Story by Daniel Woods

MARTINSBURG, W.Va – Ryan Miller hit the ground running when he was named the head coach of the Washington boys basketball team in the spring. With a young core of talented players, he sought to bring the group together in a hurry.

“We kind of tried to hit the ground running and that led right into the three-week window where we were able to be hands on with our guys and we traveled to two team camps to see what we had but really we didn’t have our system installed or anything like that so it was really just a bunch of guys going out there and playing. We did show some improvement from one team camp to another which was great and then mainly, in the fall we just tried to keep guys together whether it was in the weight room or condition in the gym,” he said.

Coming off of a strong freshman season for the Patriots, guard Kris Doleman is being looked at by the new coaching staff as a key leader on and off the floor.

“I met with Kris the night I was officially hired for the job. I told Kris that the on-court stuff will take care of itself but he needed to become a real leader off the court,” Miller said, “He’s not a real vocal kid. He’s quiet. He’s shy. He’s laid-back and I needed him to become more of a voice and he’s done that. He’s really responded.”

George Welti returns for the Patriots as well after anchoring the paint as a sophomore while newcomers DJ Boardley and Chet Gore join the fold from Spring Mills and Jefferson respectively. Miller believes that group can provide Washington with an edge on the boards that he can pair with a balanced scoring attack.

“I really think our bigs can be dominant on the glass and that’s where it’ll start. When you start George who’s 6-7 and Chet’s 6-5 and then DJ’s 6-4, Sean McCarthy’s 6-3, 6-4. We’re going to be pretty big in that aspect,” he said, “As far as scoring goes, through the summer and then the fall league that our guys played in we were super balanced. I think even in our first scrimmage against Millbrook, I think we had seven guys between 8-12 points.”

Regardless of talent, Miller is looking to build his program on hard work and that’s been his primary message as he attempts to establish a culture.

“It starts with work ethic.  I want people that want to be in the gym and want to work. I tell my guys all the time that if you’re not going to work and give me your all when you’re in the gym, I’d rather you just stay home and that’s real. Every day that you’re not in the gym working, somebody else is.”

The Patriots play their first game under Ryan Miller’s direction on December 7 at James Wood High School in Winchester.