The 2012 season will be a homecoming for new Valders girls basketball coach Dan Wagner, a Valders native who was the junior varsity coach for Reedsville last season.
Wagner is hoping to bring in a calming influence to a team a year removed from a 6-16 season. It was the first sub .500 season for the Vikings in six years.
“I’m coming in completely fresh,” said Wagner. “I’m going to be bringing in a brand new set of drills which should hopefully bring a different perspective than the girls are used to.”
The backbone of Valders according to Wagner will be junior Danelle Buck, the Vikings leading scorer from last season averaging 12.4 points per game. Buck will be counted on to be the undisputed leader of a young team searching for its place in the long tradition of the Valders program.
“Having a player like Danelle is incredibly important,” Wagner added. “Every team needs a strong leader and I see one in her. She sets a great example for the rest of the team to follow.”
When the Vikings tip off their season on Tuesday against host New Holstein, Wagner is hoping his team will have taken his defense-first mantra to heart. Last season Valders allowed at least 60 points in seven games, a number Wagner is hoping to cut in at least half.
“The girls have to make defense a habit,” Wagner said. “I know coming in the number one task before me is to improve the defense. It takes takes a certain mindset that everyone on the court is involved whether the person they’re guarding has the ball or not. They have to keep their heads on a swivel and always be ready to throw a hand in a passing lane.”
To put this into place, Wagner will be installing a man-to-man defense which he feels is what the best defensive teams at any level employ. Another wrinkle Wagner is adding is a weightlifting regimen twice a week to improve his team’s overall strength when it comes to standing their ground.
“Weightlifting is an alien concept to almost all these girls,” Wagner stated. “By adding some muscle they’ll be able to fight for that loose ball a little easier. If each side has a 50-50 shot at the ball, I want my girls to have put in that extra effort to turn it into more of a 60-40 proposition in our favor.”
Offensively, Valders will be running a four-out motion offense which will rely on outside shooting from a variety of players. This is also where the weightlifting will come into play reaching for the rebounds and boxing out the opposition.
“At the end of the day,” Wagner said. “I want to know my players have put in the maximum effort both in practice and in the game to improve on both ends every time they step off the court.”
A coach can’t ask for anything more.