Coaching changes mean whole new ballgame for Indian Creek, Greenwood standouts

Reassuring glances or gestures from the sideline were valued components during the first half of Katie Burkman’s basketball career at Indian Creek.

The same is true today, even though they’re not always coming from the Braves’ bench.

Burkman, a 5-foot-11 junior guard/forward, is one of two Johnson County girls basketball players adjusting to a first-year head coach after playing the first two years for her father.

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Greenwood point guard Bailee Taft starts for Woodmen coach Bill Torgerson, who succeeded Taft’s father Lee.

Both Dan Burkman and Lee Taft resigned following the 2016-17 season.

“Obviously, when he first told me I was a bit sad,” said Katie Burkman, remembering her father’s decision to end his eight-year run as the Braves’ coach. “But I’ve played for other coaches before in AAU and when I was at Southport Middle School.

“I wouldn’t say it was easy at first. The type of practices are different from my dad’s.”

Dan Burkman compiled a record of 129-58 before relinquishing his duties in May. He presided over the Indian Creek program during an era in which it captured three of the six sectional championships in school history.

His practices were slightly more laid-back than those of current coach Brian Ferris, with players focused more on halfcourt setups offensively and defenses ranging from man-to-man to a 2-3 or 1-3-1 zone.

“We focus a lot more on getting the ball up and down the court quickly,” Katie Burkman said. “(But) my role hasn’t changed that much. Most of the time I’m out on the wing.”

Katie Burkman was coming off a sophomore campaign in which she led the Braves in rebounds, blocks and 3-point baskets. Burkman was also the team’s second-leading scorer with an 11.8 average.

She’s averaging nine points and 7.4 boards this season.

Bailee Taft mostly played junior varsity as a freshman, but averaged 4.9 points as a Woodmen starter last season. She’s producing 10.4 points for the current Greenwood squad.

“With my dad, if I didn’t understand something it was easier to talk to him because I could go home and we could work through things,” Taft said. “He relied on me to know all the plays and help teammates out because I’m with him all the time.

“But there wasn’t a lot of transition. The style is different, but basketball is basketball.”

Meanwhile, Dan Burkman and Lee Taft are adjusting to a post-coaching way of life. They pay admission to their daughter’s games and find a remote part of the gymnasium to sit in.

Coaching remains in their blood, but they mostly keep their opinions to themselves.

“Generally speaking, it’s tough going through a coaching change, especially for juniors and seniors,” Dan Burkman said. “As a dad, how happy Katie would be was one of my biggest concerns. How would she handle that transition? I think she’s adjusted well.”

The Tafts can say the same thing.

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.