Local Sports, Sports, University

Undersized Hawks look to be faster, more skilled than in years past

MORGANTOWN – There’s some good news for the University boys’ basketball team in the 2022-23 season.

The Hawks return seven players from a team that went 16-9 before losing to eventual Class AAAA state champion Morgantown in the regionals last year.

There’s also some bad news for UHS. Of those seven players that return, they account for only about five percent of the offense from last season.

That means scoring could be by-committee for head coach Joe Schmidle who enters his ninth year at the helm of the Hawks.

“We have some kids who have really worked their tails off and have gotten better,” Schmidle said. “It’s all going to depend if the kids can play together and be patient on the offensive end. If we do that, we can win some games.”

While the Hawks lack a proven scorer at this point of the year, they are deeper than in past seasons as Schmidle said he can see playing as many as 10 players on a given night. The starting lineup might also fluctuate, especially early in the year, as Schmidle said he has two players penciled in as starters with seven other players vying for those three other spots.

University did get an injection of scoring when senior Caden Farrell transferred in from Preston. He led the Knights in scoring last year and Schmidle said he expects Farrell to have a good season.

James Fortney-Garbart, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, is also expected to be a consistent scorer for the Hawks while Rafael Barcinas, also a junior, started at the end of last season and is more of a scoring point guard as well.

UHS could also struggle on the glass as they have just three players listed at 6-foot-4.

“We don’t have a real true big man,” Schmidle said. “We are going to have to work on rebounding and concentrate on defending the three.”

Landon Cool, a senior guard, is someone that Schmidle said can provide a physical element for UHS, while juniors Luke Hudson, John Coleman and Carson Ford will all provide some height as each of them does stand 6-2 or better. Senior Charles Nemecek, 6-4, along with 6-5 sophomore Zach Demidovich will likely man the middle for UHS while sophomore Demarcus Bandy, a 5-11 guard, can provide some athleticism.

“I am excited about this team,” Schmidle said. “They remind me a lot of the 2018 group. I didn’t have anyone over 6-2 that started for us but we were very quick and skilled and hard to defend. That group went 25-2 and lost in the state semifinals.”

A repeat performance of the 2018 squad would be welcome for Schmidle but he did say this team will face a stiff schedule that begins on Tuesday when the Hawks host Buckhannon-Upshur at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Schmidle said. “We can probably roll out three, four different lineups. We have been so big the last several years that we haven’t been able to press. We are going to be doing a lot of pressing this year. The nice thing is, we can play nine or 10 different guys and not miss a beat. That leads to very competitive practices and that is okay because that makes us better.”


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