Sunday, February 9, 2014

Salvino's steady leadership paying off for Monessen

Monessen head coach Joe Salvino
The world of WPIAL basketball is one filled with parody, roster turnover, injury woes and rescheduling. Programs that are able to sustain success over a long period of time are few and far between.

That is why it is rare to see a head coach stay at a single school for a long period of time, consistently develop young talent and compete for a section title annually. The landscape became more unpredictable with the inception of more city league schools and the never-ending cycle of kids transferring. The one man who time and time again has led a group of high school basketball players to the postseason is Monessen head coach Joe Salvino.

Give credit where credit is due. Salvino has coached a fast, defensive-minded brand of basketball that has resulted in his team reaching the playoffs in all 30 of his seasons at Monessen. Yes, 30 playoff appearances in 30 years. His career record of 558-225 is amazing considering the schedule the Greyhounds play every season.

For Salvino, a non-section schedule is incredibly important, which is why Monessen play games across all four classifications. The Greyhounds began the season with three-straight losses to Class AAA opponents: Upper St. Clair, Franklin Regional and Norwin. Since then, the team has won 17 of 19 games with a strong senior class leading the way. Monessen gave Uniontown its lone loss of the season on Jan. 4. The Greyhounds frustrated their opponent so much that the two-game series between the schools was cut to one when the Red Raiders backed out of a regular season finale with Monessen.

Who can blame them? The Greyhounds are incredibly physical and at a time where resting your players for a playoff push is precious, Uniontown did not want to run into a physical Monessen team less than a week from the start of the post season.

This team is playing its best basketball at the perfect time and is surprising when you consider the Greyhounds’ lineup is filled with players who dedicate their time to football instead of basketball. Players such as Clintell Gillaspie, Justice Rawlins and Javon Brown have brought their tenacious play from the football field to the basketball court with flawless transition.

With Salvino leading the way, the sky is the limit for the Greyhounds once the WPIAL Playoffs begins next weekend.  The biggest question will be the makeup of the Class A playoff bracket. Can Monessen avoid running into Vincentian or Lincoln Park early? I’ve been called crazy with my thought of their ability to upset those two squads but it is impossible to overlook what the Greyhounds have accomplished.

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