JANESVILLE — The difference is not night and day.
But, when the Janesville boys’ basketball team takes the court with senior guard Spencer Hoff, the Wildcats usually achieve better results.
The problem for Hoff and Janesville is the 6-foot-2 senior has had the worst luck with injuries.
In the past 2 1/2 seasons, Hoff, a three-year starter, has missed 18 games with a broken collarbone, torn labrum and broken ankle.
“I don’t know if there is another athlete in the area who has had to endure more adversity than Spencer,” Wildcats head coach Joe McKenna said.
When healthy, Hoff is not only an important piece of the puzzle for the 11-2 Wildcats’ basketball team, but he has been a key contributor on the football, track and baseball fields.
Just looking at the basketball team, Hoff has been a difference-maker when he’s on the court. As a sophomore, a broken collarbone suffered during football caused him to missed the first six games of the season and Janesville went 2-4. After his return, the Wildcats went 12-4.
Last year, Janesville was cruising along with big ambitions and goals of challenging for a state tournament berth. The team was 9-3 when Hoff went up to block a shot against Clarksville in January, came down on a teammate’s ankle and broke his left ankle. Over Janesville’s last 11 games without Hoff, the Wildcats went 6-5 and lost in the first round of districts.
“I’ve had to sit out a lot,” Hoff said. “It is pretty tough.”
Hoff is making the most of his senior year, fighting to get back to 100 percent health.
He missed the first four games of the football season after a second surgery on the ankle in late July and is gutting it out on that ankle, which he says may be 75 percent so far this basketball season.
The results have been solid.
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While he’s missed one game, Hoff is averaging 11.3 points, seven assists and 1.9 steals a game. His 92 assists rank fourth in Class 1A.
“We are a team that features the fourth leading scorer in 1A (Codey Hicks), but we wouldn’t be the same team without Spencer on the floor,” McKenna says.
Because of the late summer surgery, and his desire to help his teammates achieve success on the football field and basketball court, Hoff has learned when to push and when not to push his body. In a nutshell, that means there are days that he can’t practice.
“If we play on back-to-back nights or a couple of games in a row, it feels pretty sore,” Hoff said. “Usually, I try to do everything I can, icing it and resting it, to be able to practice, but there are some days I know I’m not going to be able to sprint, get up and down the court in practice like we do.
“It’s those days I have to say I can’t do this and hopefully it will be good tomorrow.”
McKenna adds it’s a delicate balance for Hoff, whose desire to help his community, his team and teammates and ultimately achieve his goal of playing college football are equal.
“It has been pretty admirable to watch,” McKenna said.
Hoff said as much as he wants to run track and play baseball this summer, he is going to have re-evaluate after the basketball season, noting that the ankle has healed completely from the surgery.
“It’s just getting to a point where strength-wise it is not where it used to be,” Hoff said. “Time will tell. I love track. I love playing baseball. But I’ve also got to listen to what my body is telling me.”
For now, Hoff is hoping to be a critical component to a long post-season run for the Wildcats.
“I feel pretty good about it,” added Hoff, who has received interest from several Division II colleges to play receiver or linebacker next fall. “We have a lot of guys who are on the same page.”