the bench.
However, Robinson entered his 15th season at the Catholic school in Natrona Heights in an unfamiliar situation.
After a large group of productive seniors graduated, St. Joseph was left with less overall varsity experience than any of Robinson's previous squads had welcomed back.
The Spartans will be guided by two returning starters — senior guard John Arcuri and junior guard Chris Gamble. After them, 10 or more players with little or no varsity minutes could be called upon.
And Robinson said because so many of his players are similar in skills and talent, he's considering regularly employing five-for-five substitutions.
“I think we'll go through some growing pains,” Robinson said. “That doesn't mean we can't have success. It will be based on how quickly the inexperienced players develop.”
Arcuri (16.0 points per game) finished as the second-leading scorer for a team that earned a WPIAL playoff berth and finished 11-11 overall and 6-4 in Section 4-A last season.
Arcuri will be used at point guard and shooting guard. He'll be counted on even more for leadership and scoring following the graduation of Mike Connelly, who averaged 22.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Connelly is a freshman at Division III Pitt-Greensburg.
“John is our mainstay,” Robinson said. “He's the one with the most varsity experience.”
Gamble and senior guard Nick Chepkevich also probably will slide between point guard and shooting guard in Robinson's “point-guard-by-committee” system this season.
Sam Predebon, a 6-foot-7 senior center, could make a big impact. However, he's a relative newcomer to varsity, and his progress during the offseason was slowed by an ankle injury.
Robinson declined to single out any other players and added, “We have a slew of underclassmen that could see quality minutes.”
St. Joseph's Section 4-A home also underwent a major facelift during the offseason.
Last season, St. Joseph took on Clairton, Elderton, Geibel, Leechburg and Serra Catholic in section play. Following the PIAA's biennial realignment, only St. Joseph and Leechburg remain in Section 4-A, while perennial powerhouses Clairton and Serra Catholic are among the teams that moved.
This season, St. Joseph and Leechburg have been joined by Imani Christian, Trinity Christian, Wilkinsburg and Winchester Thurston. Imani and Winchester Thurston are first-year WPIAL members.
Imani was placed on probation by the WPIAL for violating PIAA rules and isn't eligible to make the playoffs in its first two seasons. If Imani places among the top four teams in Section 4-A, the fifth-place squad will take its spot in the postseason.
“I really enjoyed the last few years in that section,” Robinson said. “I almost wished it had stayed the same. Imani probably will be head and shoulders above the other teams in our section, and Wilkinsburg looks to be next in line.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-224-2696.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless mom accused of drowning sons in tub to stand trial
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Phipps executive director wins award for green building
- Pittsburgh singer Lee spreads love through music, charitable works
- Police: No evidence of gunshot at Walter Reed hospital
- West Kittanning fire leaves man homeless
- Alle-Kiski farmers: Crops weather heavy rain
- McIlroy, world’s No. 1 golfer, injures ankle playing soccer
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei touts Pittsburgh’s Italian heritage