There is no expectation of winning for Maize South, a first-year program. But boys coach Kip Schultz is looking forward to when there is.
The Mavericks go into the season with one proven player — perhaps more than many inaugural programs have — and not much else, except for a coach eager to teach. Schultz was a longtime assistant at Maize High and hopes to build confidence in his young team (Maize South doesn't house seniors) by the time the postseason comes.
"I'm big on teaching fundamentals," Schultz said. "And I'm gearing everything toward Game 21, that first game of sub-state."
Maize South, a Class 4A school, will likely take its lumps with a schedule that scarcely includes a similarly-sized school. Some of the Mavericks' games appear winnable on paper, such as those against smaller schools Olpe and Otis-Bison.
But most are against 5A and 6A teams with name recognition, such as East, Hutchinson, Liberal and Shawnee Mission East.
One player who has been through such difficult tests before is junior swingman Evan Allen, a 6-foot-3 swingman who will give the Mavericks minutes at both forward positions and at center.
Schultz said he was surprised by Allen's decision to leave Maize. The Eagles finished 15-7 and return several players. One won't be Allen, who averaged more than seven points and would likely have been a starter this season. Schultz cited his close relationship with Allen as a reason why Allen chose to leave a more known situation for an unknown one.
"Evan knows Maize is going to be good this year, but maybe next year they won't be as good," Schultz said. "We aren't going to be as strong this year, but next year we have a chance to be better."
Being better in the future hinges on Schultz's ability to develop his young players. The first-time coach says he is ready for the challenge.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity," he said.