Knoch scoring sensation Ryan Lang may be WPIAL’s best kept secret
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 6:34 PM
Knoch junior Ryan Lang may have been the best kept secret in the WPIAL heading into this season, but through the Knights’ first three games, the sharp-shooting guard is starting to make a name for himself.
He dropped 29 points against the Fightin’ Planets in a 79-59 loss, then scored a combined 65 points in Knoch’s last two games. On Tuesday, he hit for a career-high 34 points against North Catholic, the defending WPIAL Class 3A champions, in a nine-point loss.
“He’s been absolutely phenomenal, and he’s really helped the other guys calm down,” first-year coach Alan Bauman said. “Now we just need to pick it up as a team because that’s a tough pace to stay at for an entire year. But he’s been outstanding.”
Lang is averaging 31.3 points per game, and although he’s producing at a high clip, his production isn’t anything new. Last season as a sophomore, Lang was the only underclassman in a starting rotation that featured four seniors. He still averaged 18.2 points per game and came up big on several occasions.
This year has already been different, though, as Lang has had to be more assertive on the offensive end. He could just let the game flow last season and defer to his older teammates at times. A lot is riding on his shoulders this year, and he’s still getting used to being a primary scorer.
“It’s been a change to kind of change up my philosophy on scoring,” Lang said. “I had a lot of teammates who would get to the hoop and kick out, and I could let the game come to me more instead of trying to force a little bit more.”
Bauman doesn’t think Lang has been forcing things. The coach thinks he’s been choosing the perfect moments to attack defenses.
“He’s done an outstanding job of picking his spots and understanding what the defense is giving him,” Bauman said. “He’s a triple-threat. He’s a great finisher at the rim, a really good 3-point shooter, and then the other night against North Catholic and also Keystone Oaks, he started to use his mid-range and that’s been outstanding.”
Along with the bigger role this season, Lang has started to garner a lot more attention from defenses. He said he’s starting to learn how to handle the extra attention, but when teams like Mars and North Catholic, who are perennial powerhouses in the WPIAL, are bringing extra pressure, it can get difficult.
“It’s been a big adjustment because I was the guy behind all the seniors last year,” Lang said. “So it all kinda got thrown onto me in that first game, and I struggled with the pressure and the ball handling. But I’ll get it down soon.”
After the team lost four senior starters and a fifth who came off the bench, Lang and senior forward Zach McMillen have played bigger roles this season on both ends of the court. They were the only two players who saw significant minutes last season, and some of their teammates are still getting used to the speed and tempo of the game at the varsity level.
Lang’s production early on this season, which is around 51% of Knoch’s total scoring, has allowed his teammates to get comfortable.
“He’s taken a lot of the pressure off these guys to grow into their roles,” Bauman said. “But the one thing we gotta watch is our guys watching and expecting Ryan to do it and not continuing to get better. But, he’s definitely helped these guys get more comfortable.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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