Solid core helps new Leilehua basketball coach get started
Transition issues often go with coaching changes, but that’s not the case at Leilehua, where Pat Wetzel steps in for Keith Spencer, who left for Saint Louis School in the offseason after 14 years as the Mules’ head basketball coach.
Wetzel was an assistant throughout Spencer’s entire tenure and was an obvious choice for the job.
“It’s not a matter of reinventing the wheel or anything,” said Wetzel. “It’s the continuation of a process started by Keith. I have nothing but the best to say about him. He was a great mentor, and he prepared me for this moment.
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead our team this year. I’ve been preparing and trying to get our players situated and ready to go.”
The Mules can officially begin practice Nov. 15 with high hopes for another solid season after going 10-5 last time. That included a narrow loss to Farrington in the fifth-place game of league playoffs, which would have enabled the Mules to advance to their first state tournament since 2003.
“ It’s a good nucleus,” Wetzel said of his returnees, who include Josiah Caravallo, Dillon Pauu, Xavier Adger, Stockton Crowley and Richard Cherry. Pauu and Adger were starters and are fourth-and third-year varsity players, respectively. Post player Crowley was the sixth man.
“Between them, we have close to seven years of varsity experience,” Wetzel said of Pauu and Adger.
The Mules did lose starter Brent Lemon, who moved to Alabama, but Wetzel is high on several JV players who can move up to help fill the void.
“It’s a tough loss,” he said of Lemon. “He’s a great kid and a great basketball player. We have a great bunch coming up. We might not have a lot of star players, but we’ll be deep. We’ll have good depth and kids who can give us good minutes.”
Wetzel’s coaching staff will include assistants Russ Fitzgerald, Rudy Domingo, Gerald Caravallo (head JV coach) and Randy Sagon.
“Our philosophies are very similar,” Wetzel said. “We want to be sound defensively and rebound well and make sound decisions on the offensive side and value the basketball.
“It’s all about improvement,” he added. “(A state tournament appearance) is always the goal, but it won’t define us. If we can say we’re better today than yesterday, that’s how we’ll define success.”
The Mules will open their OIA Red West slate Dec. 7 at Waianae. As in past years, Leilehua also will take part in the Merv Lopes Tournament in Manoa during a two-week break from the OIA schedule.
Contact Jack Danilewicz at email@example.com.