Usually coaches watch players come and go, but those roles are reversed this basketball season at McLouth High.
The Bulldogs return four starters from last year's 9-12 club, while welcoming a new coaching staff.
"With a new head coach and a new assistant coach, there's a whole new system," said first-year coach Tom Pierce. "I've been really pleased with their enthusiasm."
Pierce comes to McLouth after seven years at Class 1A Jewell High in the central part of the state to replace Larry Stice, who resigned his coaching duties. Bob Sailler, who stepped down as head coach at Eudora, will serve as Pierce's assistant.
Pierce's coaching experience is varied.
"I was head coach some for the boys, some for the girls," he said. "Sometimes I was assistant coach, and sometimes I was nothing at all. To me, the biggest change is the number of players out. There, 12, 13, 14 players would be all we'd have come out."
AROUND 30 players showed up at the Bulldogs' first practice, including a crew of veterans. Pierce said he expected to start five seniors in next Tuesday's opener against Troy in the first round of the Delaware Valley League tournament.
Leading the way will be Rick Haney, a 6-2 senior forward.
"Rick can jump," Pierce said. "He's able to take it in and dunk, and he's an excellent three-point shooter. He's very quick. He's just a real good athlete."
Other returning senior starters are 6-6 center Jason Carlson, 5-8 guard Perry Lockwood, 5-9 guard Jamie Miller and 6-3 forward Mark Mestagh.
"(Haney) and Carlson and Lockwood probably had the most playing time last year," the coach said, "but they all started at one time. I feel good because we'll have an outside game and an inside game both. Teams can't sag in on us, because we can hit the three-pointer, and if they come out on us we can work it in."
BLESSED WITH height, the Bulldogs should have nothing to fear in a halfcourt game. Still, Pierce said he might eventually let them step up the pace.
"I think the boys would like to run up and down the floor," he said, "but until I determine how much depth we have, we'll have to wait and see. We have one junior on the varsity, one freshman and two sophomores. It will depend on how quickly they can come along."
December: 4 at Troy (DVL tournament). 5-8 Delaware Valley tournament at Pleasant Ridge. 11 at Oskaloosa. 14 at Troy. 20 Midway-Denton.
January: 4 Oskaloosa. 8 Eudora. 11 Jefferson North. 14-19 McLouth tournament. 29 at Pleasant Ridge.
February: 1 at Eudora. 5 at Jefferson North. 8 at Valley Falls. 12 Pleasant Ridge. 15 at Horton. 19 at Jackson Heights. 22 Wathena.