New coach leads Woodland Hills boys into challenging Section 2
By Chris Adamski
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 11:52 p.m.
As a Churchill resident who spent more than a decade assisting George Novak in coaching the school's football team, new Woodland Hills boys basketball coach Odell Miller is no stranger to Wolverines athletics.
But as preseason practice began, he was a stranger to many of his new players.
Miller, most recently the coach at Wilkinsburg, was not hired until mid-September. Adding to the lack of a full offseason to get acquainted with his team was that many of its players also play football and were occupied by the Wolverines' run to Heinz Field for the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game Nov. 23.
“So you can imagine with the late start and with the football season, the amount of time that I've had so far has been minimal,” Miller said.
“But regardless of that, we are very optimistic about the season. I know the section is a brutal section, but I think we'll be competitive.”
Woodland Hills is the defending Section 2-AAAA champion. But gone from that 17-6 team are all of the starting five, as well as coach Mike Decker, who took a job coaching and teaching in Ohio.
Miller guided Wilkinsburg to the 2008 WPIAL Class A championship game as part of his three years as head coach there. He also was an assistant for a few years for some good Shady Side Academy teams under Terrance Parham, who now is assisting Miller at Woodland Hills.
“(Miller) knows what it takes to be successful and what it takes for a successful program,” said Novak, Woodland Hills' athletic director. “He has great experience basketball-wise. And we try to teach our kids there's more than just sports: We want to make better citizens, and I know he does it the right way and is a great role model for these young kids.”
Miller had only roughly half his team available for the start of preseason practices while the football season waged on. The Wolverines' most experienced players entering the season are 6-foot-4 senior swingman Tom Greene and 5-11 senior guard Ryan Thomas. Another senior who will play a prominent role is forward Juwan Turner.
Woodland Hills ranked third in WPIAL Class AAAA in scoring last season. Even without Shakim Alonzo, Miller intends to have the Wolverines run a high-tempo attack again this season.
“Woodland Hills is basically known as a football power,” Miller said. “Hopefully with a lot of hard work, we can have a school known for football and basketball.”
Wolverines girls aim high
Delrika Jones-Carey and Desiree Garland are both within striking distance of 1,000 career points this season.
They also intend on continuing to bat 1.000 when it comes to leading Woodland Hills into the playoffs.
Jones-Carey, a 5-10 guard/forward, and Garland, a 5-9 guard, joined the Wolverines as freshmen with the team coming off a last-place finish in Section 2-AAAA. Three consecutive playoff seasons have followed, and coach Korie Morton-Rozier has all but two of the significant contributors from last season's second-place team back.
“I have really high hopes for this year,” Morton-Rozier said. “I have four or five seniors this year that I'm counting on — not only the two big scorers — but all of them for senior leadership.”
Of the Wolverines' style, Morton-Rozier said, “We're definitely going to run. We're super athletic.”
And deep. Senior guard Rochelle Price-Wheeler is back coming off a knee injury. Junior guard Sarah Blotzer-Miller and senior guard/forward Adrienne Lawson also figure to start, with junior forward Aleaha Jackson one of the top options off the bench.
“We're really excited about the year, and we're ready to get this going,” Morton-Rozier said. “We definitely think we'll compete in the section and see what happens from there.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.