Leary Excited About Oak Glen’s Speed, Athleticism
By ANDREW GRIMM
NEW MANCHESTER — Oak Glen girls’ basketball coach John Leary knows he has a young group heading into the season, but he is excited about the speed and athleticism they bring to the table.
“We have a lot of team speed and kids that like to get up and down the floor,” he said. “I’ve got quite a few of the girls that played on the soccer team and they bring a lot of speed and athleticism. That’s definitely an asset.
“Size is definitely not an asset, I think the tallest girl in the program is 5-foot-8. We’re going to work with the strengths that we have and use it work to overcome not having much size.”
The Golden Bears return just two letterman from an 11-12 campaign a season ago, and will have four seniors.
“We are very inexperienced and very young,” Leary said. “The younger kids are picking things up and I have some young kids that are going to be in the mix for varsity playing time.”
While the athleticism and speed is what he feels are the strength of his team, one thing he wants to see improve from last season is the ability to rebound.
“That was a thorn in our side last year,” Leary said. “I think there were a few games that, if we would’ve rebounded the ball better both offensively and defensively, it certainly could have helped. The kids last year did a nice job of getting up and down the floor for us if we did a little bit better job rebounding defensively we could’ve scored some more points in transition. That is something we have been trying to emphasize in practice.”
Senior Emmy Severs who will start at forward and junior Maggie Kovalcik at guard are the only two in set positions headed into the season, with Leary planning to rotate the rest of his girls and keep things mixed up.
The rest of his four seniors are Kinsey Beaver, Lizzie Orenzuk and Kaylee Moore. Underclassmen in the mix will be sophomore Kaylee Travis, sophomore Alexa Andrews, sophomore Brittany Giorgini, freshman Reece Enochs, freshman Brooklyn Loveland, freshman Alayna Kranis, freshman Izzy Barganski and freshman Taylor Jackson.
Another thing that encourages Leary is an increase in numbers throughout the program.
“I like our numbers,” he said. “We have 10 freshman and I am very pleased by that. Last year we completed our entire varsity and jayvee schedules with 16 players in the program and were able to play all of our games. Having 20 right now seems like a luxury and the kids are competing very well. We want to play up-tempo and that is going to require us to have a little bit of depth.”