CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The George Washington boys basketball team entered postseason play last March with 18 wins and looking to make it to a third consecutive Class AAA state championship game.
After the Patriots won a title in 2011 and a finished as runner-up in 2012, their 2013 endeavor was cut stunningly short in the sectional tournament by a Riverside team that had spent chunks of its season dealing with coaching controversies.
Add to that the loss of Luke Eddy - a two time All-State player, 2013 Mountain State Athletic Conference Player of the Year and winner of the last two Daily Mail Kanawha Valley Player of the Year awards - to graduation and it would be easy to understand GW Coach Rick Greene being a bit down these days.
Greene, however, is far from sad about the current state of hoops on The Hill. He said getting over the loss to Riverside was not a problem and that he expects players to step up.
"What I told everybody is I really thought that team overachieved by winning 18," Greene said. "(Riverside) just played better that day. We got over that. It's over. The guys coming back have to now step up where they were role players behind Luke and Austin (Breeden). They've got to step up and be the guys to make the plays."
One of the big reasons for Greene's good mood is a player on whom the Patriots will lean heavily. In fact, Jon Elmore was much more than a role player for one of GW's fiercest rivals - South Charleston - as a freshman and sophomore before attending Christ School, an all-male prep school in North Carolina, as a junior.
"Jon Elmore is really good. He'll help fill that void left by Luke," Greene said. "(We are) really fortunate. We found out the Wednesday or Thursday before (practice) started that he was going to come back home."
Greene said Elmore, who at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds has signed to join older brother and former SC standout Ot Elmore at Virginia Military Institute (where their father, former SC standout Gay Elmore, played and had his jersey retired), will be joined by fellow seniors Chris Kay (6-2) and Dominic King (6-3) as the leading men for GW.
"That's worked out really well. He's a great kid, very coachable. I've known him since he was in elementary school. He's always been in our neighborhood, so to speak."
Add 6-6 senior Cai Corena to that mix and Greene said the style of play GW had used in recent seasons will have to be altered.
"We're not as quick but we're long," he said. "We shoot it pretty well. It's going to be a little different defensively for us. We'll have to protect the arc and use our length to get pressure on the ball."
Greene also mentioned senior Alec Newman, juniors Alex Lewis and D.J. Staples, sophomores Drew Baker and Cam Hoston along with freshman Chance Blaney as players that would see action for the Patriots this season.
GW opens its schedule against crosstown rival Capital on Dec. 13 at home before a pre-New Year's schedule that also features Ashland Paul Blazer from Kentucky, Wheeling Park and Logan. GW then travels to South Charleston on Jan. 3.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.br...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.