Sometimes a point guard is asked to be a distributor. Other times a point guard is asked to chip in and help out with scoring. And sometimes, a point guard is asked to be the team's leader and do a little bit of everything.
Chris Barletta was all of that and more for the Marian Colts' basketball team this past season.
The Colts' senior point guard contributed in every way possible in 2010-11 and had a major hand in his team's 20-6 overall record. Barletta's season-long effort culminated in the District 11 A championship game against Mahanoy Area. As one would expect, Barletta came up huge in the biggest game of the year and dropped a game-high 24 points en route to helping Marian capture its second consecutive district title.
Still, Barletta's contributions to the Marian program can not be measured by just one game. He was outstanding throughout the entire season and led the Colts to their second straight 20-win season. Because of this, Barletta has been recognized with the TIMES NEWS Basketball Player of the Year award.
"It is an honor, but I definitely couldn't have done this without my team," said Barletta. "They are my family. None of this would be possible without their help.
"I will always remember this year's district championship game. It was a great game. (Ryan) Gimbi dunked. What may have been even more memorable was our first game against Mahanoy Area because it went into double overtime. I remember getting in my car afterward and thinking, 'We finally beat them.'"
Marian entered the year having lost 65-percent of its points, 66-percent of its rebounds and 67-percent of its three-point field goals from the 200-9-10 District 11 championship team.. Due to the heavy losses, rookie head coach John Patton sat Barletta down before the season and told him that he needed him to be more assertive on the offensive end.
"I told him that he needed to become more of a scorer," recalled Patton. "He and I spent a lot of time together and we talked before the season. I told him that he and Ryan Gimbi needed to be our leaders. They needed to help the other guys along.
"Before this year he was probably more or a true point guard and was more of a distributor. That is fine because that is what we asked of him, but I told him that now he needed to look to score more."
Barletta obliged. He raised his scoring average from 10 ppg. a year ago to 16.56 ppg. this season and posted 20-or-more points in eight different games.
Barletta didn't just score though. He did a little bit of everything. Obviously, he dished out assists and averaged 5.56 for the year. He would also crash the boards and grab rebounds (4.6 rpg). All of these things came together on Jan. 31 in the form of a triple double against Mahanoy Area. Barletta went for 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
It wasn't all about offense with him either. According to Patton, Barletta became a much better and more aggressive defender. He wasn't afraid to play defense and apply good ball pressure. His hard work paid off in the form of nearly 2.5 steals-per-game.
Despite being asked to change his role, Barletta says he never changed his mind-set.
"To be honest, I didn't change at all," said Barletta. "I know it may sound weird, but I just did whatever I needed to do. Some games I needed to score. Other games I needed to distribute and run the offense. All I tried to do was make sure that the things that needed to get done got done.
"I am just glad that we were able to win another District 11 championship. It is nice to know that my teammates and I were able to bring two championships to Marian. I never forget my teammates. This team has been my backbone for the last three years."
Ever since Barletta transferred into Marian as a sophomore, the coaching staff knew they had something special. He scored 24 points in his very first varsity game against Panther Valley and never looked back. 933 points later, Barletta leaves Marian as one of the greatest basketball players to ever come through the program.
"I have seen some good players come through the program in my 12 years," said Patton, who served as a varsity assistant for more than a decade before taking over as head coach this season. "Chris is definitely one of the top three players that I have ever had the fortune to coach. He does so many different things on the court and I think that helps separate him from the rest."
Barletta hopes to continue his basketball career at either Castleton State College in Vermont or Susquehanna University.