Guard's return boosts Hempfield's chances of defending title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mike Nauman's sophomore basketball season at Hempfield was a memorable one but for the wrong reasons.
After starting and averaging nine points during the 2010-11 season, injuries prevented the now junior to miss the 2011-12 season. He wasn't alone, as an injury also sidelined current senior Nate Irwin.
Both are back and are looking to help Hempfield — 19-4 in 2011-12 — repeat as Section 1-AAAA champion and earn respect in the WPIAL. The Spartans were soundly beaten by Central Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
“I believe our section is the toughest I've seen since I began here,” said Hempfield coach Jim Nesser, who is beginning his fourth season. “Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Latrobe and Kiski Area are all very good. It's going to be a challenge.
“Having Mike back gives another player who can score, and Nate gives us another solid player.”
Nauman, a 6-foot-3 guard, broke his left wrist while dunking at practice. After missing two months, the day he was cleared to resume practice, he sustained ligament damage in his left ankle.
“It was definitely disappointing missing last year,” Nauman said. “But I used it as a learning experience. I got to see basketball differently as I broke down every game by watching film. If I saw something during a game, I'd tell coach (Nesser) and he'd relay it to the team.
“I'm going to try to be a better teammate and help my teammates anytime I can. It was difficult watching.”
Hempfield is off to a 3-0 start and Nauman is averaging 11 points in wins against Belle Vernon, McKeesport and Penn Hills. The Spartans open section play Friday at Norwin.
Nesser said he likes the way Nauman has returned.
“Missing those games will slow his progress a little,” Nesser said. “You can't get them back. Game experience is important. You can't make them up, but Mike has worked hard and I expect he'll be back up to speed by January. He's already playing well.”
Nauman is more than a scorer who will complement sophomores Kason Harrell and Tony Pilato and three-year starter Tyler Handlan. He's a rebounder, and his defense has improved.
“Mike is a lot stronger and more of an all-around player,” Nesser said. “He's a smart player who's always asking questions.
“We're a different team this year. We have a chance to get more points on the board. Our key is defending and rebounding. If we do that, we'll be successful.”
Hempfield also has strengthened its nonsection schedule. It will play Shaler, Fox Chapel and Central Catholic and play in the Montour tournament.
“If we want to earn respect, we have to be able to defeat teams outside Westmoreland County,” Nauman said. “We have to beat teams from Allegheny County. Those games will give a taste of what to expect in the playoffs.
“We have to play as a team. We could be pretty good as long as we rebound and defend.”
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.
- Griffin takes over Keystone Oaks girls basketball team
- No summer vacation for Mars boys basketball team