Hired in late May, Wheaton Academy boys basketball coach Pete Froedden spent a whirlwind nine-month period adjusting to a new state, team and climate.
Arriving from Nashville, Tenn., Froedden got a rude introduction into Chicago-area weather and basketball. The first-year coach managed to survive a tough schedule — and winter — by leading the Warriors to a 20-9 mark. Wheaton Academy won all 10 of its Suburban Christian Blue Conference games to capture the conference title. The Warriors' season ended with a 59-56 loss to Sycamore in the Class 3A Genoa-Kington Regional title game.
"The thing we really wanted to get done in year one was learning the system and put our footprint on moving forward," Froedden said. "The guys bought into learning the system from day one. You always wonder how guys will react to a new coach. Our seniors Gordon Behr and William Burdett were great leaders"
The Warriors lost to New Trier and Urban Prep/West, then defeated Gage Park in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. The Warriors then lost three straight games to open the MLK Tounrament atRockford Jefferson.
But a victory against Belvidere North launched a seven-game win streak, and Wheaton Academy went on to win 11 of its next 12 before losing to Sycamore.
Froedden expects his returning players to fill the gap left by Behr. The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the top remaining uncommitted players in the area.
"Gordon is such a difficult matchup for teams because he's a 6-8 guy who can stretch the floor with his shooting," he said. "We'll miss his versatility, and he'll go play college basketball. He just has to find the right fit."
Several players will take on expanded roles next season. Guard Josh Ruggles, who gained Internet fame with his 3-point shooting, will be a senior next season. Six-foot-10 Chandler Fuzak and his brother, 6-foot-7 Bennett Fuzak, developed into regular contributors.
"Our guard play is going to be one of our strengths," Froedden said. "We'll have Josh Ruggles, Christian Smith and Chris Johnson coming back. We'll be a good team. We're excited about next season and moving forward."