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Southmoreland boys lack experience, not work ethic

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:04 a.m.
Ben Niemiec and the Scotties hope to gain valuable varsity experience this season. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

When the Southmoreland boys basketball team takes the floor this season, there won't be many familiar faces from last season's team that finished 14-7 and qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

The Scotties were hit hard by graduation. Southmoreland lost nine players to graduation, including all five starters and the top seven offensive contributors.

“We scored 1,205 points last year, and of those 1,205 points, we have 25 points coming back,” fourth-year coach Frank Muccino said. “We're young, and we lack varsity experience, but these kids are workers. There is no belly-aching or complaining. They work hard.”

This year's roster is composed of 20 players, many of whom are underclassmen.

“We lack experience playing under the bright lights, but the ability is there,” Muccino said. “It just has to be seasoned.”

The only way to get that seasoning will be to go through the rigors of the schedule.

Senior guard Zac Black and senior forward Randy Ohler are expected to log a lot of minutes and set examples for younger players.

“Zac has all the ability in the world, and he is gaining confidence and getting comfortable playing,” Muccino said. “He can shoot the ball and handle it well. He has some skill. Randy is very athletic, and he can really help us.”

Junior guard Jake Porter and junior forward Mike Mucha also are expected to contribute. Sophomore guards Tyler Livengood and Zach Stefan, as well as sophomore forward Ben Niemiec, could have impacts as well. And Muccino is optimistic that most, if not all, of the players will step up during the season.

“We have some sleepers that are catching our eye,” Muccino said. “I'm excited about this group. They are fun to coach.”

With such a young team, Muccino won't base success solely on the record.

“To me, it is about building and getting experience and learning so that we continue to get better,” Muccino said. “If we do these things, success will follow.”

Aside from a lack of experience, another problem young teams encounter is a lack of strength.

“There is a big difference in strength between a sophomore and a senior,” Muccino said. “But as a program, we're trending upward. It's the hard work that we are putting in this year that will pay off down the road.”

Black, one of just three seniors on the roster, is excited to be a part of the building process.

“We're not messing around,” Black said. “We're working hard. We're inexperienced, but we're growing as a team.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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