SEASON PREVIEW: SHARPSVILLE
The 2000-01 campaign will usher in a new Sharpsville High boys basketball era, but the program's reins have been kept in the family, so to speak.
Chris Anglin, who directed the Blue Devils to an aggregate 79-91 mark during his 7-year tenure, resigned following last winter's 14-10 ledger. But Anglin -- a former Sharpsville sharpshooter during his playing days -- is succeeded by another Sharpsville native, longtime assistant Bob Donatell, an '89 Sharpsville alumnus who played scholastically for Bob Amos.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge that I'm gonna face as a coach, and also really anxious to see how the kids react to their own challenge,'' Donatelli began.
A senior nucleus carved last year's ledger that resulted in a playoff near-miss, but that drained the Blue Devils -- there are no returning letterwinners and only one senior listed on the roster. And Sharpsville's successful foray into this fall's football playoffs has prevented several projected contributors from taking the hardwood.
"It's a new environment for just about everyone, as far as playing at the varsity level,'' Donatelli began. "At our first scrimmage (with Oil City and Maplewood), it was the first time those kids had seen that kind of intensity and quickness. They were not used to it.''
But Donatelli is hoping the inexperience will evaporate as the days and weeks pass.
"I hope so. One of our goals is to keep improving from game to game,'' he said.
Six-foot junior Bill Stiger, the football team's starting quarterback, "has the most meaningful varsity experience,'' Donatelli said, and likely will play the 3-guard spot.
Others expected to vie for varsity positions -- with "every position being wide-open,'' according to Donatelli -- include a pair of 6-2 junior forwards in Matt Perna and Todd Prelerson; 6-0 frontliner Blaise Iorio; and a pair of guards in 5-7 Brandon Pavone and 5-10 Brett Peruzzi, as well as 6-1 Gerard Pratt and 5-8 guard Aaron Bailey.
"It's hard to say because of the football aspect, but I'm looking for Brett Peruzzi to step up and run the point. He ran it last year at the jayvee level,'' Donatelli said.
"A good group of sophomores'' also will factor into the mix, including 6-footers Adam Dye and Mike Burt and 5-10 off-guard Matt Supel. Sharpsville's sole senior is 5-8 guard Tony Fox.
"We tend to be not as disciplined as we need to be, but we're progressing with that, beginning in the summer and progressing through the fall and now into seasonal practice,'' Donatelli, analyzing weaknesses, said, adding "rebounding'' as another shortcoming.
"And we have to get better at taking constructive criticism and doing something positive with it,'' he emphasized.
Strong suits "would be our dedication and hustle,'' he added.
"We're pretty small and quick, and I would say fast without the basketball,'' Donatelli said. "But we should be pretty quick defensively. We'll play a lot of man-to-man and try to stress a helping defense. With a young team, we're going to have to be a little more patient early on, as far as running and jumping and pushing the ball. We'd like to get into that, but we're not ready yet. We don't want to run before we can walk. But hopefully, after Christmas, we'll be pushing the ball, playing some up-tempo and trapping (defensively).''
Donatelli is one of several new faces on the bench within the county's cage coaching ranks and he said, "It's going to be interesting to see what kind of changes everybody makes.''
For his club, "one goal we've talked about so far is that (District 10) is supposed to take two teams out of AA, so we're hoping we're one of those teams. I don't know if that's an attainable goal -- I know Wilmington and Greenville will be pretty good, and Mercer has a new coach in Mike Williams.
Practices have been extremely competitive, Donatelli related, explaining, "We don't have any stars, so everybody has to work very hard to be best they can be.''
Donatelli will be assisted by his former mentor, Amos, while former Blue Devil cager Jeff Hanley ('88) will coach the junior varsity. -- By Herald assistant sports editor Ed Farrell
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