Basehor-Linwood boys team eager to get started with new coach, new lineup
Call it starting over again.
For the third straight season, the Basehor-Linwood High School basketball program will enter the year under the direction of a new head coach. But while that prognosis might lead you to believe this year's Bobcats are a team struggling for an identity, don't jump to conclusions so quickly.
First-year head man Bruce Courtney is taking over a team that lost all five starters from the 2000 squad and he is also running things at the varsity level for the first time. But Courtney doesn't fall too far from the tree. In fact, he's been at BLHS for seven years and as he gets set to begin his eighth, he said the path he's taken was one he envisioned years ago.
"I guess I always kind of thought this would be my path," Courtney said of being an assistant at BLHS and then eventually taking over. "I thought I'd kind of hang around until coach (Don) Hills (BLHS's coach of two seasons ago) was ready to move on and then I'd step in and take over the program. It came a little quicker than I expected, but I'm excited that it's here."
Between Hills and Courtney was last year's headman Dan Miller, but Miller left at the end of last season opening the door for Courtney to take over.
Unfortunately, Miller didn't leave much in the way of experience the talent part is still yet to be determined.
Only three players on this year's roster have any noteworthy varsity experience. And calling it noteworthy might be the overstatement of the year.
The Bobcats return three letter winners from last season's 16-5 team that finished tied for second in the Kaw Valley League, but only Brandon Dye, who was the sixth man in 2001, played any significant minutes and by significant we're only talking 10 to 12 a game.
Seniors Jake Hills and Eric Peeler are the other returning letter winners and they played about five or so minutes a game last year. Ron Gray is another senior who Courtney is hoping will provide some talent and leadership, but he's out until Christmas with a fracture in his foot.
While it might seem like Courtney has very little to work with, he doesn't see it that way at all. In fact, he's looking forward to the challenge and opportunity to build his own program right away.
"I'm really looking forward to starting from scratch," Courtney said. "I know most of these guys from coaching them at the junior varsity level, so familiarity won't be a problem and I think that can help us. We're just going to have to get it together and figure out early on what kind of team we have."
"Right now, I know we have a bunch of guys who are willing to work hard, who are willing to improve and who are dedicated to being as good as they can be. That can only make us better each time we play and this team has set their sights high."
The Bobcats will be one of the smaller teams in the KVL this season, but Courtney said if they play the right style that could work to their advantage. He envisions being a terrific defensive team one that pressures the ball everywhere on the court and he envisions being a disciplined, efficient offensive team.
Perhaps that's the way the game should be played for a first-year head coach. With the lack of experience on this year's BLHS team starting at the top they might be best served working together in all aspects of the game.
"We don't have a dominant big man or a dominant three-point shooter, so it's really going to have to be a group effort," Courtney said.
The Bobcats will open the season with a 7:30 p.m. game on Nov. 30 against nearby rival