LOGAN, W.Va. — At only 30, Zach Green brings in some youthful enthusiasm to the storied Logan High School boys’ basketball program.
It’s the first head coaching job for Green, a former assistant coach under ex-coach Mark Hatcher.
Green replaces Hatcher’s dad Allan Hatcher, who led the Wildcats last season but was forced to step down due to health concerns.
Green said he knows the task will be difficult as the Wildcats are in a bit of a rebuilding mode.
The talent is there, however, and Logan hopes to have a successful first season in the Green regime.
Stepping into the head coaching role, though, has its pitfalls.
Being the head coach at Logan brings a lot of pressure.
Logan has won seven state championships in its history and the yellow title season signs hang atop of Willie Akers Arena — a reminder of what Wildcat fans home come to expect from its program which is steeped in tradition.
Green said he thinks his first team at Logan will eventually have what it takes to compete for a state tournament spot come March but he knows it will be a long tough journey.
So far, things have gone very well for the Wildcats in the preseason although it’s not all been perfect.
One of those areas his team needs to work on is free throw shooting, Green said.
“Already have seen a few grey hairs,” Green joked, when asked about his team’s foul shooting.
Green came to Logan during the 2003-04 school year as he and his brother Lou Green transferred from Scott High School.
The Greens helped Coach Mark Hatcher’s Wildcats make it to the state tournament for the first time since 1995 as Logan finished 17-9 and eventually lost a 42-40 heartbreaker to Bluefield in the Class AA state quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
Green then went to Alderson-Broaddus College, where he starred for four years for the Battlers’ basketball team before coming back to his alma mater Logan where he assisted head coach Mark Hatcher for five years.
Last year, Green spent the season away from basketball.
Now, he’s back at Logan.
“I’ve been around basketball my whole life,” Green said in an interview with the Logan Banner. “This is my first head coaching job and it’s at a very well known prestigious program. It’s been a little bit surreal but I’m extremely excited to get started.”
Green will have some work to do.
The Wildcats struggled most of last season, finishing just 10-14 and had trouble putting the ball in the hole. The Wildcats still were close at making it to the state tournament but lost 53-41 at Hurricane in last year’s Class AAA co-region championship game.
Logan also lost senior starters Augustine Chukwu-Noe, Khalil Murphy and Ben Kazee to graduation.
Logan has suffered three losing seasons in the last four years, something virtually unheard of in the rich tradition of Wildcat basketball, which has won seven state championships in 1964, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1991, 2005 and 2010.
Following Logan’s state title in 2010, the Wildcats reached the state tournament in 2011 and 2012 but have been absent from the Big Dance ever since.
Other changes will be coming to Logan High School basketball for the upcoming 2016-17 season as well.
The Wildcats are heading back down to Class AA ball for the first time since 2008. LHS has been a Triple-A school for most of its existence and competed in West Virginia’s highest classification the last eight seasons after being a 2A school from 2003-08.
Green said he will be following in the footsteps of some pretty big shoes with former Logan head coaches Mark and Allan Hatcher and the legendary Willie Akers of yesteryear.
“That’s surreal and I’ve got a long road ahead of me,” Green said. “There’s going to have to be a culture change within the program. We’re all excited to get started. But there is a huge void there, coming in behind guys like Allan, Mark and Willie. Allan has won more games than I have ever coached in. Those are huge shoes to fill but we are excited. We can’t wait to leave our mark on Logan High School basketball.”
Green said so far so good during the preseason practices and scrimmages. His Wildcats are ranked No. 9 in the state in the Class AA preseason poll.
“It’s been a really good experience,” he said. “There’s a lot of growing pains coming in. There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that you don’t see necessarily when you are coaching as opposed to when you are an assistant on the staff. But I’ve been very fortunate to have a good group of seniors. I’ve pushed the younger kids to show them what I want.”
Fuji Williams, Brandon Browning and Patrick Beddow are on Green’s staff.
“Fuji Williams and Brandon Browning were here before with Mark and Allan so those are two guys with some experience,” Green said. “Patrick Beddow is my third assistant. We hired him. He’s worked with a lot of our weight lifting and conditioning and has really pushed the kids hard.”
Logan is set to open the season Friday night at home against the Scott Skyhawks in a Cardinal Conference game.
“We’re young but we’re trying to make up from our inexperience with enthusiasm and we’re really trying to push the kids hard,” Green said. “We’re excited and we’re ready to roll. We’re ready to come out here and get some fans in the stands. These guys are tired of beating up on each other and we’re ready to play against some good competition and hopefully get some wins.”
One area of concern is free throw shooting.
“We’ve struggled some with that,” Green said. “Especially with the kinds of kids that we have that attack the basket a lot we’re going to be going to the line a lot. You look at a guy like Braxton Goff. He could go to the line 10 times a night. He really has to concentrate at practice and make his free throws. We didn’t shoot well from the foul line in our two scrimmage games.”
Green has set out a general goals for his team.
“I try to concentrate on three things to keep us in games,” Green said. “One, you have to be able to defend. If you can’t keep teams below 60 points we’re going to have a hard time beating teams. Two, you have to rebound and control the glass on both sides. Three, you have to take care of the basketball. You have to really value every possession that you have. When you get careless with the basketball one or two possessions can make or break youg in big games.”
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).