Wheeling's Artz remains same despite all changes

January 06, 2001

Wheeling's Artz remains same despite all changes

By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

Andy Artz has traveled many miles to get back to where everything started.

The Wheeling (W.Va.) Jesuit University power forward left Williamsport High four years ago as a center. After dabbling at small forward for part of his freshman season, he's back on the blocks, where he remains today.

He was recruited by Wheeling coach Jay DeFruscio, who left the Cardinal bench after Artz's freshman year only to return this season.

And he has enjoyed one perk over the rest of his Cardinal teammates. That's one home game away from home - or at least within a half-hour of his hometown - each year. Artz comes "home" for one last time today when the Cardinals face Shepherd College in his last regular-season appearance at the Butcher Center.


"I'm looking foward to one last time of playing there," said the 6-foot-7 Artz. "It's nice to hear your name being called and have a lot of people cheering for you as you go on the floor. I have a lot of friends who are planning to come to the game because it's my last time playing there."

Same position, same coach, same hometown area and the same old Artz.

Artz may be two inches taller than he was when he graduated from Williamsport and has chiseled his frame with weights to put up the with the rigors of playing his game with his back to the basket on the college level.

The outer alterations are only skin deep, though.

Artz has carried over the hard-nosed play he used at Williamsport and sacrificed some of his statitistics and comfort for the good of the Cardinals, a young team carrying a 4-4 record when they play the surprising Rams (4-1) at 4 p.m. today. Shepherd's women face Wheeling Jesuit at 2.

"I'm so intense when it comes time to play," Artz said. "I'm trying to relax more and have more fun. There are some games out there that I only shoot the ball three times. Being inside isn't my favorite place, but it's for the good of the team."

The return of DeFruscio only adds to Artz's excitement.

"I loved it when they said he was coming back," Artz said. "His style is intensity similar to what (former Williamsport coach Kevin) Murphy's was. They both want you to go out and give 100 percent."

Wheeling features an inside-out offensive flow, where the Cardinals try to pound the ball inside to open up the outside for the guards. Artz is averaging just 10.8 points per game, but leads Wheeling and is among the West Virginia Conference leaders with seven rebounds per game. He is also one of the top foul shooters in the league (76.5 percent).

All goes with his work in the post.

"I knew I would be playing there since my sophomore year," Artz said. "One of our guys got hurt and they put me in there to fill in and I ended up leading the team in rebounds. That made them re-evaluate where I played ... and I had no complaints."

Artz's senior year and DeFruscio's return has been marked by a rebuilding process. That means a lot of young players, most of them hailing from the Wheeling area, to bring the Cardinals back into the old style of play.

"We're at .500 right now, but we are going out, playing hard and getting better every game," Artz said.

The improvement is what the Cardinals need the most, especially if they want to reach Artz's final goal as a college basketball player.

"Hopefully, we can make it to Charleston (for the WVIAC playoffs)," he said. "I have never been there for that and would like to get the chance."

Which could lead to one last trip to Shepherd College for a first-round playoff game.

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