Head coach: Chuck Law, 5th season at FSHS
2009-10 finish: 10-12, lost in sub-state championship to Shawnee Mission South
Key returners: Eric Watson, sr., Evan Manning, sr., Alec Heline, sr., Brett Frantz, jr.
Impact newcomers: Austin Hoag, sr.
Reason to hope: Law trusts his core of Watson, Manning, Heline and Frantz — proven players who will carry much of the load for the Firebirds. Law also praised his upperclassmen for their leadership off the court.
Reason to fear: Very little proven depth. Behind his four experienced returners, Law is still uncertain who will step up and claim minutes. “A lot of the other guys are juniors coming off of playing JV. At this point, they’re still trying to sort each other out,” he said.
Coach speak: “I expect us to be a very competitive basketball team,” Law said. “What that means in terms of wins and losses, though, it’s very difficult for me to predict.”
Head coach: Bryan Duncan, 8th season at FSHS
2009-10 finish: 15-8, lost in first round of state tournament to Wichita Heights.
Key returners: Lynn Robinson, jr., Jackie Garcia, jr., Paige Rothwell, sr.
Impact newcomers: Kennedy Kirkpatrick, soph., Alexa Gaumer, soph., Chelsea Casady, soph., Abbey Casady, soph., A’liyah Rogers, soph.
Reason to hope: A few proven talents mixed with an influx of young, skilled players, all of whom have impressed Duncan so far.
Reason to fear: While Duncan is optimistic about his youngsters, the Firebirds still lost four seniors, two of whom went on to play at the D-1 level. Additionally, the Firebirds don’t have much size, making rebounding and defending the post two points of emphasis.
Coach speak: “The goal is definitely to compete for a league title and certainly get back to the state tournament,” Duncan said. “The expectations are definitely high this season.”
Head coach: Annette McDonald, 10th season at FSHS
2009-10 finish: 6th at Sunflower League meet and 12th at state.
Key returners: Nolan Frank, sr., Tony Libeer, sr., Will Libeer, sr., Ethan Fisher, sr., Logan Sloan, sr., Connor Munk, soph.
Impact newcomers: Ben Sloan, soph., Kyle Yoder, fr.
Reason to hope: The Firebirds feature a strong group of upperclassmen, all of whom were praised by McDonald for their improvements from last year. “I think their leadership sets the tone for the year to be a strong finish,” McDonald said.
Reason to fear: Despite their leadership, the Firebirds have a relatively inexperienced crop of divers, who McDonald said will need to improve over the course of the year.
Coach speak: “We’d like to move up from those positions last year,” McDonald said, saying the goals for this year are a top 5 finish in League and top 10 finish at state.
Head coach: Mike Gillman, 1st season at FSHS
2009-10 finish: One state qualifier on last year’s team that finished last in the Sunflower League.
Key returners: Spencer Wilson, soph., Jake Brown, sr., Drew Bottelo, soph.
Impact newcomers: Sterling Ozark, fr., Maurice Jacobs, fr., Marcus Jacobs, fr.
Reason to hope: In Ozark and the Jacobs brothers, the Firebirds have a good young foundation. Coupled with leadership from seniors like Brown, Gillman said he believes this will be the start of a turnaround for the program.
Reason to fear: There’s not much experience on the roster. Gillman said many of his freshmen will need to grow up quickly, as they’ll be thrust into starting roles right away.
Coach speak: “I think anything is better than being last,” Gillman said. “I believe we have the kids to do it this year.”