Girls hoops replaces three starters
After nine seasons with Wes Spence leading the Parkland girls team, the 2018-2019 season brings a change at the top.
When Spence stepped down last April after a 16-9 season and Ed Ohlson was hired to coach the team, bringing years of basketball coaching experience with him. That begs the question as to just how much the style of play will change and how will the players react to the changes?
Ohlson kept the assistant coaches in place, which he believes is going to take a lot of work off of his shoulders. It has also given the team some semblance of familiarity as they adapt to the changes.
“We’re changing things and we’re going to be more of a motion team,” said Ohlson. “The stuff that Wes was running was great, and I’ve run that before myself, but I’m evolving more into a motion kind of coach and we’ve really been working on that.
“We’re not that different defensively. I have a couple concepts that are a little bit different and the girls are working through those.”
The team lost two seniors starters to graduation in Julia Buchman and Keeley Coval. Another starter, Shelby Staib, committed to running track and field at James Madison University and won’t play basketball this year.
Under Spence, even younger players got a lot of playing time, so filling those holes won’t be easy, but at least there’s some experience to draw from. Lindsay Berger, a sophomore, has locked up one starting spot thanks in part to the minutes that she played as a freshman.
“We have a lot of underclassmen who have been stepping up and doing really great things,” said senior Kassidy Stout, a future Muhlenberg College player. “We shouldn’t have any problem reloading and it’s looking good so far. I’m excited to see where it goes come time for games.”
Ohlson figures to shuttle a number of players in and out of games when possible and will get playing time for most of his roster. He’s also going to be creative by double-rostering players on both the varsity and JV teams to ensure they get quality minutes on the court each night.
“We’re going to have some girls playing both JV and varsity,” said Ohlson. “There may be some games where I’ll only play seven players and I told them ‘I don’t want you sitting for two hours and just watching basketball. I want you to play’ and they can get that time with the JV team.
“We have three freshmen up on varsity right now and I wouldn’t call them starters, but they’re players. They’re going to play. There are a couple other sophomores who will help us and I know they can play. Then there’s a bunch of juniors who are nice players.”
One of the words used by players and coaches alike is intensity.
A new coach and changes to the system can bring about some renewed energy and for Parkland, that’s creating the intensity as the players work to learn the new system and make it their own.
“It’s been very different, but in a positive way,” said senior Claire Courter, who has committed to playing basketball at East Stroudsburg University. “I like the new style of play that he’s brought in and the intensity that we have. It’s helping us to have someone who has only coached guys, because that’s the type of pressure he puts on us and he doesn’t take it easy on us.”
“I think change can be good,” said Kaitlyn Rothwell, who will continue her playing days at Stevens Institute of Technology next season as an engineering major. “We’re definitely learning from him and he’s learning from us and I think that’s just going to help us keep improving and making us better.”
Perhaps the biggest problem that Ohlson will face is finding the right mix of playing time for his girls.
He recently did an exercise where he asked his players to write down how many minutes they expect to play per game. The result was pretty much what Ohlson expected.
“There’s only 160 minutes of playing time in a game and their total came to 229 minutes,” Ohlson said with a laugh. “So I said, ‘I just want you to understand my dilemma.’”
The regular season opens when Parkland plays Harrisburg High School at Moravian College on Dec. 8. The Trojans’ first home game is Dec. 11 when they host Emmaus.