W.VA. PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Dave Wojcik Is in His Second Season as Linsly Boys Coach
WHEELING — To say it’s been a long offseason wouldn’t do the 377 days that Linsly’s boys basketball team will go between games justice.
The wait, however, is coming to an end.
Year 2 of the Dave Wojcik era at Linsly will begin on Saturday when the Cadets welcome Weir, which ironically, was the Cadets’ final opponent last season.
“It’s just crazy,” Wojcik said of the extended offseason.
Linsly — like the entire state of West Virginia — saw its season put on hold twice by Gov. Jim Justice due to COVID-19 issues in the state.
During the basically four-month delay, Wojcik did his best to keep his team as “engaged” as possible.
“Our boarding students were able to come over (to the gym) and shoot and workout, but our day students couldn’t,” Wojcik said. “So, we had some and didn’t have some. Our spirits were up to start on Jan. 8 and then we got pushed back again, so here we are. I’ve told the kids, it’s our life right now. We’re not the only ones dealing with this. It’s not just in Wheeling or even in West Virginia. We’re all in this (COVID-19) boat together.”
Finally, on Feb. 15, West Virginia prep teams were able commence conditioning workouts and then a week later started their actual practices.
“I really like my team so far,” Wojcik said. “We have good size, very good length and we can shoot the ball well from what I’ve seen.”
The Cadets are coming off a solid 17-8 season. That win total was the most for Linsly since the 2002-03 season. They qualified for the OVAC Class 3A tournament before falling to eventual champion Fort Frye.
“I am a big believer in competing in everything,” Wojcik said. “I don’t care if it’s a sprint, free throws, a drill, etc., I want us to compete. And I am anxious to see how we continue to do that on a daily basis.”
Though Wojcik believes he can play upwards of 10 players in his rotation, he’s very upfront with his players about their hopes for minutes.
“The minutes are on the kids,” Wojcik said. “If they play their role, do their job and give great effort, they’ll play.”
And when Wojcik talks effort, he’s not just talking about playing hard in the game.
“I expect the first and second efforts, but I tell the kids I want the third, fourth and fifth efforts,” Wojcik said. “When we get everyone going with those types of efforts, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
On top of the effort and intangibles, the Cadets have a talented roster, which certainly helps, too.
Senior Hunter Kelley (6-5) leads the list of returnees after a 2019-20 season in which he averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds a night.
The top returning scorer is junior Caleb Murray (6-0). He came off the bench a season ago to net 10.1 points and pull down 2.1 rebounds a game.
Sophomore Nathan Coleman (6-4) showed flashes last season of his ability and Wojcik hopes Coleman can double his production of 5.2 points and 5.3 rebounds from a season ago.
Junior George Donovic (6-2) saw valuable action in the backcourt last season, averaging 5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Sophomore Luca DiLorenzo (5-8) had a solid rookie season off the bench and will help again this season.
Two newcomers to the Cadets program could be immediate impact guys.
Junior Raef Wykes, who hails from Ontario, will be a “combo guard” for the Cadets.
“He can do everything,” Wojcik said. “He can really score the ball. He can shoot it, he’s powerful, takes people off the dribble and he loves contact.”
Senior Max Washington (6-7) played last season at Morgantown and will take on a significant role for Linsly. He will play the small forward spot.
“Max is a tough matchup for people,” Wojcik said. “He has skills. He can handle the ball and shoot it. I don’t like to box guys in (position wise), so he can play and three and four.”
Senior Pamir Akin (6-5) is another returnee who could take on a bigger role. Another returnee who saw increased minutes as the season went along a year ago was sophomore Jy’Leik Johnson.
Also on the varsity roster are senior Dylan Dunlevy (6-0), junior Jon-Michael Falbo (5-9), freshman Asher Higham (6-3), sophomore Carter Anderson (6-3) and sophomore Denali Jackson (6-1).
“I think we can go pretty deep,” Wojcik said. “I usually tell the kids to get in my rotation, they need to get into the top eight, but I could probably could about 10 deep this year. So, if we do have some injuries or foul trouble, we have the depth to overcome that.”
Wojcik is being assisted by Dave Koehler and Bubby Goodwin.