Having coached at the high school level for 20 years, Jason Crawford knows what it’s like to step in and start building a program.
This year, though, despite being his first as coach of the Big Walnut girls basketball team, he won’t have to do much building. The foundation is already in place.
The Golden Eagles finished 15-9 last season, that after winning just eight games during the 2015-2016 season.
In other words, they’re trending upward. To make matters even better, they have three starters back from last year’s squad — Erin Boehm, Paige Norman and Katie Cochran.
“We are expecting big things out of our returning starters,” Crawford said. “We want them to provide leadership and be role models for the younger kids in the program. We also expect them to set the tone with their intensity and enthusiasm.
“Erin has the ability to create shots for herself and others, and will be an extension of the coaches on the floor. Paige plays with tremendous energy and intensity and will make plays in the open court and Katie has put in a great deal of work during the offseason. She is an athletic wing player that has the ability to score from the inside and the outside.”
Crawford, who won a couple Coach of the Year awards while at the helm of the boys’ team at Danville, said Stacey Walters, Emily Neff and Abby Facemyer could also see plenty of time in the starting lineup over the course of the season.
“Stacey will provide consistency, senior leadership and the ability to shoot and handle the ball,” Crawford said. “Emily and Abby will provide us with a post presence and bring toughness to our team.”
Avery and Alexis Schone, along with Rylee Bussen, are also expected to see plenty of time on the floor.
The girls are familiar with each other, and have plenty of experience, but the success of the BW volleyball and soccer teams forced them into a bit of a late start. That said, Crawford knows it’ll take some time for them to adjust to his system.
“Our biggest key to success this season is just being able to come together as a team,” he said. “With our soccer and volleyball teams both advancing to the Final Four, we are getting a little bit of a late start.”
As for what Crawford wants them to do on both ends of the floor, well, he wants them to be able to do a little of everything … not as individuals, but as a team.
“Offensively, we want to be efficient at running a multitude of different sets and motion offenses so we are prepared for a variety of different defenses we might see throughout the season,” he said. “Defensively, we want to be an attacking-style defense that will disrupt the offense’s timing and take them out of their normal operating area.”
The Golden Eagles will open the season at home Tuesday against Marion Harding. League play starts Dec. 5 against visiting Groveport.
“I know this is a very tough and balanced league with teams that are going to bring their best effort every night,” Crawford said. “I’m viewing the league schedule with the mindset that anyone can beat you on any given night. Obviously, with Newark going to last year’s Final Four and returning some very good players, they are the team everyone else is trying to emulate.”