December 5, 2018

Emphasizing Attention to Detail, Competitiveness, Sharlow Starts Tenure as PDS Girls’ Hoops Coach

By Bill Alden

Liz Sharlow first got the itch to coach while playing for the Lehigh University women’s basketball team from 2012-2016.

“We had a camp each summer, usually at the end of June, and that is when I really started enjoying coaching the younger girls,” said Sharlow, a four-year performer and a senior captain for the Mountain Hawks.

Her desire to get into coaching was reinforced when she stayed at Lehigh to earn a masters degree in school counseling and worked as a grad assistant for the school’s Varsity Strength and Conditioning team.

“It was such a great experience for me,” said Sharlow. “They actually trained some high school teams through outside stuff. It was really fun for me to see those interactions and that is when I really realized that I wanted to do it.”

Sharlow found a great fit at PDS as the school had an opening for middle school counselor and a girls’ basketball head coach.

“It really has a nice family feel to it; all the faculty and students work so well with one another,” said Sharlow, reflecting on her first impressions of PDS.

“Everyone was so kind and welcoming; it had a nice home feeling to it so I think that is what really drew me. It has a very similar feel to what I experienced at Lehigh with the strong emphasis on academics and a balance with athletics.”

There is a family feel to the girls’ basketball program as Sharlow is guiding fewer than 20 players overall.

“We are a smaller team this year, we have 15, 16 girls for two teams, JV as well, so that is something we have been working through,” said Sharlow.

“I came into preseason and had tryouts and we are definitely going to have to make adjustments managing the girls and being able to have two teams.”

As her players make adjustments, Sharlow believes they will benefit from the process, on and off the court.

“It is the life lessons and the stuff you can gain from it; that is what I am trying to instill in them,” said Sharlow. “It is also about being good representatives of the PDS community in all that we do, including basketball.”

The Panthers will be undergoing a youth movement by necessity this winter.

“We have a lot of young girls with our starting five, we have two freshmen, a sophomore, a junior, and a senior,” said Sharlow, noting that senior star Brooke Smukler is currently sidelined with injury.

“There is a lot of room for growth. I am hoping their confidence will grow as their experience grows.”

A pair of freshmen, Madeline Nowack and Elle Anhut, are showing growth in the backcourt.

“Maddie has been our starting point guard, she has shown a lot of good things,” said Sharlow, whose team started the season last weekend by going 0-2 at the Hill School (Pa.) Tournament, falling 56-11 to host Hill and 44-11 to Cristo Rey (Pa.).

“A lot of things she has to work on are due to her lack of experience and with experience, she will be more confident. Elle has been doing a great job for us. She is a great athlete and she has been stepping up defensively for us.”

Getting her players to be all in at the defensive end is a big deal for Sharlow.

“That is another thing I hope the girls are starting to catch on to, we are really putting an emphasis in the importance of defense,” said Sharlow, whose other starters include sophomore Caroline Topping, junior Maggie Amaral, and senior Gwen Allen. “We have to let our defense fuel our offense.”

Looking ahead, Sharlow is emphasizing attention to detail and competitive toughness.

“I have been trying to make them realize if you do the little things, like boxing out, getting rebounds or loose balls, and hustling, that is how you are going to compete and stay in games,” said Sharlow, whose team plays at Pennington on December 5 before hosting the George School on December 7 and Hun on December 10.

“I am hopeful that they understand it is not necessarily being the more athletic or the more skilled one, but just being ready to compete.”