By Mac Moore
Rebuilding can be tough for any program. Women’s basketball coach Ben Conrad understands that rebuilding comes with the territory of coaching at a two-year college. He knows sometimes that means replacing multiple All-Americans.
Last year’s team went 32-3 and undefeated in the Jayhawk League. With All-Americans Briana Kulas and Mary Pat Specht moving on, the team will be led by youth and players who need to learn how to play together in this system.
“It’s always a challenge to a degree at this level but this year we are more inexperienced than normal,” Conrad said, “but with every game we play, we’ll improve and by Christmas it really won’t matter.”
Conrad is the coach to listen to when it comes to reloading a basketball squad at a two-year school. His team has spent 41 straight weeks in the top 10 of the NJCAA polls, dating back to before the start of the 2009 season. Conrad owns a .776 winning percentage at the NJCAA level with over 113 wins in four years at the college.
The loss of two All-Americans would normally create an early season rough patch for a basketball squad, but the Lady Cavaliers won their first two games of the season by an average of 61.5 points. Players credit Conrad for the team’s strong early season play despite only retaining two players that had significant minutes last season.
“It’s coaching and recruiting,” Kathleen Brisbane, returning sophomore, said. “The level of play is based a lot on the quality of players. Coach doesn’t look for girls that play basketball, you know, he gets basketball players.”
Great recruiting helps keep a team strong from season to season, but leadership and maturity are necessary as the team tries to develop. Brisbane and fellow returning sophomore Kelsey Knox said they feel it is their job to lead by example to show the younger players how to play at that level.
“I feel like I have to be the one that leads the team,” Knox said. “Not necessarily in terms of points or anything, but [Brisbane and I] are the ones that have been here. We understand how we must progress over the season.”
With the large roster revamping from a record-setting season, most programs would expect a drop off the following year. Conrad is not running a regular program.
“It’s possible to match last year,” Brisbane said. “We are going to work to the standard set last year, so yeah, it’s a possibility.”
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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