Varsity basketball is still months away, but there’s no rest for the weary. Summer might seem like downtime for high school coaches, but there’s always plenty to do and the city squads recently wrapped up team camps.
It was a good time, then, to catch up with new Roosevelt girls basketball coach David Maxwell, who takes over for Holly Borchers. Maxwell was a multi-sport standout at Parkston before joining USF, anchoring the Cougars as team captain for four seasons. Maxwell then joined Coach Chris Johnson’s staff as a grad assistant for two years before accepting the Rough Riders job.
Maxwell took a break Tuesday to catch up on his team’s summer progress and talk about the transition in taking the lead of the Roosevelt program.
Question: Last year’s team saw a ton of sophomores get quality starting time. How does that incoming group of juniors look, and what can young players like that gain from getting those minutes early on in their careers?
Answer: Any time you can get underclassmen playing time, it’s a good thing. We’ve got a pretty good group coming back, and we’ve also got some good players who are seniors. I’ve been extremely happy with that they’ve been able to show me from a skill perspective … But also just in being coachable and understanding how I’m going to do things a little bit differently.
It’s kind of a unique situation for all the girls at Roosevelt, just because it’s going to be the third new, entire staff in three years for them. [Holly Borchers resigned after one season in March, and former coach Chris Clark stepped down after one season in 2014.] It’s been a whirlwind, I’m sure, for them. It’s been a whirlwind for me.
Q: What has the experience been like taking over for Borchers – who was a standout for the Riders in her own high school career?
A: Coach Borchers has been awesome for me. I’ve leaned on her a ton, like with what Roosevelt means to her, because she has a legacy there as a former great player. And now she’s back and everybody knows who she is – she’s so well respected.
It’s been a completely positive thing for me — there’s been no tension, no pressure, anything like that. She’s said a million times, ‘I’m willing to do anything to help you out’ — to help this program be successful, because she cares about it so much.”
Q: The Riders also move on from one of the best players in program history – Tagyn Larson. Have you thought about how to replace her, or has it been kind of a clean slate taking over the program?
A: It’s one of those things where, I don’t know the team with Tagyn. This is who we have.
Obviously she was a really good player, especially from a couple of the films that I watched from last year – she can do some special things and I think she’ll have a great career. But I really like the group that we have and think we have a lot of potential.
Q: It’s still early, but how do you see the ‘AA’ field shaking out based on how last season ended? Washington should be pretty loaded, and Lincoln brings back some firepower. O’Gorman and Harrisburg, meanwhile, have some key departures. Where does that leave Roosevelt?
A: From an individual perspective on who might be the best team — or where we’re at — it’s honestly just too early to tell.
It’s going to be an extremely competitive conference, but I’m excited about that. I’d rather play in tight games against really good teams every night than feeling like you’re either way better or way worse than anybody.
Q: In putting together a story on the Dakota Schoolers, one thing I addressed is the general criticism levied against AAU programs focusing too much on competition. What was your experience like with respect that critique?
A: Don’t get me wrong, those can be long summers. You’re playing a lot of games, doing a lot of traveling. And if you’re not disciplined enough to get in the gym and work on the skill development stuff, that can be passed over a little. I was fortunate enough to have a dad and older brother who were willing to work with me on that stuff.
The first summer with the Schoolers was eye-opening. I thought I was a pretty good player, but we were going out and playing teams from the cities, Kansas City, Omaha — all over the place. You’re forced to raise your level play, because if you don’t you’re going to be embarrassed by teams.
I remember coming back from the first tournament, and I was doing workouts at home. I remember feeling like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get better.’ It really helped me push myself in the skill development area.