By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The Whitley County Lady Colonels underwent a coaching change at the end of the 2012-13 season, but it wasn't a complete overhaul of the system which has been in place for years.
When long-time head coach Larry Anderson stepped aside, the powers-that-be decided to go with a familiar face to the program when they tabbed one of Anderson's assistants, Donnie Jones, as the man who would take the reigns of one of the 13th Region's most successful programs.
Jones and his squad are in full summer-hoops mode as they try and get ready for the upcoming season with the amount of time allotted. Jones said so far he likes what he's seen from the team and expects them to continue their progress toward getting better one day at a time.
“To be honest, things are going better than I expected when we got started,” Jones said. “We're to the point where we're running the ball every time we get a hold of it, but doing that we can't play the kind of defense we will during the year, especially playing three or four games a day because the kids just aren't conditioned for it right now.
“I've been really pleased with our seniors and the work they're doing,” he added. “Our experienced kids are really working hard and showing a lot of leadership, while at the same time we're trying to get some younger kids ready for what we're going to need them to do this season.”
Despite a season full of injuries, the Lady Colonels finished the season with 20 wins, but still didn't live up to the preseason expectations most had for the squad. Key players such as Bethany Powers, Brandi Smith and Kandice Craig all lost considerable amounts of time due to various injuries.
Smith and Mariah Johnson averaged 19.6 and 12.4 points per game, respectively, last year to pace the Lady Colonels offensively, while Craig added 7.2 ppg in 18 games played. Combined, the trio accounted for 71 percent of the Lady Colonels' offense.
Knowing that losing any of the three this season would put a dent in any plans of a post-season run, Jones said he hopes that preparing some of the younger players to come off the bench will hopefully have his team ready should they suffer another injury-riddled season.
“We've got some young kids that will most likely see some playing time because we're going to need to have some depth on the bench,” he said. “I've coached a lot of these girls from grade school on up though, so we've got an idea of who can do what and so on.
“You really have to have some depth anyway in our district and region, so this is something we have to work on,” he added.
As the summer hoops season winds down, Jones said the number one thing he'll continue to look at is effort and improvement in his players. He said he doesn't put a lot of stock in wins and losses throughout the summer because he knows a lot of coaches are trying to accomplish the same thing as his staff.
“We really just want to see the kids come out and work hard and try to get better on the floor,” Jones said. “We know a lot of these coaches aren't throwing their best at us because they have kids they need to improve just like we do, so they want them to have more time on the floor.
“We won't put a lot of stock into records or wins and losses when this is all said and done,” he added. “I just want to see our kids go out and play hard and improve on a daily basis. As a coach that's really all you can ask for out of your kids.”