Dave Wise loves to get his team fired up.
And it’s not just when he’s put into the game.
Wise is a sophomore swingman for the Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team, and when fans see him, he’s usually making all the hustle plays that have helped the Raiders succeed on the floor. But his best moves might be before anyone not dressed in red and black see him.
“I try and be the energy guy, I do anything to get us ready,” said Wise, the sixth man for Ryan who can play any guard position or the wing, depending on what’s needed. “I do anything. Before games, I’ll be dancing. I’m not the only one. Jalen (Snead) dances. They all do. Some have to be in the mood. But I’ll be dancing before every game.
“It gets us ready. But I think it also shows us how comfortable we are around each other. I’m a good dancer, but we all dance because we know we’re just having fun. And we love having fun.”
Winning is a lot of fun and that’s why the Raiders are all smiles these days. Well, at least they were before the coronavirus put the basketball tournament on ice.
The Raiders are 2-0 in the state tournament, including a 67-39 win over Elizabethtown in the second round of the tournament last Tuesday. Senior Gediminas Mokseckas led the Raiders with 20 and Dom Vazquez added 19. Wise scored two points, but he was a huge factor on the defensive end, forcing Elizabethtown into turnovers that led to easy Raider buckets.
Ryan was slated to take on Muhlenberg in a state 5A quarterfinal game on Friday, but the PIAA halted the tournament for at least two weeks as the world tries to recover from the coronavirus outbreak. For now, Wise and his teammates will try to stay focused and in shape.
That means playing ball wherever they can.
“I have been working out with my dad, he played basketball and he was pretty good,” said Wise, who lives near Cottman and the Boulevard. “We’re all trying to stay sharp. It’s hard because we aren’t practicing, but we’re still talking all the time. We just want to get back out there. We’re hoping for the best.”
When he does get back out there, Wise will be his usual self. And so far, that has meant great things for the Raiders.
Wise is always the first guy Ryan coach Joe Zeglinski turns to when a player needs a blow or gets in foul trouble. And because of his versatility, he can play pretty much anywhere on the floor. And when he does get the call, he gives the Raiders exactly what they need.
It really doesn’t matter what that is.
“I will really do whatever it takes, I don’t care, whatever the team needs, that’s what I’m gonna do,” Wise said. “I’m a defensive guy. When we need energy on defense, they usually put me in. But I can play offense, too. I’m more of a get other guys involved. I love playing point guard. But I’ll play anywhere. I just see what they need and do it. Whatever. I really don’t care as long as we’re winning and I’m helping us win.”
Come on, Dave, you have to have a preference, right? There has to be something he enjoys doing the most, right?
“Seriously, winning and helping, that’s all I care about,” he said. “We have guys who can do everything, but they’re not going to do it every night. I’ll help. Whenever they need me, I’m happy to go out. I love being the sixth man.”
This is a role he started to embrace over the summer when starters couldn’t make it to the summer league. Then, many times he’d be a starter, but other times he’d start on the bench.
When Ryan franchise guard Aaron Lemon-Warren went down with a broken foot in January, fellow sophomore Luke Boyd became a starter and that meant Wise would still be on the bench at the start of the game.
He couldn’t have been happier about it.
“I like starting, but I love coming off the bench, too,” Wise said. “It’s important that I go in and do what we need when they put me in. Everyone on this team is important. We all make each other better. We fit together really well, especially on defense. That’s a big reason why we’re in the state quarterfinals.”
Wise is just as strong in the classroom as he is on the court. In school, where his favorite subjects are math, science and social studies, he gets all A’s and B’s. That will help him in two years when he has to make a decision on where he’ll play college basketball.
But he’s also looking toward the future for other reasons.
Ryan is led by two great seniors in Mokseckas and big man Christian Isopi. But the rest of the roster is underclassmen. Those younger guys are getting the experience of a long state playoff run that hopefully will get longer in a little over a week. That could mean good things for next year.
“We’re learning a lot from the seniors,” Wise said. “I learned a lot from the seniors last year, too. Jaquill (Stone) and all the seniors helped me last year. I played in middle school, but I’ve learned so much coming here. It’s been great.
“We want to get back and win a state championship. That’s all we’re focused on right now. We want to go to Hershey. But we should be good for a while if we keep trying to get better.”