Tradition Doesn't Graduate

"Time out" with Coach Pensyl 


3/17/2016 - To all my former and current players, assistant coaches, friends, and family, thank you for your support and friendship.  To my two trusted and loyal assistant coaches, Mike Delgrosso and Richie Williams, thank you for helping plan this celebration and for your dedication to our basketball program and to me. And to my wife Jill, thank you for being such a great person and wife. You have supported this venture 100% and you deserve an equal amount of credit for the 500 wins. Thank you so much to everyone for the wonderful celebration the night we got 500 and for helping us celebrate it with the great party the next day. Words cannot express how thankful and grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to coach so many great young men. 

As many of you have said in text, phone calls, emails, and cards about how much I have helped you let me assure you that I was more than happy to have played a part in your life. You have all helped me become a much better and more caring coach and person. Whether it was players at the old PM school or at West, my dedication and devotion to each of you was sincere and profound. One of the nicest things about coaching, at least for me, is when I get texts and emails from former players, just saying hello, asking about a game, inviting me and Jill to your wedding, or asking for a letter of recommendation. I appreciate those contacts and always look forward to them.  It's funny because I never know who will be reaching out or just wanting to reconnect.  The 500 message /memory box I received as a gift was great. Some of the messages brought me to tears while others made me piss my pants. I know a lot of you wanted to be at the game and at the party the next day and just couldn't get there. Let me assure you that you were missed and that I thought about each team and the players I coached during those 2 days. It was especially gratifying for me and Jill that Bradley and Natalie and their spouses were there, as well as our 5 grandchildren.

To all the old PM guys when I first started my career, thank you. Together we built a great program at that school. We had a ton of great victories there along with championships and unforgettable playoff games. Always remember that we sold that gym out for 3 consecutive years. That program came a long, long way from when I took over. I will always remember when I got hired in late June the team was already entered into a summer league. So the first game I showed up and we only had 4 players and I had to play. The next game we only had 3 players show up and they threw us out of the league. We went from that mess to one of the most respected programs in District XI. I think sometimes you guys feel pushed into the background or not remembered because I am at West now - that is far from the truth. You were the guys that helped us build a program, put PM Basketball on the map, and gave me the confidence as a coach that I was doing something right.

To all my players at West - Wow. We built a program that takes a back seat to NOBODY. Tons of Championships and Wins. Unfortunately, you will never get the credit that you deserve, but you and I know what we did at West. Thank you for getting us our District Championship. To all my players, former and current,  thanks for letting me chew your butt out when you needed it and thank you for letting me be there for you when you needed me most. I plan on coaching for awhile yet and I look forward to winning more games and championships, but more importantly, I look forward to helping young kids becoming men. Remember that goodness is about character - success will come and go but honor and integrity are forever.

It was my honor and privilege to have coached everyone of you.

Pocono Mt Pride and Godspeed

Coach Pensyl

Back to Work

5/11/15 - It's that time of the year where we get back to work.  We intentionally do not bug our players for a few months at the end of the season and allow them to decompress.  We will start our weight lifting program 3 days a week and end it sometime in the beginning of July.  We need to address the weaknesses we had this year and get better for next season.  Obviously we were not satisfied as a staff or program with our season last year.  Winning 14 games at most schools is reason for celebration but it is not at West.  We had a large number of obstacles last year that prevented us from challenging for a championship - inexperience - youth - lack of mental toughness - injuries, etc.  These are not excuses but merely facts about the season.  I think that 95% of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses and this is something that we have tried to keep out of our program. 
We have had the most successful boys basketball program in District XI in the last 13 years in terms of total wins and championships.  Although I can't verify it, I would say that we probably have had the most players playing college basketball in this time frame.  Although only one played D1, we have had players experience a ton of success on the D2 level. I say "although only one D1" player with tongue in cheek.  The reason obviously is that in todays basketball world some people consider a scholarship to a D2 school as some sort of failure.  Last year alone, we had 3 players who received a full scholarship to play basketball and attend college.  That is an impressive statistic and one that we take great pride in.  We have done an outstanding job at West of networking with college coaches and sending information and film to the colleges.  There is rarely a day that passes where I am not speaking with a college coach about one of our players.  
In order for us to rise to the top again our players need to dedicate themselves in the off season and get better.  As I have always told the players, this is the one time of the year to get selfish.  Get bigger, get stronger, work on your weaknesses.  Too many times in today's athletic culture and world we find where kids look for every reason not to practice, for every excuse to not get better, and to blame other people for their weaknesses.  Coaches can only give players solid advice and try to put their players on the right path but ultimately the final forming of the players character is in their own hands.  At the end of the day, the player is solely responsible for their success or failure.  Too often today, kids are looking for the "right" person to compliment them and tell them how great they are, instead of looking for the person that is going to be honest with them and have their best interest at heart.  The sooner today's players realize that they are in charge of their success and integrate hard work into improving their game they will see improvement and success.  As long as players and parents blame others for the reason their son isn't successful, that player will never reach his potential and will fail.
We have a busy summer planned.  Playing in a few tournaments, going to a few camps, and having open gym 3 days a week.  I know our players will rise up to the challenge and get better this summer. We have always had tough, hard nosed players at West and players that take great pride in our program.  We will keep you updated on our progress throughout the summer.   As always........

West Pride and God Speed


The Young & Old

11-10-14 - The start of the new season is coming up fast and the coaching staff and players are excited to start the season. The first official practice is November 17th.  I am hoping that with the new league that we will be able to field a competitive team and one that everyone who follows us can be proud of.  I don't think it is any secret that we will be a very young team and a team that hopefully will get better as the season progresses.  My biggest fear right now is that we are not very big or aggressive.  With the style that we play being physical is an absolute must.  I imagine that we will get more physical as we gain more experience.  Only time will tell.
One of the biggest pleasures in coaching is seeing our players go to college and continue their playing careers. According to my count we have 10 players currently playing college basketball right now.  That's pretty incredible.  I would be willing to bet that there isn't a basketball program in Eastern Pa that has as many players playing college basketball as West. This tells me that our players enjoyed their careers with us at West and that we have prepared them to move on.
We have some big dates approaching and before you know it we will be tipping off for our first game. Our picture day and Alumni game are scheduled Nov 29th and our first scrimmage is Dec 2nd.  As always, former players are invited back to a practice or game anytime.
I am looking forward to our opening game with Delaware Valley and hopefully we will be fighting for a championship in February.  As always....
West Pride and Godspeed


Summer Talk

7-22-14 - We just completed our "Summer Tour" of team camps and tournaments and I felt that we accomplished, as a team, what we needed. The summer is a great opportunity for coaches to see what
their teams need to work on and what the most glaring weaknesses are and I felt that I was able to identify those areas which need the most work. It is easy 
to identify strengths but one of the most difficult things is to identify a team or players weakness and then get them to work on it and try to improve before the season starts. I have never been one to get too overly excited or alarmed after watching the kids play in the summer because the summer is the summer. Although your personal and team play in the summer can be somewhat of a gauge for the upcoming season it certainly doesn't define your team. 

Now is the time for players to really get to work on improving their own game. It is the one time where a kid should be thinking of just himself and not his team. The one and only time to be selfish is right now. Get in the weight room and make yourself stronger, go outside and shoot 500 shots each day, go work on your ball handling skills, etc. If you become a better player our team becomes a better team. Those players that put the time in now will reap the rewards in November. Those players that are not dedicated and too lazy to put the work in will be the ones in the hallway or locker room trying to discredit and tear down the players that have put the time and effort in. I think our players understand how tough and competitive the new league is going to be next season and hopefully we are ready for the challenge. We have an outstanding basketball program and one that I know the kids are very proud of. The torch has been passed to this younger group of players and it is their responsibility to uphold this tradition. 

We will give our players some time off come August. It is hard to believe but in just about a week the 2014 fall sports season will officially start practices. Seems like we just got out of school. Once we get back to school in September our team will start our intramural and weight training programs. 

Congratulations to Coach Williams and Mindy on the birth of their 3rd son. Time to put the brakes on. My wife and I are also on 24 hour baby alert. My daughter is expecting her 2nd son any day now and we will be going to Virginia for the birth of the baby (editor's note: Natalie & Brad Palmer welcomed Grey William Palmer into the world yesterday - pictures to come). This baby will give Jill and me 5 grandchildren. Need 4 more for a baseball team. As always....

West Pride and Godspeed
End of the season thoughts

2/27/2013 - We have just completed our 11th season at West and although it is not the way we would have liked it to 
finish, I am sure that when the kids look back on the season they will remember the good times and the big wins that they had this year. One of the most difficult things to do when you are playing or coaching is to turn the gear in at the end of the season.  There is such a finality about it that only those that experience it can relate to.  In our case it is almost always after a championship run of some type and this makes it a little more difficult as
far as the emotional aspect of it.  I am sure there are those teams out there that have not had a successful season that look forward to the last game but that is certainly not the case on our part.  As I told the players the other night in the locker room, there will always be enormous expectations for our players and basketball team.  Sometimes winning a championship or 20+ games is not enough.  I told them that we usually only make news when we lose games and although that might seem unfair it is a cold reality that comes with playing basketball at West.  There will be people
that are going to say "What Happened" and I told them that the response of all of us should be "Nothing Happened - except we won another MVC Championship, we won 20 games for the 7th consecutive year, and we did all this with only 2 players returning with any varsity experience".  I hate when I feel I have to defend my basketball program to people who basically know very little about us but there are times when I find it necessary to do just that.  I started coaching JV Basketball in 1982 with my good friend Dwight Repsher.  In the 32 years that I have been coaching I have never had a group of players overachieve like this group did.  I am very proud of their effort this year and I hope that the people that follow us are as
equally as proud.
We will be starting off-season weight lifting and skill work in a few weeks.  It is critical for our players to work on and develop their strength and skills in the off season. I think playing AAU games and tournament games in the summer is fine as long as you are developing and improving your skills.  I always tell the players that if you can't make a left-hand layup now, what makes you think that you will be able to make one if all you are doing is going to summer league games and not working on skills. I cannot emphasize or stress the importance of working on your individual game enough.  It is also extremely important for our underclassman to bear down in the classroom at this time.  When opportunity knocks and a college recruiter comes calling, you need the grades to get in the door.  Without good grades, you will not be admitted.  It's that simple
Right now I am still planning our summer schedule.  In addition to the individual skill work we will be doing at the school, we will also be competing in a few tournaments in the Allentown area.  I have tentatively set the West Basketball Camp dates for June 24 -27 and July 22- 25.  Our basketball camp has been very successful and it gives players a chance to experience a true basketball camp at a very inexpensive price.  To the departing seniors, good luck, it was a pleasure to have coached you and if you need anything you know my door is always open.  To the returning players, get to work, you have a huge tradition and responsibility to uphold.  Don't live off of other West teams and players success. Build your own.
As always..........

Old PM School, West Pride and Godspeed


So far so good & holiday wishes to you all

12/23/2011 - We have just finished a Brutal opening season schedule which has included 5 consecutive away games against quality opponents
. Going into the break we stand at 5-1 which
is probably where we thought we would be. We still have a ton of work to do and a bunch of things that we need to improve but I am very pleased with the effort of the players up to this point. Playing the kind of quality teams we have played so far will only make us better done the road. We are looking forward to our XMas tournament at Northampton and then finally having some home games. I know our players are excited but they have to realize that basketball is a long, long season and they must focus and take one game at a time. Our goal is to be playing in March, not packing up our gear in February.

As I have said many times, I am very proud of this basketball program
and the players and coaches that have been a part of it. Our players, coaches, fans, and school community can take great pride in this program and know that things are done the right way here.
I am going to give the players a few days off before we get back at it on December 26th.

Jill and
I are looking forward to spending time with our family over the Holidays
and are real excited that all 3 of our grandchildren - Jett - Sloane - Maeve- will be at our home for XMas. I gave my wife a strict dollar amount that could be spent on the grandkids but I am almost certain that she didn't listen. Oh well , I think that this is what grandparents are supposed to do.

The entire basketball staff would like to wish everyone
a safe and healthy holiday season and hope to see everyone at some of our games.

As always... West Pride and Godspeed

Our players have impressed me, our team goals, & the big picture when it comes to today's athletic culture

We just completed our 2 week tournament
/camp tour. I was very pleased with the kids effort and attitude both at Cedar Beach and at the ESU team camp. Our kids are not only the hardest working players
on the floor, they are also well mannered and very respectful when representing our school and basketball program. My observation from watching some teams and players the past few years is I see a general lack of discipline and self control from some. I am not saying that all our kids are Boy Scouts, I am just telling it like it is, and that is our kids not only work extremely hard on the floor but they play with a passion and deep respect for the game. I have been extremely impressed with this group of kids and the leadership that has been shown by some of our seniors. This group of players really seems to like one another and that is HUGE when trying to build team chemistry and camaraderie. Absolutely nothing can replace hard work and friendship when competing. There might be some times this year when we are physically overmatched but I think that the little things will really pay dividends for this years group of players. We have been the most successful basketball program in the District XI and our current group of players have demonstrated that they would like to see that continue. About the only thing missing from the resume of our school's basketball program is a District Chip. I don't know if we have what it takes to win that this coming year but I know that our goals are always the same - win 20+ games, win the league title, qualify for States, win the District Championship. Maybe we will get lucky this year and reach all our goals. The only way to do that is to continue to work hard and get STRONGER.

We had a bunch of players that attracted the college scouts at the Stellar Tournament a few weeks ago. It is always nice to see hard work pay off by having the players get some attention from the college
coaches. We have built a strong network of college contacts in the past 9 years at West and with our continued success I think that we will see more of our players' furthering their careers on the collegiate level. However, lets not lose sight of the big picture and that is just getting our players into college. Our players number one priority needs to be academics. If using basketball as the tool that gets them in college then great, but the academic part is what is going to get them to qualify. It just seems to me in today's athletic world that there is so much pressure on the high school athlete to get a scholarship. I certainly understand the economic benefits of obtaining one but people have to remember that they aren't handing these things out like one on your neighbors handing out candy onTrick or Treat Night. These "scholarships" are extremely, extremely, difficult to get. I just think that it is unfair to the high school athletes today to have to bear this burden of "getting" a scholarship. If you don't "get one" does that make you are a failure? I think not. I always laugh to myself when someone either says to me or I hear someone say "My kid is going for a Scholarship". What exactly does that mean? I am going for a scholarship. Something is seriously backwards in today's athletic culture. Every kid (at least those that can afford it) is either playing Elite Travel Soccer, AAU Basketball, Travel Baseball, Competitive Cheer, 7-on-7 Passing Competition, and Travel Softball, etc. I would like someone to show me and everyone else the actual number of kids that are getting scholarships from their participation in these activities. Don't get me wrong, I think there is a place for these types of competitions, but I think this has gotten way out of control. And before everyone starts saying I am anti-anything let me state that I coached AAU basketball back in the day when it really meant something. Does anyone work on skills anymore, or strength training, or agility, or do we just go out and play games? I would like just one parent to write down every dime they spend on sending their kids to these tournaments, stopping for gas, buying food, hotel rooms, etc . and spend that money on hiring their child an academic tutor. I would bet the kids chance of getting an academic scholarship would be much greater then the athletic one. Just my opinion.

We have our second week of West Camp coming up July 25-28 and we will continue to be holding open gym for skill work with our players until we return to school. Jill and I will be going to Delaware on vacation at the end of the summer and I am looking forward to spending time with my family. I am really looking forward to spending time with my grand-son Jett and pounding my son and son-in law in golf. It's hard to believe but we will be back in school in exactly 37 days.

As Always........West Pride and Godspeed

A note to my players, past and present

3.8.2011 - Been a while since I have written anything on the blog.  I will be writing a blog here and there now that the season has concluded and giving everyone some
insight and thoughts on different things. 
The first thing I would like to mention is my 400th win celebration/reunion. 

Certainly winning 400 games is  an outstanding achievement
and it is something that I will
always cherish but none of these wins would have been possible without the players, assistant coaches, and my family.  Players win games, not coaches.  I believe that to be true and will continue with that philosophy as long as I coach.  

I was deeply touched by the number of players that were in attendance at the game on the night of the celebration and by the hundreds of emails , text messages, and cards I received from former players, coaches, and friends.  I know that some players traveled long distances to be in attendance, and although it wasn't necessary, it certainly meant a great deal to me that you would take the time out of your schedule to do this for me.  So many of you told me how much I have helped you and how I have been a major influence in your life .  I am glad that I could help each of you in some small way.  Let me say that you have greatly touched my life as well.  I have learned just as much from each of you as you have given me credit for.  The players that have played for me have made me a better person and a better man and I thank each and everyone of you for allowing me to coach you.  It has been my privilege and honor to have coached you. 

As always ... Old PM School, West Pride
and Godspeed

A refresher on the NCAA academic eligibility requirements, getting ready for the fast approaching season, & competition for PT will run deep

10/21/2010 - I think both the Phillies and Yankees are in serious trouble.  I can't really say a whole lot more because my team is the KC Royals.  I will leave it at that.

next SAT testing date is November 6th.  I think that all athletes should be taking this test at least twice.  It amazes me with the number of kids that wait until they are seniors to take the test.  I am going to give everyone reading this the "minimum" qualifying scores a student- athlete must have to be eligible to play collegiate athletics.  In Division 1 athletics they operate on what is called a sliding scale. The following are some examples -  If a student has a GPA of 2.0 they must have at least a 1010 on the SAT's to be eligible to participate in D1.  If a student-athlete has a 2.3 GPA they would need a 900 on their SAT's.  In Division II the student-athlete must have a core GPA of 2.0.  The minimum SAT score is 820 and the minimum ACT score is 68.  If a student-athlete has one of the three they are considered a partial qualifier, which means they can practice and receive scholarship money but they cannot participate in any games their first year. It is absolutely amazing  the number of people that just don't understand that unless you have the grades or test scores you aren't going to be eligible to play collegiate athletics. A coach or guidance counselor can only do so much to help the kid get in.  My staff has been vigilant in monitoring our athletes academics and will continue to stay on top of their grades. However, the bottom line is that it is the athletes and their parents responsibility to make sure that their academic progress is where it needs to be and that they are getting their homework finished and studying for exams.
The players have been working hard and are getting ready for the season.  We open practice on November 19th.  It should be interesting.  I think our players have definitely got stronger and now our focus is going to be on speed and agility.  We have had a large number of college coaches stop by this fall to watch our players workout.  I think it's good for the kids to have the coaches in the gym watching.  As I always tell our players, they might be there looking at someone else but you might get noticed on
accident.  It is a good lesson for kids to learn.  You need to work hard every time you walk onto the floor because you never know who might be watching.  I think we are going to have some serious competition this year for starting positions and playing time.  I love when kids get after it in practice.  Sometimes you have a team where it is pretty cut and dry as to who starts and who plays the most minutes.  Not only is this team not "picked" we could have had a transfer or new kid that moved in or some
kid that didn't make the team last year who got better over the summer.  You never KNOW.  This years team will be competing on a daily basis for PT.  I need 13 players who are totally committed to this program and are UNSELFISH, do not care about their PERSONAL STATISTICS, and put our program FIRST.  If I can get this from the kids this year we could do some damage. 
Old School Ramblings -  Why is it today that kids think everything that is done at this moment or 5 years ago that it makes it the best.  I hate when people say that M. Jordan was the greatest player ever or LeBron James.  The greatest player ever was Wilt Chamberlain.  Wilt might not have won as many titles as some others but there was never an athlete who changed a sport
because of his dominance more then he did.  I can remember watching him play on T.V. (black and white, and you had to get up and actually turn the dial to change the channel) and how good this dude was.  I don't want to hear Bill Russell and all those bogus arguments.  Dippy never had the quality of players on his team like the Celtics did.  Back in the day they had territorial drafts and trades to make up their teams, not this crap that they do in the NBA today.
As always .......
West Pride and Godspeed

Anniversary weekend, a top-notch schedule, one of our own enters the coaching ranks, & introducing "old school ramblings"

9/7/2010 - My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this weekend at my daughter's house in Virginia . We went to the UVA/Richmond football game. The Cavs pounded Richmond but I think they will have their hands full this week at USC. We also went to the Al Green concert. You young whipper snappers wouldn't
know who AG is, but it was a great concert.

Our basketball schedule is now complete. For those of you familiar with scheduling games you know what a difficult task it can be to find games and at the
same time try to get quality opponents for your team. We will be playing Scranton High (made last yrs PIAA elite 8), Liberty High (made last yrs PIAA final 4), New Jersey state power Plainfield High, District 2 power Hazleton, an always tough Easton High, and William Allen -  who happen to be the favorites to win this year's District XI AAAA title. This is as tough as an independent schedule as we have ever played but one that I think will have our kids battle tested come February.

By the way, congratulations to my man Myke Zangwill (class of '06) on being hired as an assistant varsity basketball coach at Methacton High School. 

We will be starting our pre-season weight training and conditioning this week. The players that want to get better will be working out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The pre-season is just huge for the athletes. They basically have 2 months where there is NO pressure on them and they can work on their individual skills and strength training without anyone bothering them.

Old School ramblings - I don't know if it's just me but I rarely, if ever, see kids playing outside anymore. Whatever happened to kids getting together, on their own, and playing S.P.U.D., kick the can, or just having a pick up wifflle ball game. Aren't kids allowed to go out and play anymore on their own? Seems to me that parents think that unless they go out and organize it for them it won't get done. Nowadays if a kid wanted to go to the pond or creek and try to catch frogs or crayfish they would have to take 10 adults with them and a bunch of Coast Guard cadets just to make sure everything went smoothly. Just my opinion.

As always....

West Pride and Godspeed
Giving credit where credit is due & a big congrats to my daughter Natalie and
son-in-law Brad

8/19/2010 - Just wanted to give everyone a little taste before we get back.  Hard to believe
that fall sports started this week but the kids are back at it and working hard.  Our players will be starting their lifting/conditioning program as soon as we get back to school.  I was very impressed with some of our younger players this summer.  We had a bunch of kids who worked their tails off trying to improve their games and I really think that it will pay huge dividends for our team next season.  I really thought that 3 of our players stood out this summer and I would like to give them a little recognition.  The problem with doing this sometimes is that people get jealous and try to divide and cause controversy when in fact none exists. This is a much different world today then when I grew up and played, but I do believe that good always defeats evil.  But I am also from the old school and think that hard work, dedication ,and improvement should be rewarded.  I also think that it is good for younger kids to see and try to emulate players
who in fact do get better.  This is not saying that others did not get better during the summer, and we had a bunch of kids that did get better,  but these 3 players, I felt, drastically improved their games - Ty Dixon, Quindell Brice, and Gary Scott .  I think all three of theses dudes will be making huge contributions to our program next year.
I also would like to announce that , FINALLY, my wife Jill and myself will be grandparents.  My daughter Natalie and her husband Brad are expecting a child in March.  Hopefully the kid will play Golf.  As always.... West Pride and Godspeed
Individual improvement, The Stellar Tourney, ESU Camp

7/20/2010 - Its hard to believe
that the summer is almost over but the reality of it is that we will be back to fall sports practices in 25 days.  I have always been a strong advocate of kids playing
as many sports as possible and I hope we get some of our guys playing a fall sport. 
I think the summer days are the best opportunity an athlete can have for improving their skills and strength and I believe that in that regard we had a bunch of our players who improved in these areas.  I have told our players repeatedly that for our team to improve they have got to get better as a player.  It is Ok for us to be playing in tournaments and going to camps but unless each player improves his personal game our team will not improve. Playing in games and practicing individual skills are not the same thing.  I feel that to date we have had a very productive summer and we have had a bunch of our players really step up their games.  It is very easy to see when a player has improved and made progress in their individual game.  I have always told my players that I have been in this business a long time as a player and coach and it will be awful difficult to try and fool me.  The bottom line is that you have got to work hard to improve.
We had a great experience at the Stellar Tournament a few weeks ago and I was extremely proud of the effort the kids gave during the tournament.  If our kids learned anything from this tournament is that they proved they could be tough and fight through adversity.  I know that everyone wants to make a huge deal over the fact that the kids played so many games on Sunday to just get to the finals but that's not what impressed me.  What impressed me the most was the way they toughed it out in the heat and played as a group.  While other teams were dropping out and fatigue was setting in, our kids dug down and found ways to win and advance. They not only played hard and showed a lot of PRIDE, but they did it as a group. There was absolutely No selfishness or ego's involved.  It was an Old School, all for one, one for all effort.  I know their effort impressed everyone that was at that tournament and our team and players gained a great deal of respect from the people who were at the tournament.  There was around 1000 people watching the final and it was televised on SECTVI know next season that whenever we look tired or defeated I will bring up Cedar Beach. We also just got back from the ESU team camp where we played pretty well.  I think we had some guys that were a little worn out but I thought the effort was there and they had a good experience at camp.
We will still continue our open gym workouts until we return to school and then it will be back to the weight training and conditioning program starting in September.  I will be going to Florida with Jill in August for a much needed vacation and then I am going to go salmon and lake trout fishing with my son and son-in law on Lake Ontario. Although I hope we all catch
something I am pretty sure that I will be the only one bringing home any fish.  Hi Nat.  As always .....

West Pride and Godspeed

The Importance of the off-season

4/26/10 - First things first.  Congratulations to Coach Williams and his wife Mindy on the birth of their son, Brody.  The little dude looks like he is going to be a player.


Let's get everyone up to speed on our program.  We have been lifting weights and doing skill work for the past month.  Our players are lifting and working on their individual skills 3 days a week at school.  Our turnout has been very good. I am very pleased with the leadership some of our veteran players are showing.  Their dedication to the off season workouts and weight training is very noticeable to the staff and younger players.  If you want to lead, you do it by setting a good example.  We have a bunch of players involved in AAU basketball and playing for various teams throughout the state.  As I have always told the kids, I fully support them playing in the summer, but they also have to realize that they need to improve their individual games in the off-season.  This requires them to get in the weight room and to do skill work. If there is ever a time for a player to be selfish it is in the summer.  Each player must improve his strength and skills for us to be a better team next season.  We have some younger players who have made excellent progress in the past month and will be pushing some returning veterans for a starting job  and some quality playing time next season.  Working hard and competing against each other will make us better.  I believe that not one of our returning players has the luxury of coasting and thinking that they have a spot or PT locked up.  I have always played the best players regardless of their year in school and will continue this practice until I retire.  Nothing improves a teams chances of success more than having your players battle each other for playing time. We have got to improve this summer, both as a team and as individuals.   I have had some teams in the past who have had very high expectations for the upcoming season and just did not get the job done.  I have also had some players who got complacent and didn't do the things necessary in the off season to improve their games and had a disappointing season. We must be very careful and guard ourselves from repeating mistakes that others before us have made.  We must dedicate ourselves on being the absolute best that we can be. Our program has established itself as one of the finest in the District XI and the State. It is up to the players to continue to uphold this tradition by dedicating theirselves and making a commitment to the team and each other.  


As soon as I finalize some minor details with some schools I will release our independent schedule for next year.  I think that everyone will be quite impressed with our non-league schedule and the teams that we are going to play.  We will be attending a few camps this summer as well as playing in the cedar beach tournament.  We also will be having open gyms at the school 3 x's a week for player development.  It should be an exciting summer for our kids and hopefully one that is productive for us.  As always ....

West Pride and Godspeed

One great season, many thanks, addressing the haters, & the off-season

3/8/10 - Its been a while since my last blog so we have some catching up to do.  Unfortunately our season did not end quite the way we had anticipated for a number of different reasons.  I have never made an excuse for losing in my entire coaching career and I will not start now.  The bottom line is we just did not play as well as our opponents the last few ballgames.  I would like to redirect everyone back to the beginning of the year when most so-called experts said we would be lucky to finish .500.  Without the appearance of giving myself, staff, or players an "Atta Boy," I would most definitely have to say this year's basketball team far exceeded expectations.  With our top 8 players from the previous year graduating, this year's group did an outstanding job of playing together.  Our kids finished with a 20-5 record and played for the MVC championship.  Quite an accomplishment in my book for this group of players.  I think the thing that I am most proud of with this group is that they represent our school and program in such a positive way.  When some other programs/people talk about pride , honor, hard work, and the other intangibles associated with athletics that build character, our kids act on these.  We demand nothing but the best from our kids and they have risen to these demands.

I cannot possibly thank all the people that have supported us this year or for the past 8 years that West has been open but I would like to thank some of these people.  A special thanks to all the hard work and time that our assistant coaches put in with our players.  Coaching high school athletics has turned into a 365 days a year job and there is nobody out there that puts in more time with their players than the coaches at the West High School.  I would also like to thank Delmar McCaskill for his generous gift of NJ Nets tickets to our players.  It was a nice gesture on Del's part and our players enjoyed the game.  I would like to thank our seniors this year, Laurore Duclair and Chris Howard for their dedication and leadership.  And last, but certainly not least, my wife Jill.  Her support of me and the basketball program is unmatched.  On a somewhat down note I would also like to mention the very tiny faction of people that have tried to discredit what we are doing here at West.  Shame on you.  I have had very close friends of mine tell me to ignore these people but I can tell you that I will NO longer turn the other cheek.  I am tired.  I am tired of people that have absolutely NO clue of what we do here at West but would continually try to tear down the very foundation that we have spent years building.  These are the very same people who misrepresent theirselves in and outside the community for their own personal gain.  You will not succeed in whatever you are trying to accomplish.  For every one of you we have 500 supporters here.  My advice to you is to move on and take your business elsewhere because I will not allow you or anyone that is filled with hate and jealousy to ever penetrate our program. I understand that everyone likes to go after the top dog and to knock them off their pedestal but the way it should be accomplished is through effort and hard work, not the cowards way of trying to discredit honorable people.  For those people out there who would take offense to what I have written, my advice to you would be to take a hard look in the mirror.  Phew, I feel better now.

We have already begun preparations for next season.  In a few weeks we will begin our weight training program for all players not involved in a spring sport.  Weight training has absolutely become a necessity in basketball and unless our kids get stronger they will not reach their full potential as a player.   I will be meeting individually with all returning varsity players in the next week to go over this past seasons performance and how they can better improve their game.  This group of players has a huge amount of potential but they must outwork everyone else if we want to realize our goals for next season.  Without an offseason commitment from the kids we will stay stagnant and people will pass us by.  I have never had a group of returning players that has drawn such interest from college coaches.  I have been in contact with college coaches, on all levels, on a daily basis since the middle of January.  Our players need to understand the importance of working hard and maintaining and improving their academic standing.  The academic part of the recruiting process is SO big and I think that the players now fully understand that ability and academics go hand and hand.  If you don't have the grades, you aren't going anywhere - it is that simple.  To all of you who have supported us this past year and the previous 7 years - Thank You - your words of encouragement and support mean more than you can imagine.  I will keep everyone updated on our progress throughout the summer and am looking forward to the Stellar Tournament July 8-11 at Cedar Beach.  As always...

West Pride and Godspeed


Sportscene 13 interview with Coach Pensyl

2/15/10 - Coach Pensyl appeared on Channel 13's "Sportscene 13" to talk about his Panther basketball team with host Bob Capasso. Watch the video to see what he had to say...



2/8/10 - It amazes me how many people that live down south continue to try and convince me and my wife to move there because of the weather.  We have had about 2 feet of snow in the Poconos this year compared to the 5 feet they have been blasted with below the Mason Dixon Line since December '09.  Funny.  

Well boys and girls, this is the time of the year that we have all been looking forward too - the PLAYOFFS.  Our basketball team has put themselves in a position that we have an opportunity to make some noise this year.  The fact that we are currently ranked as the #1 team in the District XI is nothing short of a miracle.  All the credit goes to the players for their willingness to learn the system and for their continued hard work.  This basketball team is absolutely, without question, the surprise team in the entire District XI and it AIN'T even close.  However, sitting around and waiting for "Atta Boys" will get us absolutely nowhere. We are going to try and finish off what we have started.  Someone has to win the league and district championships, so why not us?  I'm not saying we will, but we certainly have an opportunity to win both of these titles if we play well the next 3 weeks. Our team has been battled tested and is ready for the stretch run.  We have played as difficult an independent schedule as any team in the District XI and have had some great road wins as well as wins in very close games this season.  I believe the players have kept a pretty good grip on things and they are trying to stay focused.  At this juncture in the season we don't need people telling them how great they are, how they should be doing this, doing that, blah, blah, blah.  We need friends, relatives, and community people to tell them they support them and to keep working hard. We can do all our bragging and celebrating at the end of March if we are fortunate enough to get a championship. What we want is for this team to advance to the state playoffs.  This is the goal and stage that our kids need to be thinking about.  It is also what all our fans need to be thinking about.  As I have told the team since the beginning of the season, there is absolutely NO pressure on us - No one expected us to win many games, let alone be contending for titles.  I think the single most important thing for us has been that we have only recently begun to speak of winning championships.  We entered this season with the single goal of trying to get better each day in practice, not constantly talking about winning championships.  I really believe that this has helped us remain focused.  We have our last regularly scheduled home game this Tuesday vs. Lehighton and then go to East on Friday for the last league game.  The worst we can do is finish second in the league.  Hopefully we can get the #1 seed in league play and then the semi-finals match up of the league playoffs will be played at WEST, where as most people know, we don't lose very often.  Nothing like home court advantage.

The next few weeks are going to be huge.  It should be a very exciting time for our program and fans.  If you haven't had the opportunity to get to a ballgame this year, get to the gym Tuesday and support the team.  Our crowds have been very good this year and our student cheering section has been outstanding (we also have a PEP Band this year).  We appreciate the support everyone has given the kids this year and hope that it continues. As always...

West Pride and Godspeed

Trying to stay warm & encouraging signs to end 2009

1/4/10 - Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and are finding someway to stay warm. I constantly ask my wife why we live in the Poconos in the winter. I hate the cold, I can't ski, I am a horrible ice skater, and I get too cold when I go ice fishing. I enjoy snowmobiling, but I don't have enough cash to buy one of them so I guess I'm stuck in the gym. I guess the only reason I live here in the winter is because I coach basketball. Don't get me wrong, I love coaching basketball at West and I love the kids, but as I always tell my assistants, they also have schools in the south where its warm. My daughter lives in Virginia and is constantly bugging me and Jill about moving down there. For those of you who have never been to West at 6:30 on a winter morning believe me when I tell you it is cold. We have 2 home games this week and I don't want our fans to use the cold as an excuse not to get here.  We play EBNorth on Tuesday and Pleasant Valley on Friday. The kids could use your support and I think everyone will enjoy the games (the gym is heated). We need to pick up two league wins this week to put us in contention for a league playoff berth. 

We finished 2009 with a 5-2 record and won the Northampton tournament championship. This is probably where I expected us to be at this point in the season. We have ironed out some problem areas but we still have a long way to go before I would consider us a serious playoff caliber team. Our foul shooting has improved but we are still not anywhere near as aggressive on defense as I would like to see. I think our players are finally starting to understand that in order to be successful you have got to play defense and knock foul shots down. Our win at Northampton the other evening was particularly satisfying because we played team basketball all night and executed at crunch time. For a young team to do this, especially on the road, was encouraging. If the players continue to work hard and to respect everyone they play, we might surprise some people at the end of the year.

The players and staff are looking forward to the 2010 schedule and hope that everyone will stop by to see a game. As always...

West Pride and Godspeed

"Little things" make a big difference & Coach Hall ties the knot

12/22/09 - We have just started our league schedule and unfortunately we dropped a tough game to Stroudsburg on Friday night.  After playing so well against William Allen in the beginning of the week, we showed our inexperience on Friday.  As I have always told our teams, you can't win unless you take care of the "Little Things" during games.  We shot just 2 for 11 from the charity stripe Friday and in order to win you not only need to shoot fouls much better than this but you need to get to the line more than your opponent - we did neither.  To Stroudsburg's credit, they knocked down the big free throws when they counted and handed us our first league loss of the year.  We must continue to work hard in practice everyday and get better each time we walk onto the floor. I don't think this message has totally sunk in yet but our entire team and staff was extremely disappointed the other night with this loss. We will do better in the future.  We need to remember this for the next time we play Stroudsburg but we also need to focus and get prepared for the ESS game Tuesday night.  We will find out real quick how tough we are and if we can bounce back from our loss the other night.

Our holiday schedule has us playing in the Northampton tournament on December 29th and 30th.  We play Dieruff on the 29th and then play on the 30th against either Northampton or Catty.  I always enjoy this tournament because it has quality opponents and the people at Northampton have always treated our players and staff so well.  After the tournament we will finally have some home games (the A.D. stinks at West).  We will start the New Year off with home games on January 5th against EBurg North and January 8th against Pleasant Valley. If you get a chance, stop by the gym and catch a game. 

On a different note, most of the staff will be attending Coach Hall's wedding on December 31st.  After all these years as a bachelor, Coach Hall has finally decided to tie the knot.  We wish him and Steph all the luck in the world and hopefully they will give us some children who can shoot the 3.  Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a very safe and enjoyable holiday season.  As always ...

West Pride and Godspeed


Questions answered during Nazareth scrimmage & holiday visits

12/4/09 - We are just concluding our second full week of practice and I am happy to report that we are finally showing some progress.  We scrimmaged Nazareth the other night and some of the questions/doubts we had about this team were answered.  I think the kids realize some of their weaknesses, as well as their strengths from the scrimmage the other night and have dedicated themselves on improving everyday.  We have a long way to go but I was encouraged by the play of our younger players. As I have told the team time and time again, we will not improve unless they work hard everyday in practice and "take care of doing the little things".  Hopefully my message is starting to get through to the kids.  As the season progresses I believe that all our fans will see a weekly improvement from this team.  Anything less than us being battle tested and ready for playoffs in February is not acceptable for this program.


Had a bunch of former players stop by the gym over the holiday and watch us practice.  The Zangwill brothers, the Leyro brothers, Calvin Arrick, Antre Cole, and Brandon Rudolphe all stopped by and of course gave me their expert advice on what we should be doing.  My man Jovan Smalls called me on TDay and promised to come by the gym for a workout.  Much to my surprise he didn't show.  Its always nice for the staff and current players to see and hear from former players and fans.  I have always believed that this is not only something that is important for the program,  but it is a necessity for the programs survival.  There is NO greater a compliment a former player can pay to a program then to return for a game/practice or show interest in the current team.


I am looking forward to next Friday's home game vs. Easton and hope that all of our fans will be there to support this young squad.  As always....

West Pride and Godspeed


Try-outs, a top-notch schedule, & a message to former players

11/25/09 - I would first like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and hope everyone enjoys the holiday with family and friends.  After 3 days of try-outs we have picked our teams. This is a very exciting time of the year for our players and staff because it is filled with a great deal of hope and excitement for a successful season.  The coaching staff is positive that we have picked teams that will be very competitive and eventually will help us compete for another championship.  Obviously our goal is to win the MVC championship this year and we feel that with hard work and a renewed sense of commitment from our players that we may be able to contend for the title at seasons end.  We will have one pre-season scrimmage this year on 12-1-09 against Nazareth H.S. and then we open our regular season against LVC power Easton H.S. on 12-11-09 at home.  Our independent schedule this year is very challenging but a schedule that I feel will help us at the end of the year come playoff time.  In addition to playing Easton we also have games versus LVC teams Liberty, Freedom, Emmaus, Allen, and Northampton and we have also added district 2 power Hazleton HS to this year's schedule. 


It's always nice to hear from or run into former players and a few weeks ago Coach Williams and myself were down at The Crossings and stopped in at the Nike outlet.  My man Kevin Gibson is running the store there. It was nice to see him again and to catch up on some things.  I always look forward to getting text messages and emails from my former players and fans of our program and hope this continues.  As always, all former players are always welcome back to games and practices and I encourage and hope that you men will continue this and to support our current team and players.


I am going to try to post a blog every week now to keep our fans up to date on West Basketball news.  If anyone would like to contact me email me at or call the basketball office, 570-839-7121 x81372.  Here's hoping everyone is safe.


West Pride and Godspeed

Welcome to the web site

10/30/09 -
I hope this finds everyone  well and in good spirits.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have visited the West Basketball web site.  Our booster club and Coach Williams have done an outstanding job with the web page and I hope everyone is enjoying it.  It is really nice to see that we have so many people interested in our basketball program.  I am certain our former and current players enjoy seeing their pictures on the site and bragging to their friends about how good they were or are. In a time when there is so much negativity in the world it is refreshing to have support for our program and players from so many of you.


Our entire staff is excited to get this season started . Our first official practice is November 20th.  Hopefully we will be able to field a team that is not only very competitive but one that all of our faithful followers can be proud of.  My goal is to not only produce a team that is capable of playing for a championship but to have players representing our school and program with class and honor.  Although this will be a very inexperienced team we put on the floor this year, I am confident that we will continue to demonstrate the pride and determination that has made us the envy of the league.


We greatly appreciate your support and hope that you find this web site informative and one that keeps you posted on the latest happenings in West basketball.


West Pride and Godspeed

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