With new coach, Norwin boys plan to ramp up excitement level

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Thursday, November 28, 2019 | 4:58 PM


When Buddy Valinsky coached at Allderdice, he became accustomed to a certain style of play, a product of many talented and athletic players who helped him win six straight City League titles.

“We played above the rim,” said Valinsky, who takes over the Norwin boys program this season. “Here, they play around the rim.”

That’s no slight on his current players. Valinsky simply is adjusting to his new environment and adapting to what the Knights can bring to the court.

He feels like the community has embraced him, along with the much faster brand of play he plans to implement.

If nothing else, the coach wants the Knights to raise the excitement factor.

“These kids here are tough, and they want to work hard,” said Valinsky, who was 226-97 in 12 seasons at Allderdice, his alma mater. He commutes from Squirrel Hill. “I like what I see here. They all came to the workouts, and we’ve had the numbers.

“I have been putting in a lot of time here, and I feel like it is appreciated.”

Valinsky replaced 17-year veteran coach Lynn Washowich, who went 223-173 and made the WPIAL playoffs 12 times. Washowich resigned in the offseason.

“Our style is going to be much more fast-paced,” junior guard Ty Bilinsky said. “We’re going to shoot more, and things are going to be more free-flowing.”

Bilinsky and fellow juniors Jayden Walker and Nick Fleming will be three key pieces that the team will build around — Walker once he returns from injury.

Norwin, which finished 8-13 last year after a 3-0 start and ended the year by losing seven of its last eight games, will look to banish a three-year playoff drought.

Valinsky said he wants to build the program into a consistent winner, not just one that has “pockets of success.”

“The more you hold the ball, the less shots you get,” Valinsky said. “You have to shoot it to score. We want to move.”

Said Bilinsky: “There won’t be a lot of standing around. All five guys need to go hard for the whole game.”

Bilinsky proved he could score against Class 6A competition last year and once again will have a scorer’s mentality.

“A lot of our guys have the green light,” Valinsky said.

That also goes for Fleming and Walker in the post, but the frontcourt players likely will have to run the floor more.

The 6-foot-4 Walker is likely out until January as he recovers from labrum surgery.

“We want to get out quick and get a shot up,” said the 6-2 Fleming. “We’ll need guys to step up to play this way.”

The point guard will be one who Valinsky admires, a player after his own heart. Nate Petrarca, the team’s only senior, returns to basketball after two years away. He is a standout lacrosse player at Norwin and brings energy and leadership, which his coach thinks can outweigh his lack of experience.

He will help guide a still-young group.

“He is the epitome of how I was (at Allderdice),” said Valinsky, who played collegiately at Morris Harvey, which later became the University of Charleston.

Valinsky said he took the team to various shootouts to get them accustomed to playing together with the new style.

“I wanted to take them out of Westmoreland County,” the coach said. “We played at Central Catholic and Penn Hills. I think it opened their eyes to what else is out there. We took our lumps, but it was the first step to get them out there and see some better players.”

Bilinsky and Fleming came aboard later because they played football.

“I like that toughness they bring,” Valinsky said. “There’s something about football players playing basketball.”

Additional players expected to see minutes include juniors Josh Govannucci, Josh Williams and Conor McCutcheon.

“Williams is a good shooter for us, and McCutcheon is scrappy and plays hard,” Valinsky said.

Sophomore Mike Fleming and freshman Adam Bilinsky also could earn some minutes.

Valinsky has an eye toward the future and said the eighth-grade program is showing promise.

Norwin opens the season Dec. 6 against Ringgold at the Mt. Pleasant tournament.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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