Brian McGuire sees himself as an “old-school coach,” so switching to a full-court defense and spreading the floor offensively goes against everything he always knew about basketball.
But looking at his Madison High School girls basketball roster and what he says could be his most athletic group in 30 years of coaching, McGuire finds himself excited about the changes.
The Mohawks are looking to improve on a 14-10 finish last year after winning a share of the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title in 2015-16.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“We’re committed to playing more of a full-court game, making teams defend us the whole floor and using our athleticism,” said McGuire, who is in his fourth year of his second stint at Madison. “We have to use our defense to score because we’re not very big, so we have to take advantage of what we can and get lots of points in transition.
“I’m old school, so I like the tough half-court defense and offense, but I see the way basketball is heading and it’s moving more to transitional basketball.”
Madison has some experience with four returning players that saw extensive playing time last year, three that started, but the depth is still developing. Beyond senior returners Lillie Runnells (8.3 points per game), Lily Campbell (6.3 ppg) and Jackie Kovscek (4.9 ppg) and sophomore leading scorer Kenzi Saunders (13.6 ppg), the Mohawks aren’t sure what they have.
Junior Tara Price played as a freshman but took last year off, and Madison will be looking for sophomores Sydney Marsh (5-foot-11) and Ally King (5-foot-9) to step up. Valley View transfer Carly McMonigle is a 6-foot freshman who could also contribute.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“Our depth is young kids,” McGuire said. “We’re trying to get some experience and get them some playing time this fall in the preseason. Hopefully that works out.”
The Mohawks will begin the season Nov. 28 at Preble Shawnee.
McGuire said even with some good returning players, there is uncertainty after relying so much the past few years on all-league players Kelli Bush and Ally Hoskins, who graduated last year, and Katy Canter and Hunter Whiteman, who graduated in 2016. Bush averaged a double-double as a senior.
Saunders was a first-team all-league player last year as a freshman point guard and likely will be counted on for a good chunk of the scoring, but others will have to step up as well.
BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
“It’s different not depending on one of those players of the past,” McGuire said. “They were like a security blanket. All four were four-year all-league players and when you lose something like that, even though we’re not really rebuilding, we are a little bit. Obviously, Kenzi is an impact player but some other kids are going to get a chance too. We expect a lot out of all of them.”
Madison went inside to Bush a lot last year but with the shift in focus to using the whole floor, more players will be involved, McGuire said. They’ll also have more freedom to make decisions on their own as McGuire tries to put the game back in his players’ hands rather than always telling them what to do.
That can be challenging with so many young players, but strong senior leadership has helped Madison transition to this new way of playing and the Mohawks have embraced the slogan of “All In, All Together.”
“In practice, we just have to go over and over and over everything in our offense and defense,” McGuire said. “One of the things I heard in a coaching clinic from a really successful coach was that you have to embrace the monotony because it can be very monotonous to just keep working on your offense and defense in practice, but we have to do this to be successful.”
The Mohawks will open the season Nov. 28 at Preble Shawnee.
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