WEST CHICAGO - Though its final record might not indicate it, the West Chicago boys basketball team wasn’t all that far from respectability last winter.
Now the challenge ahead is trying to take the next step, a process that coach Bill Recchia believes started in the offseason.
“I think the key is, the belief started this summer,” Recchia said. “They started to expect to win these games and I’m hopeful that we are grasping that now. We are not in games to see how close we can get, we are in a game to win it.”
A main source of optimism lies with the return of senior John Konchar, who did it all for the Wildcats in 2012-13. He averaged 19.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
“I see an improved John Konchar,” Recchia said. “He has really stepped up his defensive game. He is all over the floor and I look for his offensive contributions to be at the same, if not a higher, level than they were last year.
“I see an exciting year for John and for us. He is extremely unselfish and really gets all his teammates involved.”
Also returning with some experience are seniors Ethan Doell, Ryan Orr, Mitch Henke and Marco Lomibao. Sophomore Mikey Bibbs should be an immediate contributor as well as Randall Kane, a transfer from Glenbard West.
“I look for a complete, collective team offensive attack,” the coach said. “And we really want to play hard defensively. That is something we are trying to work on every day, it’s an important part of the game.”
So far, Recchia couldn’t be more pleased with his group.
“I tell you what, from Day 1, they have been working their tails off,” he said. “They have not had to be asked to work hard, which is nice. They come out every single day and work as hard as they physically can. They are a joy to be around.”
One major change is the Wildcats are beginning their first year in the Upstate Eight Conference after leaving the DuPage Valley Conference.
“It’s kind of like we are on a two-year plan with this,” Recchia said. “This year we get to visit all the gyms of the Valley [division of the UEC] and next year, we will visit all the gyms of the River [division]. It is always fun going into new gyms to play. And every night we are going to be playing good competition.”