PITTSBURG — With a new coach, a young roster and a fresh game plan, the Pittsburg High School girls’ basketball team is ready to make a run at the state title.
Although the Purple Dragons have gone through an overhaul during the offseason, they don’t plan on labeling the upcoming campaign as a rebuilding season.
“When you’re about 13 practices in, everyone is really excited to get started,” PHS head coach Kris Crotts said. “We’re ready to get on the court and see what we have. I’m really excited about the prospects we have this year and see the seniors show their leadership. I feel like we can compete with the best of them.”
Despite some growing pains early, the Purple Dragons believe they’re already in midseason form and look to hit the ground running.
“Luckily, I took over as coach over the summer, so we got to break the ice then,” Crotts said. “I’d say that transition truly starts when we begin playing games. With a new system, new drills and a new way of doing practice, it took about a week for us to really get into the swing of things. Now, our practices are really competitive, and as we begin playing games, now is really where we’ll start to turn the corner and get comfortable with each other.”
Making the adjustment quickly is necessary, as the SEK isn’t going to show mercy on a team which got off to a slow start.
“I think the SEK is going to be a dog fight every night,” Crotts said. “We’re going to have to come out and play hard. It’s a tough league, so when you lace them up, you better be ready to compete. There are no off nights in this league.”
Because of the level of competition and the current situation his team is in, Crotts established a game plan he says is simple, yet effective.
“We’re keeping it very simple this year,” Crotts said. “Our main goal this season is to compete everyday. I think if we come in with a workman attitude, ready to get better everyday, not taking any shortcuts and staying diligent, winning games and making the playoffs will come.”
Helping the team come along are Pittsburg’s two seniors, who are leading the way on and off the court.
“I expect the seniors to show intensity and leadership,” Crotts said. “We have to come in everyday with a mentality to work hard and compete. I think our seniors set the tone for that really well.”
While the seniors do their part, it will be up to the underclassmen to give the Purple Dragons depth, providing quality minutes off the bench down the stretch of a long season.
“The underclassmen are going to help a lot,” Crotts said. “We’re going to get a lot of help from our freshmen and sophomores. There’s probably going to be some growing pains in the early part of the season, but we hope to get better as the year goes along. By the end of the year, those freshmen and sophomores will be more like juniors and seniors.”
Plenty of changes have been made since the end of last season, but one thing Crotts said will never go away is the high standard.
“We need to completely buy in and just compete at a high level — especially at the defensive end,” Crotts said. “On defense, we’re just technically sound, we play as a team and we communicate. I think that it all starts on the defensive end, and if we can be nearly perfect on defense, the offense will take care of itself. That will allow us to compete against anyone, including in the state championship.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittbsurg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.