Shady Side Academy boys basketball ready to conquer obstacles of season restart

Sunday, January 10, 2021 | 9:00 AM

Unlike most teams around Western Pennsylvania, the newly named Shady Side Academy Bulldogs didn’t get an opportunity to start practices on Jan. 4.

After taking covid-19 tests that day, the date that teams were permitted to return to practice, the Bulldogs had to wait 48 hours for their results before they could get back in the gym. When they did return to practice Jan. 6, boys basketball coach David Vadnais said the team was excited to get going.

They were scheduled to play their first game a week later on Jan. 13 at East Allegheny.

Between their first practice back and their first game, Vadnais said his players had a lot of ground to make up and everything they do in practice has to be purposeful.

“We can’t have wasted time, and every minute has to serve a purpose,” Vadnais said. “That’s going to be important for our guys to understand. As much as we’ve told them that via Zoom, when we walk into the gym, every minute we have, we have to get something accomplished.”

Before Gov. Tom Wolf put a pause on high school athletics in mid-December, the Bulldogs were only able to get five official practices in, so they were already behind. They also had preseason open gyms canceled after a water leak kept them out of their gymnasium.

After a late start to their season, Vadnais only had a limited amount of time to figure out what type of players he had, who would play on varsity and junior varsity and several other things. But that one week of practice gave him a lot of information to go off of for the downtime.

“It helped a lot. We do have some young kids on the team this year and very few seniors,” Vadnais said. “So, it allowed me to see where our young guys are and what type of style we could play this year. It allowed me to game plan a little bit over the break and then implement how we will play via Zoom and a lot of discussions with coaches.”

Now, Vadnais believes that the biggest challenge the Bulldogs will face as they restart practice and prepare for their first game is implementing a game plan.

“Our issue is going to be implementing plays and defenses so that we have at least a baseline in for a game in a week,” Vadnais said. “Conditioning and things of that nature will come, and I think teams that had kids that ran and worked out on their own during these three weeks will be at an advantage, and teams that are more veteran and have been together and know their offenses and defenses will have an advantage. But in the end, you still have to go and execute.”

Seeing what he had during five days of practice allowed Vadnais to determine how he wanted his guys to play this year.

He also asked his players to stay vigilant with their covid protocols so they could return to the court when the time came.

“We did a few Zoom calls with just offense more than anything, just because that’s easier to kind of walk through and visualize compared to actually playing defense,” Vadnais said. “We were just kind of hammering the message home of following school protocols so we can return to play.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .


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