Norwin boys showing offensive growth
The Norwin boys basketball team isn't likely to win many shootouts. Averaging a shade over 56 points per game, the Knights ranked sixth in Section 1-AAAA and 21st in Class AAAA at large entering Tuesday.
Looking beyond the numbers, however, members of the team are seeing an offense that is improving at the most important time of the season.
After a 2-5 start that saw them score fewer than 50 points in four games, the Knights (10-8, 4-5 Section 1-AAAA) are putting up points at a healthier pace. Over the past 10 games, Norwin is averaging 59 points per contest and has won eight of 11.
“I like our new offense (with) how we spread the court,” senior Steve Socrates said. “We give our playmakers a chance to make plays and give our shooters a chance to knock down shots. It really works.”
Norwin made some changes to its approach after suffering a four-game losing streak, including an 0-3 start in section play. Coach Lynn Washowich said the Knights are focusing on player and ball movement on offense, trying to get good shots on each possession.
“The coaches are always telling us we come down sometimes and have an eight-second possession,” senior Curtis Perz said. “That's not what we want. We want to take our time and get anywhere from a 35- to 40-second possession, no matter how long it takes. We stress that every possession counts, and we've got to apply that to the game.”
It's an approach the team can forget from time to time, Perz said. The Knights lost two straight section games earlier this month after settling into some old habits.
Norwin recovered to defeat Latrobe, 66-58, last Friday. Socrates made four 3-pointers in the win, and Perz made two during a key 10-0 run in the third quarter.
“I think this game particularly, we really slowed things down,” Perz said. “In the past couple games, we'd come out and fire up shots and before we knew it, the first three minutes we'd be down 10 instead of playing with a lead. When we play with a lead, we're much better than when we play from behind.”
Norwin benefits from a balanced attack offensively. Guards Perz, Socrates and Gage McCracken can shoot well from the outside, while others, such as Zach Bryan and Logan Deri, can score by driving to the basket. Forwards like Alex Haas and Nick Palo can score in the interior.
“We all know our roles,” Deri said. “I know I'm not a great jump shooter. Curt knows he's better at jump shooting than penetrating, so he strives there. We've got Steve, who shoots well. We all play together. (It's) a team effort.”
With three section games remaining, Norwin knows it likely has to win out to make the playoffs with a high-enough seed to avoid Hampton and New Castle, the two top teams in Class AAAA.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Deri said. “This is make or break for us. If we lose another section game, there's a slight chance we're going to make (the playoffs). We need to come out with some fire.”