Schenley eases into new era
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Schenley guard DeAndre Kane is feeling the pressure.
The Spartans (8-1, 5-0) lost to graduation two players who are starting in the Big East. Longtime coach Fred Skrocki resigned after Schenley won the City League and PIAA Class AAAA championship last year. With talk of the school closing at the end of the year, this could be the last season for Spartans basketball.
As a result, Kane feels the need to step up in the absence of Pitt center DeJuan Blair and St. John's guard/forward D.J. Kennedy, provide leadership for new coach Kevin Reid and leave a lasting impression on the program.
"It's harder this year because (Blair and Kennedy) took a lot of pressure off of me last year," Kane said. "Now I have to rebound and I have a lot different roles. I have to do a lot more things. It revolves around me now."
Kane, a Duquesne recruit, averaged 14.3 points per game last year as Schenley's third-leading scorer. Senior guard Greg Blair, the only other returning starter, has plenty of leadership to offer the lesser experienced players such as senior point guard Myles Porter, junior forward Jake Fine and junior guard Embry Williams, who are among the starting five.
"Those other guys look up to DeAndre and Greg because of the fact that they've won a state championship and have been major players when it's crunch time," Reid said. "We know who to go to.
"We have some young guys who are out to prove themselves. They can play, but haven't had the opportunity because Schenley had such a strong team last year. They are out to prove Schenley was more than just the big three that they had last year. We are going to have to play team basketball because we are not going to have the blowouts like last year. We're going to have to fight, scrap, bite and claw our way through every game."
After serving as the head coach at Westinghouse the past four years, Reid replaced Skrocki, who now coaches at Butler County Community College. Reid is no stranger to Schenley, though; he has been a history teacher at the school since 1999.
After going winless against Schenley the past four seasons, Reid is happy to be coaching the Spartans, rather than playing against them.
"They're a great bunch of guys," he said. "I see them in hallways and get a chance to know them a little more. Being in the building adds a whole new dynamic."
Taking over as coach of the reigning City League and PIAA champs is no easy task, Reid said, especially considering the obstacles Schenley must overcome this season.
"We talk about challenges," Reid said. "We have several challenges. One is: Can we repeat as City League champions• Can we overcome challenges of losing such great players like DeJuan, Onion [Jamaal Bryant] and D.J.• Another challenge is the new roles that the two returning starters have to play, taking more of a leadership role. Another one is thinking about whether or not the school is going to close next year. We use all of that as motivation."
So how does Schenley approach the idea that this could be its last season?
"We're going to handle this season as though we're going to be here forever," Reid said. "Until they close the doors and lock us out, we are going to be Schenley basketball."
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