Thursday, October 27, 2011
There’s a lot of debate about energy nowadays, but while people everywhere debate the pluses and minuses of wind energy, solar energy, and the like, there is one place not debating energy changes: Central Maine Community College. They have a new women’s basketball coach, former Poland High School head coach Andrew Morong, and the players there have noticed a change in the energy.
“It’s a different energy,” said sophomore guard Jaime Swart, a 2010 graduate from Lewiston High School. “Coach Morong is joining us in drills, just getting out there. It’s just different this year.”
“We’re definitely more upbeat in practice,” said sophomore guard Karlee Biskup.
Morong, whose father Tom coached at Morse High School in Bath for 20 years, is making the jump from coaching high school girls in Western Class B, to young women in college.
“The biggest difference, coaching-wise, is recruiting. I’m spending more time in other people’s gyms than I am in my own,” said Morong, who was an assistant at Morse for 3 seasons before taking over in Poland. “The difference between coaching 14 to 17 year-old girls to 18 to 21 or 22 year old women is that most of the women played varsity basketball for two or three years. I don’t have to constantly teach the fundamentals, I can just see what they are capable of.”
One player to keep a close eye on will be former Greely star Biskup, who returns this year after sitting out most of her freshman season with an Achilles tendon tear she suffered in the Can-Am tournament last season. Morong has her penciled in as the starting point guard.
“I’m getting used to it,” said Biskup of returning after her injury.
“She went from about 90 percent to about 99 to 100 percent,” said Morong. “She’s doing things this week, speed-wise, that she wasn’t doing to start the year.”
The expectations are high, a year after losing in the Yankee Conference final to rival Southern Maine Community College.
“We’re shooting high. I know the girls are pretty motivated,” said Morong. “We know we have 28 games in the regular season before we can even think about playoffs, and we can compete with anyone that’s on our schedule. That’s our expectation, and we’re holding ourselves to that.”
Swart also talked about the jump she’s making from freshman to sophomore.
“The nerves definitely aren’t there as much,” said Swart. “There were a lot of questions going into last year, but this year I feel more established, and definitely more confident.”
There’s a definitely a sense of accountability around the team. Morong is taking over a team that has no problem communicating with him or each other.
“Chemistry-wise, it’s going to get there. There are going to be bumps in the road,” said Morong. “No one here is afraid to speak up. If Jaime has an issue with Karlee, she’ll let her know, and vice-versa. At the high school level, you have the captains, who feel like they’re speaking for everyone else. Everything is out in the open here. The Can-Am tournament is going to be eye-opening for them. Their experience is going to get them over a lot of hurdles this year.”
It helps that players like Biskup and Swart have adjusted to their new roles easily. As former high school stars, they had to learn new roles and play a different game.
“You get used to what your role is just by practicing with your teammates,” said Biskup. “You really get into your role that way.”
“It’s definitely an adjustment, but it’s almost a relief,” added Swart. “I went from playing with a bunch of girls who were still learning the game (in high school) to playing with girls who knew the game well, were experienced and were better than me. Karlee’s right, you do learn your role over time.”
Swart and Biskup are both going to start for CMCC.
“Karlee has ball-handling skills that are unmatched,” said Morong. “Her and Jaime can score multiple ways, so they’ll cause a lot of mis-matches, which is something I think we have in all of our starters.”
They’re also working on conditioning so they can play a more up-tempo style.
“Offensively, we’re going to score when we can on the break,” said Morong.
"Defensively, we’re going to press, not necessarily to cause turnovers, but to take time off the shot clock. We’ll trap in places we wouldn’t normally trap, and make teams adjust to us.”
The season kicks off with the Can-Am Tournament on Saturday.