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Norwin boys focusing on 'the little things'

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Logan Deri (center) battles Monessen's Tyler Yuille for a loose ball on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at Franklin Regional High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Alexander Hass rebounds the ball against Monessen's Kayne Jackson on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at Franklin Regional High School.

The Norwin boys basketball team took a long, hard look at itself after a loss to Latrobe on Dec. 20 dropped the Knights to 0-3 in Section 1-AAAA play.

“We were down a little bit,” coach Lynn Washowich said. “Starting 0-3 (in section play) certainly wasn't in our picture. It wasn't something we were looking at, but it happened. ... After the Latrobe game, we really just locked ourselves in the film room. My varsity team never even practiced that day. That's how long we watched film.”

What the Knights saw in their film study of themselves was a team that needed to do the little things better, such as offensive motion, defensive positioning and rebounding.

Since that study, Norwin is putting a greater emphasis on those areas and getting rewarded for its extra work. The Knights defeated Baldwin, 52-51, and Greensburg Salem, 63-56, in nonsection play last week.

Washowich said the biggest two differences in those games were in some of the previous problem areas: movement on offense and rebounding.

“(The early-season trouble) wasn't from lack of effort,” Washowich said. “It wasn't from the kids not trying or playing hard. It was just them not doing things that needed to be done. ... Defensively, we weren't keeping the ball in front of us. We're not in weak-side help. We're in the wrong positions on the floor. And they just had to see it. It was just something you have to see to make yourselves better.”

Though Norwin returned all but two starters from last season's team, Washowich is using more players than in past years. Because of that, the coach said several players needed to adjust to their newer, bigger roles in the early portion of the season.

“Even though they had varsity experience, you're actually being asked to play a different role in the game,” he said. Having the varsity experience is great, but they also have to learn how to play that role. It just took us a little bit longer than we thought for that to happen, but we think it's starting to happen.”

Five different players scored in double figures for the Knights in last week's action: Zach Bryan, Logan Deri, Alex Haas, Curtis Perz and Steve Socrates.

While Norwin didn't picture an 0-3 section start for this season, Washowich believes the Knights have plenty of time to right the ship when section play resumes Jan. 7 against Albert Gallatin. The Knights host McKeesport in another nonsection game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Washowich believes the Knights can still make the postseason because they endured a five-game losing streak — including four straight section defeats — last season and managed to qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. The five teams that beat Norwin this season — Hampton, Franklin Regional, Hempfield, Kiski and Latrobe — also all defeated the Knights in 2012-13.

“We just have to keep getting better at those little things,” he said. “We have to move better on offense, we have to push the ball better in transition, we have to cut harder and we have to keep rebounding the basketball. And if we do those things, we'll be fine.

“ ... We lost the same five games against the same five teams last year, and we told (the current players) that at the end of the season, we ended up being a pretty good team. We just want them to stay calm, stay patient and play hard. They still have the chance to be a really good team.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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