Geibel boys basketball starting over with new coach, new lineup

| Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

The Geibel boys basketball team has plenty of new faces heading into the upcoming season.

The Gators are under the direction of first-year coach Bill Hughes. This is the first head-coaching position for Hughes, who has 11 years of coaching experience in the Belle Vernon and Charleroi school districts.

For Hughes, the challenge will be building the Gators, who are coming of a 3-16 season, from the ground up.

“It's as much about me getting to know them as it is them getting to know me,” Hughes said. “I want to build around their strengths.”

The first strength Hughes has identified is the work ethic of the team.

“We're young, and we're hard-working,” Hughes said.

Hughes will be tasked with finding a completely new starting lineup, thanks to the loss of graduates Aaron Agostoni, Tyler Schweiss, Ryan Robson, Martin Berish and Jake Ciaccia.

The Gators will compete in Section 3-A and will begin the season by hosting West Greene in the Geibel Tip-off Tournament on Dec. 6.

Hughes, who has replaced Ed Kroupa, likes the challenge of building the program from scratch.

“I love the fact that the team is so young, and they want to learn,” Hughes said.

Sophomore Kyle Toth saw action on the varsity team last year, and his ability to play guard and forward should be an asset. Senior guard Tucker Bocan and junior guard James Ewing will play a lot of minutes, as will sophomore center Bailey Miller. Juniors Matt Mammarella and Brent Plisko and senior Brandon Kushnar will see time at forward positions. Ewing, Mammarella, Plisko and Toth are returning lettermen.

No matter who is in the starting lineup, everyone will have to be multi-dimensional.

“I want position flexibility,” Hughes said. “I want the big guys to be able to dribble, and I want the guards to be able to hit the boards.”

Hughes pointed out that many of the players have played together before and have had success in the past.

“They were successful last year at JV, and they have played together,” Hughes said. “These guys are tight, and I like having that family atmosphere. We're a family for the next two and a half months.”

At the end of those two and a half months, Hughes hopes, the team will have accomplished its goals.

“The goal is to make the playoffs,” Hughes said. “A few people have said it will be a rough season, but I'm not coming in with that mindset. We want to improve, and the playoffs are absolutely the goal.”

The players seem to like that the bar is set high.

“Our expectations are higher than they were last year,” Toth said. “We have a strong defense and good heart, and our intensity is high. We're in the process of building, and it's exciting.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at

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