Greensburg Salem rookie coach learns lessons, brings fresh approach to team

Thursday, January 5, 2023 | 9:01 AM

Often, as he coaches his first season at Greensburg Salem, Cam Auld finds himself reverting back to the not-too-distant past when he was a high school basketball player.

He puts himself on the outside of the huddle looking inward.

“You put yourself back in that time,” the Golden Lions’ 24-year-old rookie boys basketball coach said. “These guys are so young. You think, ‘What is going through their minds?’ I remember how my mind worked back then.”

With that approach, Auld tries to keep the game simple for his team, which is back in Class 4A after two rough years in 6A.

The Golden Lions already have more wins than they had all of last year (4-7). They opened Section 1-4A play this week.

Auld, a Norwin graduate and the only new local boys hoops coach this season, remembers embracing his on-court role as a defensive hound, facilitator and team guy while playing in the WPIAL and, later, at Waynesburg.

“I wanted to do the things nobody else wanted to do,” Auld said. “The best compliment I can get (as a coach) is, ‘That kid’s team plays hard.’ I admire the coaches who win more with less, the ones who get the most out of teams.”

Like most first-year coaches, there are always surprises. And there is much — much — more to being a coach than calling plays and giving pep talks.

“The administrative things,” Auld said. “There is so much. And there are things you learn. In our game against Southmoreland, we had a guy touch the rim in warm-ups. That’s a technical. We started the game down 2-0. These are the kinds of things you don’t think of.”

Auld likes to watch other coaches — from veteran high school guys like Hempfield’s Bill Swan to one of his favorite college coaches, Buzz Williams of Texas A&M.

He doesn’t claim to know more than those men but strives to be like them.

“You learn quickly that you don’t have all the answers,” Auld said. “Life is about growing up. I keep learning every day. It’s more learning for me than our guys.”

Junior guard Ryan Burkart said the team has enjoyed Auld’s fresh enthusiasm and approach to the game.

“He brings a lot of energy,” Burkart said. “Defensively, he has taught us to help better, and on offense, we’re more free.”

Greensburg Salem was 3-19 last season and 0-13 in 2020-21.

The team hadn’t won three in a row since 2018-19 but strung together a three-game streak with victories over Ringgold (75-70), Valley (52-44) and Mt. Pleasant (55-44).

Each win has exposed Auld and his novel staff — Ty George, Jerry Cooley and Denny Little — to something divergent, something they hadn’t seen or felt before.

“There is not right or wrong ways to do things,” Auld said. “There is no right or wrong time to call a timeout. Do you (run sets) or let them go? It’s OK to do things on the fly. Every segment (of coaching) requires you to do things differently.”

The Golden Lions have shown they can score in transition and are improving in the half-court, but Auld doesn’t think track-meet games always will favor his team.

“Scoring 70 is nice, but giving up 68, we need to get that down,” Auld said. “We need to grind it out on defense and get stops.”

The win total is an improvement, but Auld wants to add to it. And he doesn’t want a parade for baby steps.

He talks about his players investing in the program.

“I don’t want our guys to fall in love with the numbers,” he said. “I want them to understand it doesn’t matter who is across from us. It’s about us and what we do. How do you want to invest your money? If you invested $1,000 in Tesla 10 years ago, you’d have $66,000 today.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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