A new era has begun in St. Philip girls’ basketball.
After 25 seasons, Frank Niemann stepped down as the coach of the Tigers and they will now be led by Dic Doumanian for the 2012-13 season.
Doumanian brings a lot of experience, having coached collegiately at Kellogg Community College and Defiance College, and will look to help the Tiger program continue its longtime level of excellence.
“Frank was here for a long time and did a really good job and hopefully we can continue that,” Doumanian said. “I have coached college, even coached eighth grade basketball over the years, so this is right in between and the opportunity arose so I thought it was a good fit. It’s a great position considering the strong tradition of athletics at St. Philip.”
Being a new coach with new players would make it a tough transition anyway, but add the fact that St. Philip once again won a state title in volleyball just a week before the start of the season and the Tigers have had little practice time with the entire team on the floor.
“Being new, and with the late start, still trying to learn what we have and what we can do,” Doumanian said. “Several of the things we want to do, they were already doing, but we are just changing the names of things. When you have a new coach, you are going to change some things and we will do that, so there will be some adjustments to be made.”
Doumanian sees the situation as a positive as the Tigers’ basketball program will get a fresh start after the team went 10-12 last year.
“We have a blank slate as I look at it and learn this team. And it’s the same way from their point of view, which can be a good thing. The good players won’t mind proving themselves a bit and other players, who didn’t play a lot for whatever reason, they will be judged starting now,” Doumanian said.
St. Philip does have a core group to work with as Doumanian starts to put together the roles for each of his players.
The Tigers return senior All-City performer Natalie Gallagher, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago with 8.4 points per game and 2.6 assists, while knocking down 27 3-pointers and earning all-league honors as well.
Emily Freybler, a junior guard, was brought up at the end of her freshman season and was an honorable mention selection on the All-City team last year.
Other key players to start the season will be junior Rachel Gallagher as well as senior center Scarlett Shirley, who was a presence in the paint a season ago. Doumanian says he also likes the look of Kelsey Vonk, a senior forward who hasn’t played in the program, but could contribute in her final year of eligibility.
Giving the team depth and some leadership will be senior Jaclyn Behnke.
“I think we can be pretty deep – I think everybody should be able to contribute,” Doumanian said. “We have decent size and our guards are really strong. I think we can be a good all-around team and have the kind of up-tempo style I like and get after people defensively.”