After spending time at the collegiate level, first-year coach Tracy Anderson is actually looking forward to getting back to teaching the game to Augusta's girls basketball team.
Senior Kalie Robinson said that Anderson has been breaking down and rebuilding just about every aspect of the Orioles' game, right down to correcting footwork with and without the ball.
“It's better if the coach points you out on [mistakes] so you know to change it next time,” Robinson said. “It's been a big help for me.”
With that much change, there will come growing pains, but Anderson is okay with that. What's been important is the Orioles, who know they'll need patience, have been receptive to her coaching methods. As the season gets underway Friday at Mulvane, Anderson is more concerned about the end product.
“I think she brings a different intensity to the court,” senior Madie Becker said. “One moment she can be yelling at you, but the next moment you'll be laughing with her on the sideline.”
“She's straight forward and blunt about everything,” junior Casady Marlnee said. “She corrects you, but in a nice, blunt manner.”
While the team adjusts to the new systems, Anderson knows what she wants the team identity to be: Defense.
“We didn't even put in an offense until a week into practice,” Anderson said. “I'm really trying to establish us as a man-to-man team defense. That's one thing I hope we can hang our hats on.”
Anderson said her defense has been completely different than what the players have been used to, so it has been a work in progress. But Anderson said the Orioles' effort is not in question.
“I will be surprised if there's a ball on the floor and we don't have five Orioles on the floor,” Anderson said.
The only thing that the team might struggle with in the early goings is getting to the right spots in the right situations. What Anderson does expect, though, is a scrappiness that frustrates opponents, forces turnovers and keeps every game close.
Anderson said senior Taylor Childers will be one of the Orioles leading that defensive charge.
“You're not going to outfight that kid for any loose ball or any rebound,” Anderson said. “She really provides a good defensive presence, and we're working on getting her more comfortable on the offensive side.”
Childers, who has earned All-League honors, knows the importance of her role and hustling after every loose ball.
“We're going to win off our rebounds, but we're not tall, so we have to get after it.” Childers said.
Marlnee, who figures to be a key on offense, said she hasn't had too tough a learning curve since transferring from Bluestem this school year. Though she's one of the tallest players on the team, Marlnee plays more like a guard.
Page 2 of 2 - “She'll defend in the post, but she's really more comfortable out on the perimeter,” Anderson said of Marlnee.
Robinson will be playing primarily at the point, but Anderson does have plans to get her shots off the ball, as well.
Bre Burkett, who Anderson said has been a pleasant surprise, will help Robinson with ball-handling and gives the Orioles another shooting option, as will sharpshooter Bailey Reichardt.
Becker, who is dealing with an injury on her right hand, will be a post presence.
“I've been working really hard with my left hand,” Becker said.
A trio of talented sophomores should be key role players. Morgan Kirk can run the point, Kylie Wesbrooks can make plays and score, and Brooke Eberhardt can rebound and play the post.