Defensively-Minded Wildcats Begin Their Season

HUNTINGTON STATION, New York, December 4

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Last season, as the Walt Whitman High School girls basketball team entered the playoffs, Wildcats coach Dan Trebour knew the experience his young team gained from participating in postseason play would turn out to be extremely important. While the girls ended up falling to West Islip in a game that ended their run, it only makes them that much more hungry to get back there this year.

“A lot of those kids have come back to play this season,” Trebour, coaching in his 16th season for Whitman, said. “Last year a lot of the girls were first-year contributors… We’ve made a lot of progress from then. Now, we’re looking forward to the season with slightly higher expectations.”

For the 2014-2015 season, Trebour said he’d be disappointed if his team wasn’t once again in the playoffs. However, in a tough League II with “a lot of parity,” the Wildcats are going to have to show that they’ve grown as a team from last year. With just two seniors gracing the roster in ’13-’14, Whitman was a young team last year. This year, those girls are back and ready to go.

Rose Pedretti [a 5-foot-9 junior] is No. 1 on the depth chart,” Trebour said of his starting small forward who averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds a year ago. “She starts at the 3 for us, but she can play anything. She has a nice shot, faces the rim, can drive to the basketball and get the ball in the post. She’s the most versatile player we have.”

Versatility is Pedretti’s claim to fame, but that doesn’t mean she can’t develop. While she can contribute in every aspect of the game, Trebour said, Pedretti still has room to improve, and Trebour expects to see that boost shine through this season.

Speaking of development, Trebour praised the improvement of his starting sophomore point guard Rosa Portaro who spent plenty of time during the off-season on the basketball court.

“[Portaro] is an athletic kid; a good-sized point guard who can push the ball up the court,” Trebour said. “Last year she didn’t score major points, but she’s young and developing. She’s developing her shot and can be a real threat on offense [this year].”

Portaro, he said, does a nice job balancing the team and will continue to see success this season by limiting her turnovers and improving on the valuable experience she had playing as a freshman on the varsity squad last season.

Elsewhere, the Wildcats have more size than they’re used to, Trebour said. Whitman plans to be a physical team that will disrupt its opponents’ flow on offense thanks to its size and quickness.

“We’re a pretty defensively minded team. Right now we don’t have the offensive skill as a group overall,” he said. “We’re not going to win games in the 60s; our goal is to keep teams under 40 points – and when you do that you always give yourself a chance to win.”

The Wildcats’ first chance for a win came on Wednesday as the girls traveled to Sachem East for a nonleague game to open up the season. The game occurred after press time, but Whitman will once again be in action on Friday at 4:30 p.m. when it travels to Riverhead for a second non-league contest.

Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, December 4, 2014;  A48)

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