Senior hoopsters to rely on defence

The Muskie senior girls’ basketball team is searching for balance on the court.
Co-coaches Ian Simpson and Marla Knutson are faced with an interesting challenge this season, given that the team excels in one facet of the game but struggles mightily in another.
“I think we’ll have a very good defence,” Simpson said following last night’s practice at Fort High.
“We had a very good defence last year. Our defence kept us in all our games and we have some key players that are back,” he noted. “The backbone of the defence is back so I think we’ll be tough.”
But while defending their basket shouldn’t be a problem for the black-and-gold, scoring baskets at the other end might be.
“We have a lot of work to do on offence,” Simpson conceded. “We have a lot of work to do with timing, with fundamentals, setting screens, and just turning the offence over.”
Offence has been the early focus in practice as the Muskies prepare for their NorWOSSA season-opener this coming Monday (Sept. 25] in Dryden against the Eagles.
And so far, Simpson is happy with the progress he’s seen.
“The kids are coming along quite well,” he noted. “Their shooting is coming along quite well.”
Part of the reason for the early improvement has been the positive attitudes shown by the players and their willingness to work hard—attributes that have become synonymous with Muskie teams.
“They’ve got good attitudes and I think by the time the first game rolls around, we’ll have a few of the kinks out,” Simpson remarked.
The other major challenge for both Simpson and Knutson simply has been getting to know all the new faces on the team this season.
A large portion of last year’s team graduated—making for eight rookies on the 14-player roster.
“We’ve got a big turnover from last year so they’re very young, but I think we’re in a good spot,” Simpson enthused.
In fact, all the new faces have not discouraged the Muskie coaches from setting some lofty goals for the upcoming season.
“NorWOSSA gold is a goal,” Simpson said. “I think it’s a goal that’s within reach.
The black-and-gold came very close to capturing a title last year, finishing as runners-up to the Kenora Broncos in the league finale.
However, that having been said, Simpson knows a lot of things will have to come together between now and the NorWOSSA playoffs if the Muskies are to reach the gold-medal game.
“I don’t think it’s an easy goal to attain by any stretch of the imagination,” he admitted. “We’re going to have to work really, really hard.
“There are two other teams out there [Dryden and Kenora] that are just as good as us, so we’re just going to have to ensure that we get better and improve as the season goes on the same level.
“If we show steady improvement, we’ll be right there, but I don’t take anything for granted because I respect those two teams.
“Dryden and Beaver Brae [Kenora] will have good teams,” he stressed.