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WCCC men looking to find identity

As the first month of the season ends, the Westmoreland County Community College men’s basketball team still is trying to find its rhythm.

First-year coach Stuart Silverberg has guided the Wolfpack to a 2-4 mark through the season’s first six games, but he has yet to see his vision for the team fully realized.

“We are developing,” said Silverberg, who served as an assistant coach at WCCC the past two years. “We are in the middle of finding our identity.”

Silverberg would like to play an up-tempo style, but he’s not sure he has the depth to do it at this point in the season. Because of various academic and financial reasons, WCCC has just 11 players eligible to dress for games.

“When practice started back on Oct. 1, I thought we were going to be really deep — deep enough to pick up pressure in the full court,” Silverberg said. “But now that we only have 11 players, it’s preventing us from playing the style we want to play.”

Instead, WCCC has employed an aggressive, half-court defense that’s based on ball pressure and rebound positioning.

Offensively, the Wolfpack employs a version of the old Princeton offense that hinges on dribble penetration and a series of screens and back-door cuts to the basket.

“We want to be a team that pushes the ball,” Silverberg said. “If it’s not there, we need to run our offense until we get the shot we want.”

The WCCC roster is comprised of 10 freshmen and one sophomore. There are five players from WPIAL schools on the team this season. The rest of the squad is made up of players from the eastern U.S. and one from Germany.

“It’s a challenge to get them to mesh,” Silverberg said. “They’re accustomed to being the main guy in high school, but now they have to take on different roles.

“They’ve made great strides so far.”

Freshman guard Ruben Edwards is the Wolfpack’s leading scorer. The Burtonsville, Md., native is averaging 22.2 points. He registered a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) in WCCC’s 92-70 loss to Northern Virginia Community College on Nov. 15.

Freshman forward George Brown, a Franklin Regional product, is second on the team in scoring with an average of 14.2 points. He has multiple 20-point games this season, including a 24-point, eight-rebound effort in WCCC’s first win of the season over Lehigh Carbon Community College on Nov. 7. He shot 10 of 15 from the floor to help the Wolfpack to an 80-76 victory.

Norman Ellis, a freshman from Louisville, Ky., is running the offense as a point guard.

He’s putting up 7.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

“He’s a really steady player,” Silverberg said. “He does everything for us.”

The Wolfpack is slated to open Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference play Jan. 7 with a home game against CCAC Allegheny.

In the meantime, Silverberg has arranged for his team to play a tough nonconference schedule to get his team ready for the rigors of the WPCC.

Silverberg anticipates Potomac State (W.Va.) College, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and CCAC Allegheny will be the top teams in the WPCC this season.

“The conference is pretty solid,” Silverberg said. “Potomac State is a scholarship school, and CCAC and Penn Highlands have historically been tough matchups for us.”

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.


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