By Eric Dixon 11/23/2018
The definition of winning for Coach Bill Coleman and his staff has become fluid over the past 8 seasons at Pennsbury High School. The coach noted that although he has always appreciated the importance of his impact on the lives of his players, he realized some time ago that he needed to shift his focus from winning not just on the scoreboard to winning more in other areas of coaching as well.
Player development and leadership training has worked its way to the forefront of the Bucks County program which is a perennial top 3 finisher in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference the last few years. Last year they finished 3rd with a 14-9 record before bowing to Bensalem in the first round of the District playoffs in disappointing fashion, coming up just 3 points shy against their inter-county rivals.
This flexibility in the understanding of winning is shared by long time assistant coach Gary Jones, also entering his ninth season at the school. “We want to win in every situation. We want to win on lose balls, we want to win” in how the team prepares, said Coach Jones. They also want to win in how they develop kids “Development is 100%” added the former LaSalle Explorer.
“We will not be outworked,” declared Coach Coleman, who is praised by his staff for his work ethic and commitment. “Outwork Everyone” is one of the coach’s primary tenets. As a staff, which also includes Pennsbury alum Adam Doan, who guides the JV team, they hope that they can impart to the team how important it is to work hard to succeed. That message seems to have reached senior team leader Gary Francis, a do-it-all 6-4 forward.
“I am taking things way more seriously, watching more film, talking to Coach more,” said Francis, adding that he’s been working hard to improve his ball-handling and shot creation as he prepares to take on a “way bigger role” for the Falcons. The well-built wing has lofty team goals that include bringing a National Conference title to the program in his final varsity campaign. The conference has been realigned, moving last year’s champion Abington out and William Tenent in.
In addition to Francis, Coleman will also lean on juniors Collin Connor and Kyrie Miller to provide leadership to his young team, which boasts just 2 seniors. Along with Connor, the staff is hoping 6-2 junior guard Cooper Arnold can provide floor spacing and create lanes for Francis and the mercurial Miller, a 5-10 speedster. Junior forward Charlie Nuschke, a lacrosse player, will be called upon to control the paint for the squad.
Luke Dellagratte, a heady 6-4 forward, is the only other senior on the team and will be looked upon to provide important rebounding and defense on a team that is challenged with an overall lack of size. However, what they lack in size they will make up for in effort and intensity, according to Coleman. “We will be defensive and disruptive,” he said. The team will also be “tough” says Coach Jones. “Resiliency is very important. It’s a common trait among great layers at all levels of the sport.”