Boys basketball preview: Quaker Valley looking to run with experienced roster
Sunday, November 29, 2020 | 11:01 AM
By this point in the year, the Quaker Valley boys basketball team is used to having close to 60 offseason games under its belt, and although they may not matter in the grand scheme of things, those games are crucial.
From spring shootouts to summer team camps and leagues, along with a few tournaments in the fall, the Quakers are used to using those out-of-season games as growing opportunities. It’s a time for players to learn their roles and come together so they can hit the ground running when the season starts.
Due to covid-19, the Quakers didn’t have that opportunity this season, although they may be in a better spot than most teams.
“When you are playing all those games, you are starting to identify your roles and we didn’t, but we’re fortunate,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. “We’re bringing four guys back that played quite a bit last year, so having that experience level, playing in games, will help us a lot.”
After losing to eventual Class 4A runner-up Belle Vernon in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, the Quakers are back with a lot of experienced players who played quality minutes and helped the team to an overall record of 17-6.
Junior guard Adou Thiero will be one to watch for the Quakers as he returns to the starting lineup for the third straight year. He led the Quakers in scoring last season with 17.7 points and also pulled down 4.3 rebounds and tallied 3.4 assists a game. He was also a terror on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 2.4 steals per game.
“We’re looking at (Adou taking another step forward), but we’re also looking at a combination of guys,” Mastroianni said. “Adou does a lot of things at a high level, though. He handles the ball, manages the team, and he does a lot of things.
“The approach of the other teams is going to be a little different for him too, so there’s going to be an adjustment period for him. But having experienced guys around him is definitely going to help out a lot for sure.”
Along with Thiero, the Quakers will also return juniors Markus Frank and Jack Gardinier and senior James Davis, who all played significant minutes for the Quakers last season. Frank was the team’s second-leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, and he also pulled down 6.7 rebounds.
Gardinier, who will man the backcourt with Thiero, averaged 8.7 points a game last season and will look to play an even bigger role as a junior. Davis filled in for Jonathan Weir last season when the senior center went down with a thumb injury and played a vital role.
While having that much experience back should help the team come together early on, it will also play a major part in what the Quakers can do as the season goes on.
“These guys understand the program and the expectations,” Mastroianni said. “There’s a sense of those years when they were young. We really played a lot of underclassmen last year, so to have that experience back is helpful, especially in the times when we’re dealing with a lot of other stuff.”
Throughout his time at Quaker Valley, Mastroianni has been known to get his team up and down the floor. The Quakers are always on the run, and that’s been the case for several years. With a young team that’s quick and long, this season might be one of Quaker’s fastest yet.
“We are going to play fast, and we would be foolish not to because we are a fast team,” Mastroianni said. “Our team speed is actually going to be really good this year, so we definitely want to run, but in our league, you still have to be able to play half-court. There are so many good teams and good coaches that are going to force you to be able to do that.”
With a tough section schedule that will now include Lincoln Park and Montour, the Quakers know they will need to pick up on the defensive side of the ball, which is been one of their focuses as they get started with practice.
“Defensively, we have to be more consistent, and we’re trying to get better at that,” Mastroianni said.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Quaker Valley
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