Last season marked a return to the playoffs for the Nevada Union boys basketball team, and with All-Sierra Foothill League selections Ian Davis and Cody Gardner returning along with 6-foot, 8-inch post player Lucas Vojak patrolling the paint, expectations are high for the Miners.
Nevada Union boasts eight seniors on its squad this season, six of whom saw significant playing time as juniors.
“When you have a core of six kids coming back that played a lot of minutes, you are an experienced squad,” NU head coach Jeff Dellis said. “When you throw into that mix a Nolan Stefani, who scored 14 points in the foundation game, it’s pretty exciting.”
Stefani joins Davis and Gardner to create a formidable back court for the Miners.
Last season Davis led the NU offense, scoring 14.1 points per game and dishing out more than two assists a game.
“Ian is a three-year varsity starter coming off a phenomenal football season,” Dellis said. “Ian has a very high basketball IQ. He sees things on the floor, and it’s very impressive the reads he makes.”
Davis, a two-sport star at NU, caught 77 balls for 1,305 yards and 11 touchdowns for the football team.
“Ian’s burden this season is beyond scoring and defending,” Dellis said. “He needs to make his teammates better. And that will be critical to our success. He is experienced enough and good enough to make his teammates better. If he does that, then sky’s the limit for us.”
Gardner, a senior guard and physical defender, will also be a critical cog in the Miner machine this season, said Dellis.
“Cody can play any position from one to four,” Dellis said. “He can defend 6-6, 6-8 players effectively.
He has a huge upside, and we are really depending on him.”
The biggest question for the 2012-13 version of the Miner basketball team will be the play of junior post player Vojak.
“Lucas is an athletic kid with good hand-eye coordination for a guy his size,” Dellis said. “He has no idea how good he can be. He is capable of playing beyond high school. His defense has progressed faster than his offense, which is not unusual. What we are asking of him offensively is tough. We are asking him to expand his complete game rather than just being a post only scorer.”
Vojak played significant minutes as a sophomore, grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game and scoring 4.5 points per game last season.
Joining Vojak in the post will be Brandon Dellis and Cole Hannum.
Brandon Dellis saw action in 13 games last season and provides a big body down low.
Hannum, a transfer from Marysville High School, averaged 7.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season for the Indians. At 6-feet, 3-inches, Hannum is under-sized for a post player but makes up for it with his strength and athleticism, said Jeff Dellis.
“Cole is an exciting athlete,” he said. “He has a lot of upside, and as he learns and establishes a role, we will see his minutes go up.”
While the Miners have experience at the shooting guard and post positions, a glaring hole has been left at point guard with the departure of Josiah Paye.
“We are doing it by committee right now,” Dellis said. “McKay Ritchie has stepped up and improved as much as anybody, and he is deserving of minutes.”
While Paye never filled up the stat sheet, his leadership on the floor is what will be missed, said Dellis.
Last season, the Miners finished the season 16-12 overall and 6-4 in the SFL, good enough for a playoff berth. NU was bounced in the first round by Jesuit.
The Miners will use last season as a building block for this season and bank on their experience and athleticism to make another run at the playoffs.
“We are long, we are athletic, and we are experienced,” Dellis said.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org