One year ago, the Whiteland girls’ basketball team featured a relatively experienced group, including five seniors, but brought a new coach, Kyle Shipp, into the 2012-13 season.
This season, Shipp and his system return, but very few players do.
Whiteland’s roster includes just two players, junior guard Monica Wagner and sophomore guard Kate White, who logged significant varsity minutes on last year’s squad, which finished 10-12.
“We lost almost 100 percent of everything (statistically),” Shipp said. “Everyone else is very, very new to varsity basketball, but we’re a no-excuses type of program.
“We have no seniors, we’re really young, but all those excuses are out the window.”
With that in mind, Shipp is focusing on day-to-day improvement. But the Warriors will face key games immediately.
Whiteland opens the season Friday at defending Class 4A sectional champion Franklin Central. The Johnson County Tournament begins Nov. 19, and Whiteland plays back-to-back Mid-State Conference games after — at Decatur Central on Nov. 27, and at home Nov. 30 against Martinsville.
Despite the grueling early schedule, Shipp is confident his team will respond in similar positive fashion to last year’s squad, which produced a pair of three-game win streaks under his new system.
“It feels like a new beginning, and last year did, too,” Shipp said. “We’re young, but we have some pretty good athletes. We have some people who can run and jump and love to play basketball.”
Shipp said he also has healthy competition at three starting spots.
Wagner and White have relatively firm grips on two of the three guard spots, while junior Savannah Craven and freshman Sidney Crowe figure to compete for the point guard spot. Junior Tori Ison and sophomore Sammi Fancher could split starting duties at forward, and sophomore Madison Csaszar (Wingert) and freshman Ashley West will both see playing time at center.
“We may not have the same starting lineup every single night, but Wagner and White are going to be a lot of what we do,” Shipp said. “Competition for spots has been really good. We have 20 people on our JV and varsity teams, and they’re all similar types of players.”
Shipp said he views his team’s overall athleticism and camaraderie as strengths, but worries about turnovers and rebounding.
“This group has done a really nice job coming together early in the season, and they care about each other as basketball players and as people,” Shipp said. “Valuing the basketball is going to be a key component, and since we don’t have a true center or big girl, rebounding is going to play a huge role as well.”