HOWARD LAKE – There will be a new face pacing the sidelines for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted girls basketball team this season. Eddie Kutz will be taking over the reins for the Lakers this season in his first year as head coach.
“We want to bring a new, nasty, feisty edge and be intense,” Kutz said about what he wants this program to become. “That’s something we want back in this program and I want to bring that, but at the same time we want to have a lot of fun.”
In his first year, Kutz will be looking to improve on the Lakers’ 9-17 record a season ago.
“I know my style is, we’re going to come in here and be pretty loose,” Kutz said. “We’re going to get to work and it’s going to be a lot of smiles, and we’re just going to be loose and have fun doing that.”
It’s a change of pace and coaching style for the Lakers from a season ago. but for the most part. it’s been a positive and smooth transition between coaches.
“I think this year things are a lot more laid back,” senior Ivy Fesenmaier said. “It’s just a much better atmosphere, and that we’re able to play as a team, have fun, but still get things done.”
“It’s not super intense,” freshman CJ Decker said. “But it’s the amount of intensity that we need to be able to be a good team this year.”
It’s only been a week of practices for the Lakers, but Kutz already likes what he’s seeing from his team in the early stages.
“Right now, what I’m seeing is the focus of these kids,” Kutz said. “I can demonstrate a drill, and roll out the ball and they’re getting it right away. I really appreciate that. As a coach, it makes your life so much easier. The energy we come with every day is pretty good. We have a little bit of speed that we will be able to use. I’m liking what I see these first four days.”
Several key players return for the Lakers from a season ago, including Fesenmaier and Janna Hatrick, who will be looked on for their shooting and senior leadership.
“We got some seniors who can shoot a little bit,” Kutz said. “Ivy Fesenmaier and Jenna Hatrick, who I think we will look to for leadership and scoring, as well.”
The Lakers will also have a nice group of core players returning, as well, this season.
“We have a freshman point guard in CJ Decker who’s going to do a lot of our ball handling,” Kutz said. “We’re going to need to rely on her to score a little bit, and hopefully, get to the free throw line. We have some pretty quick kids in Jenna Benson and Macee Streich that are going to help us on the defensive end of the ball.”
As far as the expectations for the Lakers this season, all they’re focusing on is playing well, and playing together.
“We just want to be open-minded,” Fesenmaier said. “We don’t really have, like, individual talent really, but if we’re going to win games, we’re going to have to play together as a team. Teamwork is our main focus this season.”
The Lakers open their season Thursday, Nov. 29 on the road as they take on Rockford.
“We want to be able to just take care of the basketball,” Kutz said about getting ready for the first game. “We want to limit mistakes that we do in practice, and hopefully that translates into the game. We want to play smart and do the little things well.”