Riverview players showing determination to turn program around
It didn't take long for new Riverview boys basketball coach Joe Farrell to notice his team's determination.
With a two-season playoff drought — and a string of losing seasons that dates back to 2006-07 — the Raiders are eager to turn around their fortunes in 2014-15.
“I absolutely feel that (hunger),” Farrell said. “I feel it from the seventh grade on up. I feel it all the way throughout the system that they were looking for a change, just something new, something different.”
Farrell joined Riverview in June after five seasons as an assistant at Fox Chapel. He replaced Kevin Krajca, who led the Raiders to three playoff appearances in 12 seasons.
In Riverview, Farrell met a team that was “determined, hungry and ready to learn.”
“They're willing to gather a lot of knowledge,” Farrell said. “Practices have been very, very informative for the kids. (We're) trying to put in a new system from what they previously had. The changeover has gone very well so far.”
Farrell coached defense at Fox Chapel, and he expects to emphasize the same concepts at Riverview.
“Our brand of basketball is going to be hard defense (and) controlling the boards,” he said. “We've got a couple of big guys inside, and we're going to try to work it in to kick it out.”
Although Riverview lost four of its top five leading scorers from last season, junior forward Paul Knapp returns as a key player on the inside. Knapp averaged 9.1 points per game as a junior.
Senior Ray Robair (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) will team with Knapp on the inside after transferring from Penn Hills. Robair is coming back from knee surgery after football season.
“(Knapp) seems to be one that everybody rallies around,” Farrell said. “Ray's also a senior, so I look to get some leadership out of him.”
Farrell said Knapp and Robair can also play on the wing. Senior Jacob Massack can also play on the interior.
On the outside, Riverview will look to senior Shyran Glover, junior Ben Lazor and sophomore Nico Sero.
After spending previous seasons in Class AA, Riverview dropped to Class A this season. The Raiders will compete in Section 2-A with Aquinas Academy, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Leechburg, St. Joseph, Springdale and Vincentian. The Raiders will open the season at the Ford City Tip-off Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
“(They have) a determination for turning the program around,” Farrell said. “I believe that (we have to) play as a team. We might play five guys on the floor, but the whole building of the program is everybody's included. Nobody will be left out.”