What’s a coach to do when one of the best teams of recent years graduates seven of its eight top players?
For Marion Lady Warriors coach Kelly Robson, the answer is obvious.
“The one person coming back, Kourtney Hansen, is a first-team all-league player; that’s something you don’t have every year,” Robson said. “She has really good basketball skills. Kourtney’s going to lead our team.”
But lest one think the rest of the cupboard is bare, Hansen will take the court with a group experienced in playing with each other, as well as a couple of players coming back to the team after layout out prior seasons.
Seniors Marissa Jacobsen and Molly Hess both took time away from basketball, and as strong performers in other sports, Robson expects them to get up to speed and contribute.
“Simply being athletic will get your foot in the door, so to speak,” Robson said.
As the pair work to brush off rusty basketball skills and get up to speed on Robson’s system, they, along with senior Taelyn Pagel, are becoming leaders by example.
“All three of them are quietly going about their business, trying to leaern the things they don’t know, trying to get cvaught up,” Robson said. “I think the younger kids are seeing they need to just get out there and work at it.”
There’s not really an outspoken vocal leader on the team, Robson said. Instead, being a close-knit group allows for give-and-take between players when one needs encouragement or the team needs a boost.
Those bonds may be strongest among Hansen’s classmates, a group of juniors that are expected to fill spots in Robson’s rotation.
Allie Mollker and Jessi Lewman are likely to bolster Jacobsen on the front line, and Courtney Herzet, Sam Richmond, and Corin Parmley are pushing for playing time at guard, Robson said.
“Courtney worked really hard in the summer to get better,” he said. “I knew she was a hard worker, but she really wants to step in there and go.”
Robson would like to employ the same pressure defense and fast-paced offense that he used last season, but said that this year’s squad may have to grow into doing so.
“We’re going to try to pick our spots a little bit,” he said. “If we have eight, nine, 10 girls who can really play the game and other teams don’t, we can run more and make conditioning an issue. We may not have as many quality ball handlers, but we have enough. If we get the ball to the right people we can run.”
While the tallest players on the roster are just 5 feet, 9 inches, Robson said his offense depends more on cuts down the middle of the lane and dribble-drive plays to the basket than dropping the ball down to the post.
“I don’t think our size is going to hold us back any,” he said.
The Lady Warriors will open the season on the road against Southeast of Saline on Friday.