After losing their top two scorers and head coach from last year, just about everyone on the girls’ varsity basketball team will play an unfamiliar role this year. However, the players and coaches alike are embracing this challenge, and plan on returning to the New England playoffs for the second year in a row.
With the departure of Head Coach Kimberly Libby, Darnell Barnes will be taking on the head coaching position, joined by Julianne Schloat as assistant coach.
Mr. Barnes has been coaching for seven years, many of which were spent in Atlanta, Georgia at Frederick Douglas High School. Mr. Barnes was also an all-conference and all-state selection in high school, where he scored over 1,000 points in his career.
Looking to this upcoming season, Coach Barnes has been stressing team defense, and a fast-paced style as the main coaching points early in the season.
“We are going to play up-tempo this year with an intense defense. There will be a lot of full-court pressure, which we hope will force the other team into mistakes,” said Mr. Barnes. “We will be very tough this year.”
Jacque Hulburd ’10 made it obvious that plans for a fast-paced style of play meant being well conditioned. “We have a lot of important tournaments coming up before winter break, so it is important for us to be in shape.”
The two captains, Luigia Goodman ’10 and Caroline Dickey ’10, bring much-needed experience to the team, as they are both three-year letter winners. “Luigia will be the biggest contributor this year, as she is our best player. She even committed to Williams College earlier this year to play basketball,” said Mr. Barnes
Mr. Barnes also has faith in his two young starting guards, Rosemary Straut ’11 and Ali Schulz ’12. Schulz is returning from an ACL tear suffered last year, while Straut was also sidelined for much of the season with lower back injuries. They are both excited to be healthy and to work together in the backcourt, hoping to drive the team into the playoffs.
“We are looking pretty good. We are going to play a more defensive game this year with many different lineups and strategies that we hope will confuse our opponents,” said Schulz.
Last year the team made it to the New England playoffs, but lost in the first round of the tournament. The team knows they will have to beat some of the tougher opponents who they have struggled against in the past, and they have already started circling their big games on the schedule which include NMH and Andover, and of course Choate, which will be the last home game for the girls.
Coach Barnes spoke for all the girls when he said, “I’m excited. This is a wonderful opportunity, and Coach Schloat has been great to work with. I am hoping that in a few years we will be able to talk about our girls’ basketball team in the same way as our lacrosse and water polo teams.”