ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
Coach Daryl Enos still has two very capable seniors to pencil in at the top of his lineup this season: (from left) Morgan Cady (left) and Erin Carr. “We have some scoring vacancies that will have to be filled,” Enos said. “We have several great shooters on the team.”
In early practices following a graduating class that featured the likes of Allie Maddox, Toni Gordon and Megan Hudson, there are bound to be a few moments when one wonders how this season’s team will come together.
But then, molding a team out of an eclectic group of individuals is one of coach Daryl Enos’s specialties. Enos has 19 years of experience as a head coach and is in his fifth year for the Marion girls.
“Every position is up for grabs, so we’ll probably be doing some experimenting-and we lost three key players to graduation,” Enos said.
No spot on the team may be more in question than the point guard position formerly occupied by Hudson.
“Megan was our point guard last year, and when she got injured, Kari Tajchman took that spot over,” Enos said.
When Tajchman opted not to play, the Warriors were left without an obvious successor for Hudson’s starting job.
With only two seniors on the team, there are numerous ways to use their experience.
That experience gives the team all the certainty they need-having Morgan Cady providing a presence down low and Erin Carr going to work on the perimeter will help the Warriors establish a team identity.
“Erin started all year, and Morgan was a starter half the season, until Christmas, when an injury took her out for the rest of the year,” Enos said. “Morgan was big component of our success early in the season.”
With Carr and Cady holding down two of the five starting jobs, the team will look for big contributions from its juniors. Three stand out along the perimeter: Lauren Helmer, Kalaya Jackson and Austin Percell.
Kimber Hardey, also a junior, is the forerunner for a job next to Cady on the low block.
Lisa Waller, a transfer from Fort Scott, is less polished, but her 6-foot-1-inch frame makes a solid case for playing time at both the center and power forward positions.
“We’re going to look to move the ball quickly, and I think defense is going to be a big part of our scoring,” Enos said. “Our full-court defense will be improved.”
Offensively, this team will work to make it tough for opponents to key on one or two players.
“Scoring will be spread around a lot, and we should be quicker than last year,” Enos said. “(But) we have some scoring vacancies that will have to be filled. It’s hard to say who will step up at this point, even though we have several great shooters on the team.”
This is Marion’s third year in the MCAA, and the league has a number of schools with deeper roots. While Enos calls some teams “traditional powerhouses,” there is a reason the games are played.
“Any team in the league is beatable on any given night-I’ve felt that way as long as I’ve coached. But getting kids to believe that, to focus on their strengths and practice on their weaknesses…”
Getting a team past the mental stumbling blocks might be the hardest part of a coach’s job.
Coming off a 6-15 season, Enos insists the team has the skills required to be successful and wants his team to aim high:
“We need to set our sights pretty high and shoot for the moon,” he said.
Enos, seven career wins shy of 250, must know a thing or two about setting his sights high.
“I think I have probably a little higher expectation for these girls than what they think they can do, and I think that’s a struggle for them. We’ve got to work on not worrying about what the past has accomplished.”