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HEBRON ESTATES - Lots of high school basketball coaches at one time or another have categorized their upcoming season as a ‘rebuilding’ campaign.
For North Bullitt head coach Bill Robinette, the term ‘rebuilding’ might not exactly fit this winter. The term ‘ultra-rebuilding’ might need to be coined for what the Lady Eagles are doing for the 2008-09 season.
Never have so many had so little varsity experience. The Eagles lost 13 of their top 16 players from a year ago. The roster has only seven players in the top three classes and only two of those were part of the varsity a year ago. In fact, two of the four seniors and juniors were not even playing basketball last winter.
North Bullitt graduated eight seniors who had been the backbone of the program for the previous five seasons. Another possible starter, Tay-Tay Hayes, transferred to Seneca.
So, Robinette and his staff have basically two players back with any varsity experience - seniors Ashley Goeing and Chelsea Hoke.
All coaches have optimism in November, but Robinette is also trying to be realistic.
“Our only expectation is to come out and play hard every night and we’ll see from there,” the coach said last week. “The only thing they will get in trouble for is not playing hard.
“I’ve been pleased with the fall practices,” Robinette added. “Some of the younger kids got better over the summer.”
Still, the summer was not particularly productive either. Hoke was not with the team because she was taking part in the Governor’s Scholar program. Two other upperclassmen, Breanne Kuffner and Mecenzie Ellis, had not made the decision at that point to join the team.
While all the players have been with the team since practice started on Oct. 15, Robinette has been splitting time between the team and his duties as an assistant coach with the football team.
“I’m there every day,” Robinette said of basketball. “I’m not always there for all the practices. (Assistant) Jeff (Richardson) and Amber (Courtney) have done a lot of it.”
North Bullitt did have senior Christian Dilley over the summer. She was in the program as a freshman and sophomore but then sat out last season. Junior Breanne Kuffner, the only junior on the roster, just decided to play a few days before practice started. Ellis just showed up on the first day of try-outs.
“Two of those were sort of a surprise,” Robinette said.
Because of the overall situation, North Bullitt will do a few things that might catch fans by surprise.
The team will dress just ten players for most games, but will try to press all over the floor. Robinette will be the first to admit that the better teams on the Lady Eagles’ schedule will run his team to death. The thought pattern is that the uptempo game will be the best for the green and gold against some of the teams on the schedule closer to their own talent level.
“We’re going to press more than in the past,” Robinette said. “We are running better. Good teams will run us to death. The teams we can beat, we’ll have to press. The good teams we can’t beat anyway.”
In addition, some of the younger players are just not ready for varsity competition.
“Ten will dress and that might not change,” Robinette said. “Until some kids step up and show what they can do, then there is no need to put them in a game.
“There is no sense dressing players who won’t play,” the coach added. “We’re not going to play a lot of kids a lot of minutes. We’ll have six play most of the time. The other four will just get spot duty.”
In the backcourt, the two guards will be Hoke and Kuffner and they will play most of every game. Kuffner, who is a standout softball player, has fit in well with the returning players.
“She has done a good job and works on both ends,” Robinette said. “Considering she sat out a year, she has gotten better.”
Hoke has the most varsity experience on the team.
“Chelsea has taken on the role of a leader,” her coach said. “She leads on the floor and energizes the other girls.”
The two other candidates at guard will be learning on the job. Sophomore Brittany Reno and freshmen Hunter Roeder have no varsity experience.
Up front, Goeing will be inside at the center spot. She did get some varsity playing time off the bench last season.
Flanking Goeing will be Dilley and Ellis. Another candidate for a starting spot at forward will 5-10 freshman Holly White.
Depth up front will come from sophomore Elizabeth Grant and freshman Taylor McCoy.
Robinette would have liked to soften up the schedule a little this winter, but that didn’t work out very well.
“We tried to get some teams more on our level,” the coach said. “People don’t believe you when you say you lost 13 of your top 16 players. Next year it will be easier to schedule.”
It won’t take much to make Robinette happy this winter. The expectations are just not very high.
“I think if the kids play hard every day and get better and do what we ask to the best of their ability, then I’ll be happy,” the coach said. “I won’t say anything about a won-loss record.”
North Bullitt opened the season on Monday with a victory over Shawnee. The team will be back in action in the first intra-district contest of the season when they travel to Fairdale on Friday.
The second week of the season will have games against Southern and a trip to Bullitt Central.