Slippery Rock commitment ‘felt right’ to Penn Hills basketball standout Hannah Pugliese

Sunday, October 1, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Ryenn Micaletti left a lasting impression with Penn Hills senior Hannah Pugliese. While on a trip to Slippery Rock University, Pugliese had an opportunity to watch Micaletti, who is in her first year as coach of The Rock, run practice.

“I think she is going to turn things around,” Pugliese said. “She was vocal and you can see she means business.”

Pugliese decided after that practice she wanted to commit to play for the SRU women’s basketball program. Her brother, Luke, plays for The Rock’s football team.

SRU women’s basketball finished 15-13 last season under acting coach Chenara Wilson. Wilson had to step up after long-time SRU coach Bobby McGraw died before the start of the season. SRU had its first winning season last year since the 2001-02 season, when it went 15-12.

The Rock last made the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament during the 2017-18 season.

“It felt right,” Pugliese said. “I like their style of play and the personalities of the team and coach. You get that feeling when you have that butterfly effect in your stomach, it just felt right.”

Contributing to a rebuilding program is something Pugliese has hands-on experience with. Penn Hills only won one game during Pugliese’s sophomore season. During her junior year, the Indians rebounded to make the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs and she averaged more than 10 points per game.

The pursuit of team success is what helped drive Pugliese to make improvements with workouts and by playing on the AAU circuit.

“I think if you aren’t winning, you strive to do better,” Pugliese said. “You want to keep learning and growing from that. It makes the game fun. You want to do better.”

Pugliese said she decided to start playing basketball seriously in fifth grade. She started playing in first grade and looked up to the players on the Penn Hills teams that came before her.

When she got on the club circuit, Pugliese said she developed a new perspective on the game. Pugliese credited coaches Robert Cash and Paul Zeise with helping to push her to get better.

“They got my game better and made me have a better outlook on basketball,” Pugliese said. “They push me to do my best. One thing you learn is you can be good around your area, but when you play girls from other states and areas, you become humble because you aren’t good compared to other players.”


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