BUCKHANNON – It will be a new era starting with a familiar face for the West Virginia Wesleyan men’s basketball team when they take the court tonight in the IRMC/Hilton Garden Inn Classic at Indiana (Pa.) University.
First-year head coach Nick Patella makes his return to the West Virginia Wesleyan bench after serving as a graduate assistant coach from 2007-09 and as assistant coach during the 2009-2010 season.
The Bobcats will tip tonight with No. 11 Indiana (Pa.) Crimson Hawks at 7 p.m.
“It's great to be back and in this capacity,” stated Patella. “I've always wanted to serve Wesleyan in this roll. I try and take it day-by-day and not get caught up in the highs and lows. This is a beautiful Institution that has given my family and me so much. I'm just thankful I have been afforded this opportunity and hope to make the College proud.”
Patella will inherit a team that won just 12 games last season and a senior class that has never had a winning season before in the Orange and Black.
“We'd love to send our seniors out with a winning record,” noted Patella. “They are all great
leaders and contributing members to our team. I think they deserve a winning season. That is our long-term goal. We have already achieved several, internal, short-term goals. The seniors are leading by example and we're all taking small steps to become better people. We try and celebrate the little things in life like every day decisions.”
Patella certainly has a talented bunch of returning seniors on the team in Clay Todd, Luka Petrovic, Dusan Vicentic, Marcus Larsson and Jacob White.
Vicentic led the team in scoring last season with 13.8 points per game and in rebounding with 4.9 per contest.
Petrovic led the MEC last season in assists with 5.7 per game and in steals with 2.4 per game.
“All the seniors will be leaned on heavily,” remarked Patella. “We have a couple of juniors in the mix and have to have some help from a few sophomores who are looking to improve on freshman years if we want to be successful. Our freshmen aren't going to see much time this
year just to the fact that we have so many good returners. They'll continue to get better in practice and we'll determine some futures as we progress throughout the season.”
Following their game tonight with Indiana, they will face Pitt-Johnstown Saturday at 8 p.m.