GLEN DALE - John Marshall boys' coach Bill Storm says his current crop of players simply expected success to come easily last season.
If it's going to come this season, the middle portion of the schedule in which the Monarchs play Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central twice each, as well as Brooke, Morgantown and University in a 22-day span, will have a large say. Five of those games are on the road.
''This group wants to win but has to understand what it takes to win,'' said Storm, who has a 77-66 record at the school. ''I tell them 'success looks easy to those that weren't around when it was being earned.'
''We had four successful years in a row and this group thought winning just happens, but hopefully learned a lesson last year.''
John Marshall, which finished 7-16 and was eliminated in the first round of sectionals by Morgantown, is going back to a guard-oriented attack after the graduation of 6-foot-6 center Justin Wade, who averaged 19 points a game. Also gone are key contributors Aaron Fonner (7.3 ppg.), Tyler Brautigan, Luke Och, Tyler Crow and Kenny Allen.
''Last year we had to play to our strength which was pounding the ball inside to Wade, but this year we will have to go back to spreading the floor which is a system I am more comfortable with,'' Storm said. ''But it is going to be a challenge to compete against our schedule.''
Storm calls senior Evan Magers, a 6-1 wing, probably the best athlete on the squad. He scored 6.4 a night but will be counted on considerably more, particularly from beyond the 3-point line.
Seniors joining Magers are Ryan Davis (5-8), who ''had a great summer,'' and Derek Och (5-9), the point guard who started 19 games a season ago. Rounding out the class are Cole Sobutka (6-3) who will be the team's main post player, R.J. Kibert (5-10), who is ''the most competitive kid on the team,'' Dustin Whitfield (5-9) who will see a lot of time even if he doesn't start, and Mitch Whorton (5-10), a competitor on the junior varsity level last season.
Junior Tanner Filben (5-10) played every game and averaged 7.8 points while dishing out a team-leading 70 assists. All those numbers are expected to come up.
''He is also a 3-point threat and spends a lot of time in the offseason to improve,'' Storm said. ''He never misses a weight room session.''
The rest of the class includes Josh Smith (6-3), Alan Miller (5-10), Tyler Mason (6-3) and Cody Frazier (5-9).
Sophomore Hunter Sadoski (5-10) has worked his way into the Monarchs rotation with a big-time effort in the summer.
''(He) will see varsity time off the bench as a wing player,'' Storm said. ''He proved that he deserves varsity time.
''He has worked to improve his strength.''
He's joined by Nick Snyder (5-11), Alex Whorton (5-10), Ronnie Brown (5-11), Aaron Bishop (5-10), Michael Bland (6-1) and Jared Horan (5-9). Freshmen looking for time are 6-2 Kit Foster-Smith and 5-10 Noah Martin.
''We don't have any players being recruited right now, but we have a lot of players that are going to go to college for free,'' Storm said. ''Five players have already qualified for Promise scholarships and I would put that up against any team around. I just hope our intelligence can make up for our lack of size and quickness.
''I am really pleased with this group of kids that have been waiting for a chance to be team leaders. They are really excited to get started.''