Thayer tasked with turning around West Mifflin girls basketball
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You'd have to forgive Dan Thayer for the look of confusion he has had during the past couple of weeks.
Thayer is used to taking over a girls basketball program in severe need of repair — with about a week or so in order to put everything in place for the upcoming season. That's how it was at Baldwin and Brentwood.
This time, it couldn't be more different.
Thayer was hired as West Mifflin's girls basketball coach earlier this month. He has a roster full of talented players and seven months to put the pieces in place.
“Yeah, you can say that it has been a lot different,” said Thayer, a 1988 West Mifflin graduate. “The first couple years at Baldwin, we were real bad. It was low numbers, and it was low talent. We were really struggling. Brentwood was sort of the same thing. Those were last minute, and obviously this is different on how it worked out.”
Thayer takes over for Rob Yeschenko, who resigned after leading the Titans to a 20-23 record and two playoff victories. West Mifflin went 10-13 last year and beat Kittanning in a preliminary-round Class AAA game.
“There are some kids returning and in years past, they've had good numbers,” Thayer said. “If we can continue that and build up a consistent amount of kids coming through and playing, it could make it a good situation.”
Thayer, 43, has been successful at his other WPIAL stops. He went 77-60 in six years at Baldwin, including an 8-5 postseason mark and a Class AAAA championship game appearance in 2010. After Baldwin opened his job a year after finishing as Class AAAA runner-up, Thayer took over Brentwood and turned a 1-20 team into a nine-win squad within a year.
Thayer has a 87-93 record in eight WPIAL seasons. He coached three years in North Carolina before moving back to the area.
“I thought it was a pretty good opportunity, so that's what I am here,” Thayer said.
Thayer is scouting his team while it plays in the McKeesport Summer League.
“At this point, we are pretty disorganized just because it has been so quick,” Thayer said. “You have to gauge the team that you have and what are their strengths and weaknesses. You just try to put something together what you think is the best for this group. What we are able to do offensively and defensively is still wide open because we haven't figured out what they can do.”
With four of the five starters returning, including 2012 Daily News Player of the Year point guard Ciara Patterson and three-year starters Taylor Thomas and Paige Flore, the Titans' talent might equal anyone's in Class AAA.
“Right now, it is more observation than anything else.” Thayer said. “It is kind of frustrating to us as coaches because we haven't been able to get a lot done. It has been so many games (in the McKeesport Summer League) and so little chance of doing anything with them, but at least it is giving us a chance to see what is good and bad.”
Thayer said he would love to have the Titans push the ball up the floor and play pressure defense, but he will make that decision as the evaluation process continues.
“We are going to set expectations a certain way and have a set of rules, and that's what everybody is going to follow,” Thayer said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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