Two Harbors girls' basketball team rolls out new program
Graduating five starters was a tough on the Lady Agates basketball team.
“It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us,” said head coach Chris Lemke.
Along with an entire new starting lineup, the coaching staff has seen quite a bit of change, too. Lemke was formerly the assistant coach for the boys’ team and this is his first year with the girls. Assistant coaches Mike McGrath and Dan Hebl also have basketball experience but are taking over new positions. Assistant Coach Rick Ray’s position is the only one that has remained unchanged.
Lemke decided to overhaul the entire program, implementing new offensive and defensive strategies at all levels.
“Everything is going to be standardized starting at seventh grade,” he said.
Lemke said in his previous years of coaching, he started to notice that the consistently good teams had a simple strategy: uniformity. He would see junior varsity teams running the same plays as the varsity squad.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Since Two Harbors has a small team, he said this will help younger girls be more prepared when they have to fill in on teams a level above them. When a new season starts, most of the girls will already know the overall strategies, so they can focus on conditioning and skills improvement instead of spending time learning new plays.
This year, however, the first weeks of practice were spent implementing the new system, so Lemke expects some growing pains. They didn’t get to spend as much time conditioning or ball-handling as he would’ve liked, he said.
He’s relying heavily on captains Holly Nowacki and Lane Schraufnagel for their experience and leadership, and so far they’ve delivered.
“They’re doing a really great job at holding everyone together and working hard,” he said.
The new structure will make things easier in the years to come, though, and he said once the girls get used to the plays and learn to play together, they should improve quickly. In fact, he’s banking on big improvements before the end of the season.
“I hope that when someone comes and watches us the first game and the last game, they aren’t going to recognize the team,” he said.