New coach, new system for Gillett girls basketball

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Daul brings experience in the M&O

Greg Bates Times Herald Correspondent

Times Herald Photo by Gerrard Diaz

Gillett girls basketball coach Justin Daul talks to his players during the first team practice Nov. 18 at Gillett Secondary School.

If early-season practices are any indication, things look promising for the Gillett Secondary School girls basketball team.

First-year head coach Justin Daul has been impressed with his players’ attitudes, willingness to accept and adapt to a new offense and defense, and their desire to be an extremely well-conditioned team.

“They’ve actually asked for the conditioning,” Daul said.

The Tigers players will need to be in great shape since it is Daul’s plan to run a seven-player rotation, despite having only 13 girls in the program.

“We’re low on numbers this year, so we’ll have a lot of kids vying for a lot of playing time who don’t have necessarily varsity experience,” Daul said. “There are going to be girls that play multiple positions, and, with our offense, that’s exactly what we need.”

Daul steps into the program after spending four years running the Lena girls junior varsity program and last season as the head varsity coach. He guided the Wildcats to a 16-8 record and third-place finish in the Marinette & Oconto Conference in 2012-2013.

“(The Gillett players) know me coming from Lena last year and what we did up in Lena and how successful we were,” Daul said.

Daul has implemented the same offense and defense he used in Lena. The players have really bought into their coach’s philosophy.

“We’ve got the base part of the offense in and the base part of defense in,” Daul said. “It’s a growing process and we’re going to have growing pains.”

Gillett, which finished last season 11-12 and 10-6 in the conference, was hit hard by graduation, losing seven seniors and four of its top five scorers. Gone are Kelsey Hischke (7.8 points per game), Kathryn DeJung (6.0), Rebecca Schroeder (5.6) and Melissa Meunier (4.9).

However, the Tigers return two starters: guard/forward Kara Brennan (4.9 points per game) and fellow senior forward Nicole Rotter (4.2).

“Experience and leadership are obviously the two greatest things they offer,” Daul said.

Taylor Kohls (4.8) and Marissa Sherman (2.6) both earned playing time last season and will be plugged into the starting lineup.

“Taylor’s got to take a big step this year and I think she knows that,” Daul said. “Taylor’s got to soak up a lot of the rebounds and a lot of the inside junk work, so to speak.”

Early in practice, Daul is still searching for someone to fill the point guard position in the starting lineup. Junior Maddie Wilbur is the frontrunner, and Rebecca Wolfe and Amber Francis are nipping at Wilbur’s heels, Daul added.

Daul is banking on Brennan to be the primary point producer, but she’ll need help.

“It’s definitely the big three, and that’s the way I like to talk about them,” Daul said. “The big three is Taylor, Nicole and Kara, and they’re going to play a lot of minutes.”

Conditioning will be huge because of Daul’s run-and-gun offense.

“Traditionally, people would think with only 13 kids in the program that you would be a half-court set, but that’s not how we’re going to play,” Daul said. “We’re going to be a transition, up-and-down (team), kind of create chaos and force teams to make their own mistakes and capitalize on those mistakes.”

Daul — who considers himself a defensive-minded coach — will run a base man-to-man defensive set, but will mix in a 2-1-2 trap in the half court.

Daul said he expects Coleman and Peshtigo to be the top two teams in the conference this season. The squads tied for the title last season with identical 14-2 records.

Daul believes his team, which advanced to the second round of playoffs last season, and Suring will vie for third place in the Marinette & Oconto.

“It’s top three in conference or bust,” Daul said. “If we get that far, our biggest roadblock to a regional championship will be Suring. I know talking with the girls from August on, that’s who they want. Suring beat them up in Suring last year and left a bad taste in their mouth, and they want to go at them pretty good.”

In order for the Tigers to be playing their best basketball by playoff time, they will need to continue to grow.

“We might start off slow as we get to know each other more and more, but I think by the end of the year we’re going to have it clicking, and it’s going to be a good show to watch,” Daul said.