Derry chooses Brisbane as girls basketball coach

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Thursday, August 1, 2019 | 9:13 PM


Derry athletic director Brett Miller was looking for a difference-maker to coach the girls basketball team.

He feels he found that person in former Hempfield coach Gene Brisbane.

The Derry school board voted 6-0 to hire Brisbane on Thursday.

“I can honestly say that Gene is my best hire,” Miller said. “Gene has so much experience, and he’ll fit right in here with the teachers, administration and the players.”

Brisbane won 377 games as the Hempfield girls and Westmoreland County Community College’s women’s coach. He also was boys coach at Jeannette for two seasons and an assistant coach for the late Tom Traynor at Hempfield and Paul Sapotichne at Greensburg Salem.

The 1970 Hempfield grad taught elementary and middle school at Hempfield for 35 years. He also was an assistant track coach at Seton Hill.

The 67-year-old graduated from Pitt in 1974.

“Derry was so nice to me throughout the process,” Brisbane said. “I have a lot of work to do, but I pretty much know how to do it.”

Brisbane said he’s learned how to adjust to the new style of play. He said the 3-point line has changed the game.

“That the biggest change,” Brisbane said about the 3-point line. “So many teams have sold out to the perimeter game. They’ve abandoned the mid-range shots and inside play.

“I’ve coached with the 3-point line, but there are other things I like to do. You have to evaluate your talent and tailor their skills accordingly.”

Brisbane likes to play full-court pressure defense and said his team will run if it can.

“There are different ways to use your talent,” Brisbane said. “I haven’t seen Derry play, so I don’t know much about the players. I want to get started as soon as possible and start everyone with a clean slate.”

Derry returns many players from a squad that went 9-11 overall and 7-7 in Class 3A, Section 3. The Trojans missed the playoffs by one game.

Brisbane replaces Matt Regula, who resigned in March.

Regula was the team’s third coach in as many seasons. Rich Zemba coached the Trojans for five years until 2017. William Tyler Johnson took over for a year before leaving to become the men’s coach at WCCC.

“Playing basketball in high school is a privilege,” Brisbane said. “I want them to enjoy playing.”

Miller said Brisbane is a perfect fit for the school.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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