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Falcons setting sights on improvement

Falcons setting sights on improvement Falcons setting sights on improvement

The name of the game for the 2019-20 Abbotsford Falcons girls basketball team is rebuild after the Falcons come in with only a handful of players with varsity experience.

The Falcons come into the new season with question marks at multiple positions as four of the Falcons five starters have graduated. Abbotsford will be without the likes of Marawood - North All-Conference honorees Kallie Falteisek, Melanie Kunze, Marina Castillo and Samantha Maganda. However, they do return several players from last year’s squad that saw sizeable minutes, including juniors Catie Clement and Mya Ruesch, along with Maggie Seefluth.

A new line-up isn’t the only change that is being introduced to the Falcons. For the fourth time in four years, Abbotsford will have a new head coach prowling the sidelines, and this year’s coach will be Ally Meserole.

It’s Meserole’s first year as a varsity head coach, but she’s spent time as an assistant coach for previous Falcons’ head coaches Kelsey Anderson and Logan Rosemeyer.

Meserole admits there will be some issues when it comes to continuity, as she looks to put her own mark on the players and the program.

“We definitely have issues with continuity because every year we’ve had to teach a new offense,” Meserole said. “So even our senior girls don’t know the offense and don’t really know the defense. So, we’re trying to bring in different elements, new elements that work better or just differently.”

But with Meserole serving as an assistant coach for the past several years, she also hopes to incorporate elements from the past two coaches’ regimes and hopes this allows the Falcons to get up to speed with her coaching style.

“I’ve also taken a lot of stuff from the different coaches that I’ve worked with,” Meserole says. “So, this is my third year the girls program, and I had a year with the boys’ program. I’ve gotten stuff from previous coaches like coach Anderson and Coach Rosemeyer that are integrated into the program.

“There’s a few things that we are keeping. Coach Anderson wanted to have a fast paced game and we are really push- ing that. Coach Rosemeyer was a big proponent of working on fundamentals, which we need to work on. So, those are kind of the two big elements that we’ll be keeping. Both coaches had high expectations for the girls, and I am also looking to incorporate that as well and make sure that they are working hard every day and at every game.”

This year’s offense will be a mix of a five-out and four-out-one-in motion offense that Meserole hopes will allow the Falcons to take advantage of their speed as they do not have a lot of size on the team.

“We don’t have any super big post players. Mya Ruesch is going to be our post player right now, but she’s only 5’7”. But, she’s doing a really good job getting into the post and looking to shoot and try to make a move. Once she gets that coaching and training, she’ll be really good.”

The Falcons’ defense this season will be a mixture of zone and man to man that coach Anderson used two years ago.

Again, Meserole is hoping to use it since the players are comfortable with it and it should take advantage of the speed that Abbotsford brings to the court.

“I would say our biggest strength on the offensive side of the ball is driving. We have a lot of girls that like to drive like Alea Graff, Maggie Seefluth and Bridgett Pogodzinski, who is actually out with an injury. Those three girls love to drive and they will dribble between defenders to get to the hoop.”

Not everything is coming easy, as is expected, with Meserole explaining that defense is the harder of the two concepts to teach and she expects Abbotsford to have trouble at the start of the season stopping teams that run a fast-break offense, or teams that have a strong post player.

“We really struggle with post defense. Our girls like to stay behind and then end up picking up a foul by trying to reach in,” Meserole said. “We also get beat a lot and stuck in a flat footed position. Luckily we have decent help defense, but we have to work on post defense and on the ball defense for sure.”

This year’s returning starter, Maggie Seefluth, has already settled into a leadership role, says Meserole, and it’s one Maggie, along with junior Catie Clement, readily accept.

“I do see myself as a leader because the four seniors last year were on varsity for two or three years and it was mostly a senior led team and I learned a lot from them,” Clement says. “I’m one of the few coming back, so I feel like I need to set an example.”

Seefluth and Clement have already shown their offensive capabilities in the first game of the year in a loss to Athens. Seefluth had a career high of 20 points and Clement connected on multiple shots.

But Meserole is realistic about her team and their chances in the Marawood Conference, and while she does not like the use of the word ‘rebuild’ she knows that this season will feature plenty of bumps and periods of growth along the way before it is over.

“I would definitely say that we are a very young team, but I struggle with the idea of a rebuilding season also because that’s what every coach has said for the last three years,” Meserole said about how she defines this year.

“We’ve only got one returning starter, but that’s definitely an issue, but I think the girls and I want to see constant improvement. We’re building for next year and next year we’ll have four returning staters and a really strong eight grade program coming in.”

Fundamentals, new players and tough

ABBY PREVIEW opponents await throughout the 2019 se ason, but at the moment, Meserole hopes her players will look beyond the numbers and she will be stressing the joy of the game and the improvements made on and off the court.

If the Falcons can learn to enjoy and trust the process, then Meserole feels this season will be a successful one.

“I want our girls to enjoy it all season long,” Meserole said. “I don’t want them to get disheartened or frustrated and upset. I want them to know they are getting better at every practice and every game. But also, I want to feel at the end of the year, that we are playing our best basketball and ready for the next year.”