Changes to girls basketball seasons effective July 1, 2015, are for the most part being embraced by Johnson County coaches.
The IHSAA Board of Directors on Monday approved moving up the start date by one week to ensure the state finals being played in Indianapolis. In March, the IHSAA announced the finals would be returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse beginning next season.
Scheduling conflicts regarding use of the building steered the annual four-game showcase to other venues — Lucas Oil Stadium (2009), Fort Wayne’s Allen Coliseum (2010 and 2011) and Hulman Center in Terre Haute (2012, 2013, 2014).
“I was in favor of it because I didn’t like the idea of the state championship being anywhere other than Indianapolis. I want the girls to have their moment,” Center Grove coach Shawn Sanders said. “As far as the championship games go, you want them to be in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“That’s where the Pacers play. That’s where the Fever play.”
Franklin coach Walt Raines echoes the sentiment.
“Getting the state finals back to Indianapolis was a big key for girls basketball in general,” he said.
Moving the first practice date and first authorized contest date up a week have proven to be dicier subjects.
Center Grove conducted its fall break this school year from Oct. 14 to 25. The first day of girls basketball practice was Oct. 28.
The first day of preparations for the 2015-16 season, originally Oct. 26 on the IHSAA’s calendar, now will be Oct. 19.
“It will be a little bit of an adjustment for a number of families because of vacations, but we’ll make it work,” Sanders said.
The IHSAA also approved by a 15-4 vote permitting 22 regular-season games compared to the traditional 20.
“I’m a big proponent of giving kids time off. Between AAU basketball in the summer and the high school season, some of these kids already don’t get any time off at all,” Indian Creek coach Dan Burkman said. “And 22 games, I do feel like that’s an awful lot.”
Raines agrees, but he is not complaining.
“The 22 games kind of came out of the blue,” he said. “We’ll have to do some adjusting to our schedule, but I’m fine with it. You have to find the positives in it and take advantage.”
Raines said he’ll attempt to schedule the additional games prior to the annual Johnson County Tournament in November.
This past season Franklin, Center Grove, Greenwood and Edinburgh faced only two opponents prior to the event. Indian Creek’s tournament warm-up consisted of one game, as did Whiteland’s.