Coach: Kyle Taylor, second season
Last season: 2-19
Coach: Dan Buchanan, first season
Last season: 5-16
The crosstown rival, Goddard Eisenhower, had the success. It had the star player, Zach Bush.
Goddard had a new coach and a thin roster.
It was difficult to tell which Goddard school was the first-year program and which was the original, as the Lions finished 2-19 under Kyle Taylor. Goddard might not immediately be able to pull itself back up, but the shock of a difficult season caused mostly by the split is over. Now Goddard can concentrate on the rebuilding effort.
The effort will be led by Taylor and a group of holdovers from last season. Only one of them, Collin Nevil, started every game, averaging 6.4 points. Improvement is necessary, but Taylor felt his players bonded over the experience that came with remaining at Goddard while some of the Lions’ best players left for Eisenhower.
"We have a great group of kids that will play hard and play together," Taylor wrote in an email.
The Lions must also solve a depth issue. After Nevil, the next highest returning scorer is Maxie Mikel, who averaged 3.7 points. He also averaged 3.6 rebounds, though, and if the rest of Goddard’s players can prove just as versatile, a climb out of last season’s doldrums could happen more quickly than expected.
Lee Keller, who led Goddard to a run of success, stepped down as the Lions coach this summer. To replace him, Goddard went with familiarity.
Dan Buchanan was most recently the Goddard boys coach, serving in that capacity from 1988-2002. But before that, he spent a season as the girls coach. His relative inexperience coaching girls, he feels, won’t overwhelm his knowledge of the school and the team, and it won’t change the way he approaches his job.
"Coaching basketball is still the same at all levels," Buchanan wrote in an email. "John Wooden said it best, with the emphais on fundamentals, teamwork and conditioning still the key."
Those sentimental philosophies may serve Buchanan well as he takes over a team that finished 5-16 last season and has no seniors. Emily Rausch and Jenna Clasen form a backcourt that gives the Lions their best on-court leadership and best hope for an improved season.
Rausch and Clasen each averaged about six points last season. Beyond them, the Lions have two players with significant experience, Megan Graf and Jordan Johnson. They’ll be learning along with Buchanan, who was named coach in August.
"That still doesn’t change our expectations," Buchanan wrote. "We are the same as all teams with the goal of improving each week."
— Jeffrey Lutz
November — 30, Dodge City
December — 4, Derby; 7, at Maize South; 11, Valley Center; 14, Andover
January — 4, vs. Carroll at Hartman Arena; 8, Arkansas City; 11, at Goddard Eisenhower; 15, at Hutchinson(G); 17-19, Chanute tournament (B); 22, at Hutchinson (B); 24-26, Newton tournament (G); 29, at Andover Central
February — 1, Maize South; 5, at Valley Center; 8, at Andover; 12, at Maize; 15, Andover Central; 19, at Arkansas City; 22, Goddard Eisenhower