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When you sit down and talk basketball with Linton-Stockton girls coach Brad McKinney one thing seems to find its way through -- guarded optimism.
"It's a new season," the fifth-year head coach said. "Obviously there are things we need to take from last year and move forward with and there are things from last year we need to try and forget a little bit."
While the forgetting might be a little more difficult with everyone back from last year's 1-21 team, taking from last year and building could be the easier of the two goals.
In fact, it might be the best goal McKinney has established when you consider things are a lot different than they were at this same time last year.
To open the 2011-12 season McKinney had just a handful players -- six to be exact -- so all were given an immediate push into the varsity.
This time around he returns that core group and then some.
To go along with last year's players headed by now a senior Joie Gadberry, McKinney has an influx of freshmen that help double his roster from a year ago.
"We have a nucleus that we can build around from last year," McKinney said. "Those girls that played a whole lot of minutes last year and took the brunt of everything last year, when you watch them handle the ball, drive to the basket and shoot the ball, there's so much difference from what we had last year."
McKinney is happy with the progress his team made last year and the advances they appear to be making as the current preseason practices unfolded.
"I don't know how well those improvements will translate when it comes to wins this year," he admitted. "But I can see these girls from where they were last year to where they are now and the improvement that has been made in them as players -- and that's always encouraging."
McKinney freely admits his team took their lumps last season and he also admits it was a learning process.
"We were young, inexperienced and people took advantage of that physically," he said. "I don't think we'll be able to be as manhandled as much this year.
"With the maturity level and experience we have, hopefully that will help us out in the long run."
When you ask him about a starting lineup, he tells you that will depend on who lines up on the other end of the court.
Instead of saying so and so will play, he refers back to the core of returning players as getting the majority of the time while the new faces will be worked into the mix as they progress, whether it be through JV or varsity action.
"I can tell you that the six girls that played last year are the six girls we're going to focus things around," McKinney said. "Those six are going to get a lot of playing time and the others we'll use to give them some rest.
"They worked hard last year and they earned what they've got at this point."
He also doesn't have an abundance of size, so the team will have to be more of guard-oriented team.
Senior Joie Gadberry will take the lead again this season.
"Joie is such a gifted athlete physically," McKinney said. "And I think because she is such a gifted athlete her basketball skills have gotten better because of that."
Brilee Parker will take the point guard role again.
"I watched her do things as a freshman guard that people did to her last year," He said of the junior. "Now maybe she pass along some of those things to the freshmen and not let that happen to them."
Other returners include Courtney Johnson and Carlie Booe who are still trying to get their basketball legs under them following volleyball season.
Savannah Neighbors, Selena Bowman and Mercedes Shafford are also returners who have taken a lot of the lumps McKinney referred to and have begun to show signs of getting on track early.
"I think they're all better," he said. "As far as one standing out over the others, I think they've all made fairly equal strides forward."
McKinney calls the freshman class athletic and hopes to use that his advantage.
"We just need to work on honing their fundamentals a little bit and their skill levels," he said. "I had a talk with them the other day and told them this isn't junior high anymore, it's a whole different ballgame. Even if you're playing JV ball you'll be playing against juniors and sophomores that are a whole lot bigger than us."
That doesn't deter what he hopes the will bring to the floor.
"Overall they're a very athletic group," he said. "But they've got a lot of things they still need to learn when it comes to high school ball -- but I think they'll learn as they go along.
"We're just trying to go in each day and get a little better," he said. "We'll see what we can get done."
2012-13 Linton-Stockton Lady Miners
No. Player Ht. Grade Pos.
00 Shelsie Meurer 5-6 Fr. F
10 Carlie Williams 5-2 Fr. G
12 Courtney Johnson 5-7 Jr. F
14 Brilee Parker 5-4 Jr. G
20 Carlie Booe 5-3 Jr. G
22 Avaree Dunn 5-3 Fr. G
24 Joie Gadberry 5-8 Sr. F
30 Jacklyn Nash 5-3 Fr. G
32 Hope Swiger 5-4 Fr. F
34 Maddie Robinson 5-5 Fr. F
40 Savannah Neighbors 5-6 Jr. F
42 Alexa Nelson 5-7 Jr. F
44 Mercedes Shafford 5-6 Jr. F
50 Keisha Boyd 5-9 Jr. F
52 Michaela Cole 5-5 Jr. F
54 Selena Bowman 5-8 Jr. F
Head coach: Brad McKinney (32-57, four seasons).
Assistant coach: Brian Oliver
LINTON-STOCKTON LADY MINERS
|Nov. 6||Monrovia||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 8||North Knox||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 15||at North Daviess||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 20||South Knox||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 27||at Owen Valley||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 29||Eastern Greene||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 6||Clay City||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 13||at Shakamak||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 15||Tecumseh Tournament|
|Dec. 20||Shoals||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 27||Vincennes Rivet Classic||TBA|
|Dec. 28||Vincennes Rivet Classic||TBA|
|Jan. 10||Union||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 12||at Washington Catholic||1 p.m.|
|Jan. 17||at Bloomfield||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 19||at Loogootee||1 p.m.|
|Jan. 24||White River Valley||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 28||North Central||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 31||Barr-Reeve||6 p.m.|