Franklin Regional boys bringing back experience
Franklin Regional boys basketball coach Brad Midgley saw a number of his players' skills jump from last year to now.
Time will tell if the team will experience the same leap.
The Panthers will begin their 2013-14 season next week with several returning players from last season, when the team missed the playoffs after finishing tied for fifth place in Section 2-AAAA. Because many of the players last year were first-year varsity members, Midgley said they grew over the season and offseason.
“We probably have seven, maybe even eight, guys that started a couple games for us last year when we went through some injuries in the middle part of the year,” Midgley said. “A lot of guys got put into the fire and got experience. Everyone should be comfortable going into the year because of the experience they got. You never know, but hopefully it leads to good things for us.”
Franklin Regional's biggest improvement from 2012-13 to now could come on the interior. Last season, the Panthers often started four guards and rotated one player on the inside because of inexperience.
This year, Midgley can turn to four players on the inside: seniors Devin Arrigo, George Brown and Matt Fisch and sophomore Todd Summers.
“We were so guard-oriented last year that a lot of games, it came down to us shooting a lot of 3s,” Midgley said. “If we weren't hitting our shot, we were putting ourselves in a tough position. I definitely wanted to make sure we were more balanced this year, and I do see some progress with that from guys getting stronger, working on post moves and working on sealing guys.
“We have that threat this year where we can pound the ball into the post if we need to, but at the same time we have the experience with the guards (that) we can make plays on the perimeter, too.”
On the outside, Franklin Regional returns four key players in seniors Tyler Hamilton, Matt Renzi and Charan Singh and junior Jake Roberge.
Midgley said all four specialize in specific areas, with Hamilton and Roberge as slashers, Renzi as a 3-point shooter and Singh a midrange threat.
“All four guys could be the guy for you, but they all bring something a little different to the table,” Midgley said. “... There's going to be nights where we need one more than the other, but then the next night we need someone else more than the other. It's nice to have four guys that are playing three positions and know that each one of them could go off on any given night.”
Franklin Regional will compete alongside Fox Chapel, Gateway, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Plum and Woodland Hills for one of four playoff spots.
“I've been in this section for a few years now, and it seems like no matter who's up or who's down it's always a close game in the end,” Midgley said. “Hopefully, from we learned last year and having some experience back we can learn to win those close games. We lost a lot of them early last year.”
The Panthers will begin the season at the Upper St. Clair Tip-off Tournament Dec. 6 and 7 before hosting the Rettger Memorial Tournament on Dec. 10 and 11. Section play begins with a game at Central Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13.
“These guys know that each and every game can be different,” Midgley said. “It's easy just to throw a number out there or an expectation to have. We're really going to try to take it slow, one step at a time, and make sure that whatever little tournament we're in or whatever home game we're playing that particular night, we want to make sure we play well that particular night and kind of let the whole role play out at the end.”