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Ohio Valley well represented in college hoop coaching ranks

October 17, 2013
By RICK THORP - Times Leader Sports Writer ( , Times Leader

Midnight Madness just doesn't have the same feel this year.

Yes, a number of schools will still conduct their familiar mid-October, nationally-televised showcases Friday night with all the high-flyin' dunks and students shooting half-court shots for cash with Dickie V on the mic.

But they don't have to.

An NCAA ruling passed last spring moved the start of practice for men's teams to six weeks before their first regular-season games. The season opens November 8, so teams started practicing September 27.

Proponents of a longer pre-season practice period say quality of play in early-season games will be improved. And, considering that scoring in Division I was at a historic low last season, that's welcome news for many.

But low-scoring games weren't norm around here, especially if you travelled up to West Liberty to watch Coach Jim Crutchfield's Toppers'. West Liberty had the No. 1 scoring offense in the country - nearly 103 points per game - en route to another Elite Eight appearance.

And there's no reason to believe the Toppers will be slowing down anytime soon.

West Liberty has helped put the Ohio Valley on the national basketball stage. But there are a number of individuals with Ohio Valley ties working their basketball magic across the nation as the 2013-14 campaign gets under way.

Out west ... way out west ... one of Crutchfield's former assistant's, Eric Bovaird, is entering his third season as the head coach at Chaminade in Honolulu.

Last season was a memorable one for the Silverswords, who turned the EA Sports Maui Classic upside down with a first-round upset of Rick Barnes' Texas squad. Chaminade went on to finish 19-11 and advanced to the D2 West Regional.

A little farther east, in San Jose, Ca., former Wheeling Central head coach Dave Wojcik is in his first season as the head coach at San Jose State.

It's a well-deserved opportunity for Wojcik, who's spent the better part of two decades, sans his tenure at Wheeling Central, cutting his coaching teeth as an assistant in the college ranks, most notably with Lefty Driesell, Dino Gaudio and the late Skip Prosser.

Wojcik spent the last three seasons as associate head coach at Boise State. The Broncos made the move to the Mountain West Conference two years ago and the Spartans are making the move to the conference this season.

Wojcik is part of only seven brother coaching duos in NCAA Division I. His brother, Doug, is entering his second season at the College of Charleston.

In his first season, Doug Wojcik guided the Cougars to a 24-11 mark and an appearance in the CBI. Charleston joins the Colonial Athletic Conference after advance to the finals of the Southern Conference tournament last season.

Doug Wojcik will be assisted again this season by Bishop Donahue High School graduate Joe Wallace.

At Winthrop, Prosser's son, Mark, is in his second season on Head Coach Pat Kelsey's staff. This season, however, he's been promoted to Associate Head Coach.

Joining the Wojciks as former Maroon Knights in the coaching ranks is Ricky Yahn, the ex-Wheeling Jesuit standout is in his first season at NAIA Concordia University, located in Ann Arbor.

Most recently, Yahn was an assistant coach at Longwood University. He's also had stints at Cornell University, as video coordinator at George Mason and at Saint Vincent College. At George Mason, Yahn worked under current University of Miami head coach Jim Larranaga.

Yahn's first game coaching the Cardinals will be a biggie. Concordia will travel across town for a preseason tilt October 29 against defending national runner-up Michigan, led by WJU alum and former West Virginia University head coach John Beilein.

And, sometimes, you don't even have to be coaching to still be making an impact. Look no further than the Atlantic 10 Conference where Yahn's former coach at WJU - Jay DeFruscio - is an associate commissioner for the league, in charge of the men's basketball regular season and tournament.

Despite losing a few teams, the Atlantic 10 remains strong, with 13 programs and a postsaeson tournament anchored at Brooklyn's Barclay's Center.

Thorp can be reached at



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