As the 1993 team lowered the state championship trophy from their shoulders the Wahoo fans began planning their return to the Devaney Sports Center for 1994. If you asked them why they were so confident, they would have clicked off three reasons: Mike Hancock, Greg Hain, Travis Toline. Sure, they would miss fellow starters Joel Weyand and Justin Anderson, but getting back three players who all averaged over 10 points a game instills a lot of confidence.
When Coach Mick Anderson looked at the hand he was dealt to start the 1994 season, he knew he was holding three high cards. He was a little less certain about the remaining two he would have to draw. As he had done in the past, he discouraged comparisons with previous teams: “This won’t be a team like last year with all five starters scoring in double figures. We have three who have played a lot of basketball and they have to take it upon themselves to be the leaders.” Still, these three had all been starters on an undefeated state championship team, and they presented complimenting styles:
Toline was the very effective inside component of the Wahoo attack and his quickness and speed made him perfect for patrolling the inside of the Wahoo 1-3-1 defense and being a great finisher on the Warrior fast breaks. Could he perform in the big game? his recognition as an all-tournament selection following the 1993 tournament testified to that.
Hancock was the outside threat who had set the state tournament record for three pointers in 1993 and if that wasn’t scary enough, Coach Anderson indicated before the season that he thought Hancock had improved over the summer in his passing and defense as he played for the NBDA / Valentino’s team in Las Vegas.
Hain was the slasher who’s ability to penetrate the defense and finish at the rim put defenses in a quandary, especially after Coach Anderson noted that he had improved on his perimeter shooting. And if the Warriors were going to miss anything from 1993, it might have been Joel Weyand’s abilities at the point guard position where he had led Wahoo for two seasons. But Coach Anderson pointed out that Hain would be very capable of sliding over from the two guard, adding that Hain had done just that as he also had played for NBDA / Valentino’s the past summer.
With three tenacious defenders and potent scorers already on the court, it appeared that all Wahoo had to do was find two more bodies to put out there and opponents would have their hands full. As it turned out, Wahoo had much more than just warm bodies. The first probable option to fill out the starting lineup was no surprise to those who had been paying close attention at the end of the 1993 season. More often than not, freshman Mike Simons had found his way on to the court early in support of Wahoo’s regulars. As a sophomore, Simons added to his resume a stint with the NBDA / Valentino’s junior all stars the past summer. Coach Anderson smiled and called Simons “versatile.”
The final starting spot was somewhat up for grabs as the season started with seniors Sean Forbes, Louie Wotipka, and Chris Anderson having a shot, as well as sophomore Josh Anderson. Forbes would prove to be a capable three point shooter as would Wotipka. Anderson could shoot the three, and was a talented ball handler. As was by now expected of all Wahoo players, they would all contribute hustle and savy on the defensive end. In the end, the bulk of the playing time went to Wotipka and Anderson, each getting time in the starting lineup and coming off the bench.
When Coach Anderson laid his cards on the table that November, he saw a pretty good hand, but he wasn’t taking anything for granted. He acknowledged that his three returning starters were “a good nucleus to build around,” but also pointed out that the others would need to “blend in and work with them.” In the end, those cards proved to be even better than good; it would be a championship hand. The “last dance” would be a championship celebration.