Great mascot, by the way, and a perfect one for a team running The System. This is a high school girls' team from Galesburg, Ill., a city I happened to drive through on the way to the promised land for followers of this style of play: Grinnell, Iowa. The Streaks (man, I love that name!) are coached by Evan Massey, one of the most successful coaches in Illinois state history.
How successful? His 709 victories leave him third all-time amongst girls' coaches, behind only Dorothy Gaters of Chicago Marshall and Dave Powers of Oak Park Fenwick. This past season was his first with The System, and his team put up some impressive numbers. I'm sure he would be quick to point out the improvement in the ol' W-L column: a year after finishing 14-18, Galesburg finished 17-14 in 2009-10, a nice improvement but still not quite where Coach Massey is accustomed to finishing. The past two seasons are the first with less than 20 victories for him and the Streaks in 21 years.
The other increases came in the stat book, thanks to the great effort of Coach Massey and his players in switching from "traditional" basketball to The System. Here are just a few of the numbers put up by Galesburg:
- Galesburg set Illinois records for 3-pointers attempted in a game (71) and a season (1,382), along with the marks for made 3s in a game (20) and a season (365). According to Coach Massey, and I'm not going to doubt him, the attempts were a national record, for boys or girls.
- All Western Big 6 performer Jessica Howard made 118 of 364 from beyond the arc, and her attempts were another state record. She led the team with 14 points per game and her shot attempts improved by more than five per game. All this while her playing time actually decreased, down to an average of 20 minutes from more than 28 the season before.
- Speaking of playing time (and y'all know I love to call it "run"), last season Galesburg had 11 players get more than 10 minutes a game. Pretty neat.
- Four different players scored at least 20 points in one game, and 10 of them reached double figures at least once.
- Finally, and very importantly, if not most importantly, the Streaks increased their scoring average from 48 points to 72.4. In the upcoming season, Coach Massey hopes to reach 80 points per contest (more on this later).
So there's no doubting he and Galesburg were going to stick with The System, right? Thank goodness for me and you, that is correct. As he did last year, Coach Massey was kind enough to provide me a guide for the upcoming season, along with a brief Q-and-A session. Nice.
Here we go:
(Will you be continuing to run the Grinnell System?)
Coach Massey: "Yes, definitely. We hope we can run it more effectively than last year. We felt it was positive that we were able to get more girls involved in games last year, and the girls played with much greater enthusiasm and energy."
(Where do you look for improvement?)
Coach Massey: We really hope we can go from 72 ppg to 80 ppg. In order to accomplish this, we will have to be able to increase our tempo offensively and defensively. We think this subtle change in speed will have a huge difference on our opponents. We need to play the game faster than we did a year ago."
(How do you go from 72 to 80 ppg?)
Coach Massey: "I hope we can become a better pressing team. That will mean we develop the ability to change up our pressure better and that we are able to become more aggressive and get more steals. We gave up a lot of layups last year in our press as opponents broke our pressure and got 2 on 1 fastbreaks. The reaction is to think we need to become more passive defensively, the reality is that we must get up and become more aggressive to prevent the layups. If we press better, we hope to get more steals which will mean more quick shots."
(What improvements do you hope for on offense?)
Coach Massey: "We need to improve recognition of our situations. Often whether we are getting the ball after a made basket, a rebound, a steal, or a deadball will determine what the defense is like and thus what we need to do offensively. Last year we were indecisive too often. We would set up when we needed to just run, and we would try to just run when we needed to set up."
(How do you compare your depth this year to last year?)
Coach Massey: "We return 9 players who played 10 or more minutes. We think they will understand the System better and they will be able to be more comfortable as shooters playing the game at a high speed. In November one question for us will be the health of Baylie Boyer and Sadee Hamilton. Sadee was injured playing powder puff football and has struggled trying to get back. And Baylie is rehabbing an injury trying to get into playing condition. We will have to see how limited their roles will be because of their injuries."
For 2010-11, Coach Massey is sticking with the same goals he had in the first go-around with The System. Any avid follower of this blog (I know you're out there) knows these total five in number and while the actual figures in the goals can vary, the key statistics do not.
Here is what Galesburg hopes to accomplish in each game:
- Attempt 72 shots
- Attempt 36 3-pointers
- Rebound 40 percent of the misses on offense
- Force 26 turnovers
- Attempt at least 20 more shots than the opponent
Pretty eimple. And here's a look at how the Streaks fared last year in relation to the goals:
- Reached all five: 6-1
- Reached four: 3-1
- Reached three: 4-4
- Reached two: 2-3
- Reached one: 2-5
So good luck to the young ladies of the Galesburg Streaks, particularly captains Jessica Howard, Megan Young and Tai Peachey. They started practice Monday with a 6:30 walk-through of the offense, followed by another workout later in the day. According to the schedule Coach Massey included, Galesburg opens up Tuesday, Nov. 16, at home against Illini West. Go get 'em!