New Greensburg Central Catholic coach Hyland brings youthful energy

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019 | 7:13 PM


Christian Hyland’s first memories of NBA basketball consist of postseason journeyman Robert Horry sinking the winning shot for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals and veteran guard Derek Fisher’s walk-off jumper to lift the Lakers past the San Antonio Spurs two years later in the Western semifinals.

“My favorite college player was Julius Page (of Pitt),” Hyland said. “I cut off one of my sleeves and wore it like he did. And Dwyane Wade was always my favorite NBA player.”

Forgive Greensburg Central Catholic’s new boys basketball coach if his hoops knowledge seemed to blossom just less than two decades ago: That’s when he was born.

At age 23 — he’ll be 24 next month — Hyland will be one of the youngest head coaches in the WPIAL — heck, the nation — when he leads the Centurions this winter.

He has grown up in the social media generation and only knows NBA free agency as a July feeding frenzy.

Barely older than his players, the new kid on the block is beginning to employ his methods. He is not quite to the point of installing game-usable X’s and O’s, but his foundation is forming.

“I have really been impressed with our younger guys and how hard they’re working in the weight room,” Hyland said this week during an open-gym workout in Carbon. “We’re working one some small stuff: ball-handling and fundamental things.”

Hyland, who was born in Boca Raton, Fla., and grew up in Trafford, played high school basketball at GCC and Pitt-Greensburg before finding his way into coaching.

“I have been around basketball my whole life,” said Hyland, a three-year assistant under Greg Bisignani, whom he replaced at the helm. “I remember playing when I was like 4 or 5 at the YMCA on Route 286 in Plum. That’s my first memory of basketball. You play all your life and when you’re done, you don’t want your playing days to be over. I knew I would probably get into coaching some day.”

Hyland was a senior point guard at GCC in 2014 when the Centurions made it to the WPIAL Class AA championship and PIAA semifinals.

Hyland, who works for Hutchinson & Gunter Inc. Sheet Metal in Greensburg and runs a personal-training business on the side, said about 15-18 players have been showing up consistently over the summer. He also has welcomed some middle school players to practices.

“Coach Hyland brings a lot of energy and excitement to the team,” incoming senior guard Tommy Erdely said. “He is a very positive coach and is always pushing his players to be their best. He also has a lot of knowledge about the game through his time as a player and the years he spent as an assistant under Coach Bis. The team is ready to play for him and looking forward to the upcoming season.”

The fact the keys to the program are in his hands is starting to set in.

“Every time I come into the gym, I sweep the floor and turn on the lights,” Hyland said. “Before, that stuff was already done. And I have been watching last year’s games on film in the office. This place is my second home.”

As far as a coaching style goes, Hyland said he plans to blend techniques and approaches he has learned from others over the years.

That includes Bisignani, who coached GCC for eight seasons; Hempfield coach and former GCC assistant Bill Swan; former Seton Hill coach Tony Morrocco (Hyland was his assistant for a year); and his father, Denny, a local AAU coach.

“It will be a mix of everyone, I think,” Hyland said. “I’ll probably be more like Bis, laid back, but the guys will know I am capable of ripping into them.”

Longtime assistant Ed Zimmerlink and new staffer Chris Kallock, the former girls head coach, will join Hyland on the bench.

GCC went 17-7 last season and returned to the WPIAL playoffs. The previous year, the Centurions missed the postseason to snap a 17-year streak.

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

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