New coach DeGregorio seeing good signs with Pine-Richland girls basketball team

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Saturday, February 20, 2021 | 9:01 AM


When Kyle DeGregorio took over as coach of the Pine-Richland girls basketball team before this season, his first objective was establishing a culture.

That culture has tenets that include growth, strengthening relationships between players on the court and developing an open line of communication and trust between players and the coaching staff. It also establishes work ethic and having a fun attitude on the court.

All of those elements go beyond X’s and O’s. They are the details DeGregorio wants his players to focus on to become successful. He has seen good progress in all of those areas.

“There need to be standards of behavior that they understand what our program stands for,” DeGregorio said. “I have to be the gatekeeper and caretaker of those standards in our culture. I’m very fortunate at Pine-Richland because I have very supportive families, a very supportive administration, and I have really good kids that care at a very high level. They have the capacity to work hard and this is very important to them.”

DeGregorio has had success in turning programs around. He guided Baldwin from a three-win team three years ago to a team that made the PIAA playoffs last year and upset Central Dauphin, the No. 1 team in the state in the first round.

After surprisingly not being retained by Baldwin after last season, he has found a new opportunity to build with the Rams.

Pine-Richland already had more wins (five) than it had all last season (four) through Feb. 16. For DeGregorio, the improvement goes beyond wins and losses.

“Right now, I’m focused on growth,” DeGregorio said. “I’m not focused on outcome. My eyes have told me that we are better. I see things going on in practice, like conversations our players have with each other and with the coaching staff, that tells me our culture and the way we go about business every day is starting to change. That’s what good teams do.”

DeGregorio started seeing those elements needed for success manifest themselves in a Jan. 25 loss to Norwin.

“We went down 18-2 in the first five minutes of the game, but we beat them from that point forward,” DeGregorio said. “The girls fought, and I mean they fought. They didn’t give up and eventually cut that lead to nine. We ended up losing by 13, but that was the first time I saw what kind of fight we had. That was growth, and we’ve been a better team since that night.”

Norwin and North Allegheny have been the measuring sticks in Pine-Richland’s section for years, and the goal is to become a program that elevates to that level.

Part of that equation is not backing down to the style the Rams want to play. DeGregorio has his teams play fast and press and trap on defense. Playing fast is a key to him as well as developing mental toughness.

He has a set system that includes a rotation that is planned up until the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. It’s a system similar to what his brother, Dave DeGregorio, uses with the North Catholic boys.

The Rams are opting into the WPIAL Class 6A open tournament. This season already has had signs of success and is a step forward into the future.

“I’m a big believer in if you’re building a program, it’s not about going 14-8 or something and having a good season. The goal is to figure out how to reach the standard of the best teams in our section, North Allegheny and Norwin, and learn how to become better than them,” DeGregorio said. “So how do you do that? I’m not going to do it by changing what we do basketball-wise, but if we can be a stronger family than them, if they can care more than them and if they player harder and communicate more than them then that’s a start.

“We might not always have the better players, but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. We need to learn how to play when the game is fast against really good players.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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