When Lou Tiberi and his Delaware Hayes girls basketball team take the floor for tonight’s season opener against host Patriot Prep, it’ll mark his first game as a head coach.
That hardly means he’s inexperienced, though.
Tiberi spent nearly three decades coaching boys basketball, primarily as an assistant at Upper Arlington and DeSales. The last seven seasons, meanwhile, he was the varsity assistant for the girls team at UA — a squad which won three OCC championships and two district titles during the span.
That said, Tiberi plans to bring some of what made the Golden Bears successful to this year’s edition of the Pacers.
“Our goal is to play an up-tempo game,” he said. “We would like to push the ball up the court and play more of a transition style of basketball … put pressure on the defense as opposed to going against a set defense.
“Defensively, we will mix things up between man and zone. We will be primarily a half-court defense as our low numbers will limit the amount of full-court defense was will be able to play.”
Hayes doesn’t return much experience, so the four players who are back from last year’s team — senior captains Rachael Bourget, Madison Eldridge and Jessica Walker and junior Piper Adkins — will be expected to shoulder quite a bit of the load.
“All three seniors provide valuable leadership and experience on a team that will be made up of mostly sophomores and freshmen,” Tiberi said.
“Eldridge will provide perimeter shooting while Bourget will be counted on as a steady offensive presence and top perimeter defender,” he added. “Walker is a face-the-basket inside player with the ability to make the mid-range jumper and Adkins will play point guard and should provide steady ball handling and athleticism.”
Tiberi said look for sophomore Katie Smith and freshman Alexis Amabile to make some noise as perimeter threats while freshman Jordan Lantz will play in the post. Alyssa Griner and Karli Theis, both freshmen, will also see varsity action this season.
“Our strength will be our four returning varsity players … but we have a number of underclassmen that are gym rats and have put in a lot of work on their individual skills,” the coach said. “Now, they need experience and physical growth to realize their potential.
“Inexperience and lack of size and depth are our biggest concerns this season. There will be times that we have three or four, maybe even five, freshmen on the floor at one time. It will be tough from a physical and experience standpoint, but the experience the underclassmen will gain will bode well for the future.”
The experience will come as the season progresses. As for the physical side of things, Tiberi said his team has been working on that for months.
“We’ve spent three days a week in the weight room during the summer and fall, and will continue to lift during the season in hopes to be a physically stronger team than we have been in the past,” he said.