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Shaler boys building confidence in summer tournaments

| Saturday, July 1, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Shaler coach Rob Neiderberger leads his team against North Hills during a Section 1-6A boys basketball game Jan. 10, 2017, at Shaler.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler coach Rob Neiderberger leads his team against North Hills during a Section 1-6A boys basketball game Jan. 10, 2017, at Shaler.

For the first time in Shaler boys basketball coach Rob Niederberger's three-year tenure, he felt the Titans would benefit from playing more games in the summer.

In the past, seasonal workouts focused more on skill work. They were about making sure everyone could pass, shoot and dribble at the right level.

This summer has been focused on going beyond basics.

Shaler, which made the finals of the St. Joseph tournament last Thursday, has traveled around to find good competition. The Titans, who have played 26 games since May, also played at Penn-Trafford and New Castle.

Shaler, which finished 3-19 last year, had seven juniors on last season's roster.

“We've had a great turnout,” Niederberger said. “Every game we go to, we have 12 to 15 guys. We're getting better. It's obvious we're trying to develop an identity, and we are. It's baby steps from where we were to where we are.”

All of these tournaments provide different challenges. It helps the Titans avoid familiar foes, but provides different challenges. Playing at P-T allowed Shaler to look at the Warriors and Hempfield, which are in Class 6A like Shaler.

“You don't want to play section teams,” Niederberger said. “Being in the toughest section in the WPIAL, you want to challenge yourself and play teams that are going to give you a certain look. At New Castle, we played teams like Farrell and other athletic teams.”

One of the benefits of playing teams with different systems in the summer is Shaler can work on its own plays. No need to come up with a game plan to attack different defenses.

Everything about summer basketball is focused on an inward perspective.

“You aren't worried about scouting,” Niederberger said. “You go out there and play and focus on what you do. During the season, we are worried about scheming for other people and you forget about trying to do better with what you are doing yourself.”

With a foundation already built, Niederberger wants to focus on building confidence.

This year, Niederberger wants to turn moral victories into actual wins.

Playing more games will allow his players to focus on being cohesive.

“They know our scheme,” Niederberger said. “Let's learn how to play together, and we have more depth this year. For the first time in a while at Shaler, we have competition. There are 11-12 guys that can legitimately play. During the regular season, we might not have 12 guys playing in a varsity game.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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