Eric Buhr knows the Fowler basketball program well.
Coming into this season, Buhr had 19 years of coaching experience at the freshman level at Fowler and had headed up the junior varsity team for the past two seasons before being elevated to the head coach of the varsity for the 2012-2013 season.
This year, Buhr will hope to lift the Eagles from a seventh place finish in CMAC play a year ago.
“It’s a different year. … The group of seniors that I’ve got in football and baseball and their basketball careers prior to the varsity level, they had a tremendous amount of success and they’re kids who want to win games and they’re going to work their tails off to do so,” Buhr said of his team.
The Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the CMAC at the start of the season by the league’s coaches. Usually one of the tougher small division conferences in the state, Buhr felt it was important to focus on improving from last year’s 8-13 overall record and 7-11 mark in the league rather than setting a target record.
Taking a one game at a time approach will trump the big picture for the Eagles.
“We didn’t want to set win-loss goals. I told the guys boy, it’d be great to have an undefeated season, but when you’ve got a P-W and you’ve got a Laingsburg and a Fulton in your league, you’re going to play each of those guys twice and that’s going to be a challenge. We’ll look forward to that,” said Buhr. “We want to see great improvement over where we were last year. We want to see improvement game by game. We want to see guys who are improving as athletes and a team that’s improving as a group of athletes together.”
Buhr has worked with the members of this team at the lower levels, giving him a sense of comfort as a first-year coach.
“I have built that rapport in the past. My son is in the senior class and I’ve taught all these guys in their science classes in the high school,” Buhr said. “We have a really good communication with each other and a really strong bond with each other.”
Buhr has inherited a team with experience and a Fowler team that has been younger the past few years will be dominated by seniors this season.
There are nine seniors on the varsity roster, led by 5-foot-10 guard Trent Goerge, a three-year varsity player who averaged just over 11 points per game last season and was a second team all-league player.
Kevin Koenigsknecht can play guard and forward and is also in his third year on the varsity. Goerge and Koenigsknecht are the team captains.
Senior forward Dan Buhr, Eric’s son, is also a reliable scorer for the Eagles and is used as the main post presence for an otherwise small Fowler team while senior Andy Birchmeier is an asset both offensively and defensively.
Coming into their Holiday Hoops Invitational game against Fulton at the Breslin Center on Thursday, the Eagles had gotten off to a 3-2 start with a 1-2 record in league play.