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Shoot the ball, Luke! Ruggery always has green light

Photo by Saint Francis Athletics (J.D. Cavrich): Luke Ruggery

Shooters shoot. They don’t need to be told when to shoot … usually. But occasionally, they do have to be reminded and encouraged to be a little more selfish by taking a shot.

Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel never had to be told to shoot the ball when he was playing for the Red Flash. He was an outstanding 3-point shooter for coaches Tom McConnell and Bobby Jones, making 40 percent (135-for-339) from deep during his career from 1996-000.

“Oh no,” Krimmel said with a laugh when asked about coaches having to remind him of having the green light.

Krimmel told a funny story Monday about redshirt freshman guard Luke Ruggery, an elite shooter from Bishio Guilfoyle Catholic High School in Altoona who is in his second season with the program.

Ruggery is an elite worker, but he was recruited to Saint Francis for one primary reason — to shoot the ball. He hasn’t had a ton of playing time this season but is in the rotation, and he’s made 4 of his 18 3-point attempts (22 percent).

That’s not a great number, obviously, but Krimmel knows Ruggery can shoot. So in practice Sunday, he had to “punish” the young man simply for not shooting.

“I thought at Sacred Heart he passed up some open looks,” Krimmel said. “He started shot faking and dribbling and doing all that stuff. And what he does really, really well right now is shoot the ball.

“So, we were at practice yesterday, and he passed up a shot. And I said, ‘Luke, get on the baseline. Just start running. You’re not gonna shoot the ball, I’m going to put you on the baseline and you’re gonna run.'”

It wasn’t really punishment, though, because Ruggery loves running.

“He wants to run, so he’s like, ‘OK, coach, I’m gonna run,'” Krimmel said.

“He ran the whole time with a smile on his face.”

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Ruggery did hit a big 3-pointer at the end of the first half in a game last week at Sacred Heart.

“I trust when he gets an open look he’s gonna knock it down, and it gave us a good lift going into halftime,” Krimmel said.

RELATED: SFU’s Ruggery a dancing TikTok star

Saint Francis has rarely redshirted a player, but Krimmel did that last year with Ruggery. The Red Flash had an outstanding team with a lot of guards, so Ruggery probably wouldn’t have played much at all.

But even though he was redshirting, Krimmel said Ruggery found a way to make a big impact on the program.

“I haven’t had a kid as a player, as an assistant, as a head coach who has impacted a program as much as Luke did without playing a single game,” Krimmel said. “It’s his work ethic. He is a tireless worker. He’s in the gym every day, he comes to practice with a great attitude, he works hard in the weight room, he’s a very conscientious student. Those are all things that are contagious.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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