Pitt-Greensburg women’s basketball ‘locked-in’ this season
Whatever the outcome, the Pitt-Greensburg women’s basketball team will do it together.
Win, lose or draw in regulation, UPG’s team-oriented approach won’t be compromised, said coach Hayley Schaetzle, a fiercely loyal and young mentor to the Bobcats players, many of whom were recruited by former coach Erin Eaton.
“We’re incredibly team-focused,” Schaetzle said. “We don’t even like to feature individual players in our programs. We want to show the entire team in every picture, if possible.”
Early on this season, UPG has won more than it has lost. But there’s nearly an entire schedule to go, so the Bobcats will have plenty of time to decide if they can stay bonded.
“I walked into this situation three years ago with a foundation, a base on which to build,” said Schaetzle, who has guided UPG to a 2-1 record following an 88-53 rout of City College of New York on Sunday in the Stockton Tip-Off Tournament.
UPG opened the season with a 71-42 thumping of Thiel. In between, UPG was beaten by No. 22 Cabrini, 61-53, in the first game of the two-day Stockton tournament in Galloway, N.J.
Next up for UPG is its home opener Wednesday against Grove City.
“We were excited to have an opportunity to play against such a talented squad as Cabrini,” Schaetzle said. “There were some different areas exposed to us that we’ll be wanting to work on.
“When you go against a top-25 team, they’re going to hold you accountable. We must learn to do everything at the most efficient level that you can.”
Schaetzle’s first two teams went 7-18 in 2017-18 and 8-17 last season, both times finishing 7-11 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference and outside of the conference playoff field.
But the time seemingly has helped her current group find unity.
“They’re really locked in and focused on the standards we’ve set,” Schaetzle said. “The ultimate goal is to be playing basketball in March, and I feel very fortunate that this is such a coachable group, a group we can really count on.”
The team’s top three scorers are back, led by junior guard/forward Nadege Durand (15.9 ppg, 12.3 rpg last season). Senior guard Colleen Murphy (11.8 ppg) and sophomore forward Maddie Sitler (11.7) are the others.
“I was hired later in the summer (of 2017) and didn’t have the opportunity to recruit a class,” Schaetzle said. “We had two returners remaining and a group of freshmen.”
Schaetzle added Durand, from Philadelphia Penn Wood, as a walk-on to help bolster the roster following a 9-16 (8-10 AMCC) record in Eaton’s final season.
The 5-foot-7 Durand has paid dividends, earning first-time all-AMCC honors as a sophomore after leading the Bobcats in scoring and rebounding and ranking sixth in Division III with 18 double-doubles.
“She’s been one of our co-captains,” Schaetzle said, “along with Colleen Murphy and (junior guard) Maddy Coddington (from Greensburg Central Catholic).”
Junior guard Cat Gollihugh (Upper St. Clair) rounds out the starters.
Mercyhurst-North East transfer Shaquoia McCray, off the bench, is averaging 7.3 points and a team-leading 11.7 rebounds. The 5-10 McCray a year ago earned first-team all-NJCAA regional honors at Mercyhurst-North East.
Schaetzle said UPG is farther along at the start of this season than last. She relies on her family, some with coaching experience, for advice.
She is married to Thurman Schaetzle, a former Highlands High School boys assistant who briefly held the men’s job at Westmoreland County Community College before leaving for a men’s assistant’s job at Canisius.
Thurman Schaetzle, who spent a year on his wife’s staff at UPG, is a son of longtime Mercyhurst football coach Marty Schaetzle.
“He’s an interesting person to talk to,” she said of the elder Schaetzle. “He’s got a lot of experience and a lot to offer.”
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.