The girls basketball season started a week early in Indiana this year, with practices kicking off Oct. 19, and Jackson County’s coaches aren’t happy about it.
In 2014, the IHSAA passed a bylaw to eradicate conflicts between the 2015 girls basketball state finals and the boys sectional tournament — pushing the season back one week for the girls.
Essentially, the change only affects the final eight girls basketball teams in the state tournament while the boys begin their postseason play.
The schedule change, however, created a greater issue: The beginning of basketball season overlapping with girls volleyball sectionals and cross-country semistates.
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Some athletes are still participating in their fall sports as the second week of the girls basketball commences.
A handful of multi-sport athletes planning to play basketball have missed the first week of practices and will miss more time on the hardwood if their teams advance further into postseason volleyball.
Smaller schools taking hit
Trinity Lutheran’s volleyball team, which will play in the regional tonight, could potentially miss all of the second week of practices if they advance to semistate play slated for Saturday.Cougars girls coach Mike Lang is missing four girls to volleyball — with two or three potential starters still unable to practice basketball.
“Probably, like every other coach in the county and in the state of Indiana, we have our complaints,” Lang said. “We’re missing kids in our program. It’s nice being back in the gym; that’s the positive side. It’s difficult not having our kids here. We’re pulling for our (volleyball) girls to go as far as they can in the tournament. We’re looking at the possibility of not even having all our girls for our scrimmage on Friday (against Scottsburg).”
Lang said he is teaching schemes to the players who can attend practice and that creates conflict for teaching those players not practicing.
“We are implementing offenses, we still have maybe six or seven varsity girls in here,” Lang said. “It’s going to be a process where we re-teach. So, we will be doing things twice, and it will take two times as long to put it in. The good thing is, the kids (coming back) have experience and should pick up on it pretty quick.”
One of Lang’s biggest concerns is the little rest his girls will have switching sports.
“I think the kids hit fatigue,” Lang said. “The good things about our kids who’ve played soccer is that they’ve had two weeks off. The volleyball girls, it’s a whole different kind of conditioning. Even if they are able to be in here for two days of practice with us, is it worth risking injury to participate in a scrimmage?
“We are going to use our players right away (once season starts). It’s part of being a small school, and we have some good resiliency with our athletes.”
The Cougars begin their regular season Nov. 9, when Indianapolis Lutheran comes to town.
“Essentially, only eight teams will be affected out of nearly 400,” Lang said. “There have been some tries to put some resolution to this. The coaches’ association proposed moving volleyball up a week and that got shut down. It really depends what they want to do in Indianapolis.”
The Crothersville girls basketball team had seven girls, including three possible varsity starters, playing volleyball up until this past Saturday.
Tigers coach Kevin Hensley said his team still practiced last week despite volleyball season still in its swing.
“I still had to tell the girls, once the practice season started this week, they have to be there to get so many practices in,” Hensley said. “It’s kind of mandatory to be there to get practices in. The IHSAA has kind of put a hurt on the smaller schools. It’s really affected us, we need every girl for every sport.”
On Nov. 3, the Tigers will start their season in the Henryville tip-off tournament.
Hensley said he had the volleyball players do low-contact drills to avoid injury.
“We got five days practices in this week and I had all the girls for three days,” Hensley said. “We have five days next week and then a game the following Monday. There isn’t much time.
“I think it will be sloppier a start to the season for most teams, unless you’re a veteran squad.”
Medora will also begin play at the tip-off tournament, beginning Nov. 3.
The Hornets, who finished their volleyball season Saturday, will have nine girls this season on the roster.
Three girls missed basketball practice due to conflicts with volleyball.
Hornets athletics director and girls basketball coach Brad McCammon didn’t have the kids practice both sports.
“My biggest concern was that I didn’t want to have a kid turn an ankle,” McCammon said. “We had a point guard turn her ankle last year first day. If I’m coaching basketball before volleyball, and I had my players get hurt in a different practice I would be irate. That was my mindset. I felt like they should focus on the sport they’re in.
“I think it’s the biggest mistake by the IHSAA since I’ve been an athletics director. Orleans was in the same boat as us last week. It’s really hurting the small schools.”
With a young team, McCammon said it will be difficult to adjust to a quick start.
“I think a lot of (success) will depend on the experience coming back,” McCammon said. “We don’t have a lot of experience. That’s going to be a difficult thing.”
McCammon said he thinks moving from one sport to the next drains the kids.
“I think it takes a toll on the kids,” he said. “I think it’s hard to start a new sport on Monday after playing a different one on Saturday. It takes a toll on the girls mentally and physically. We dealt with a lot of injuries last year, and it concerns me. You go from a tough match on Saturday to practice for basketball and it’s a tough adjustment.”
Owls prepare for early start
At Seymour, two girls on the state-bound cross-country team will miss the entire second week of practice.In the first week, the Owls were without four members of the varsity team — two of whom will start the 2015-16 season.Including junior varsity, the Owls were missing eight girls, with six on the volleyball team that played Saturday in the Class 4A Jennings County Sectional.
Owls coach Jason Longmeier said he has focused on individual work with a handful of girls missing and isn’t implementing any new systems.
“We’ve been working on a lot of individual work,” Longmeier said last week. “We’re not installing any offense or defense. We’re taking our players we have now and making them better individual players.”
Longmeier said his girls, especially the runners, will have little time to prepare for their scrimmage against Brown County on Thursday and their season opener against Salem on Nov. 7.
The Owls will then have to host reigning sectional champions Bedford North Lawrence in a key Hoosier Hills Conference matchup Nov. 10.
“I think the problem is, which we’re not seeing now, is that for the two ladies going to state for cross-country is that they’re going to come in after the 31st and have exactly five practices before game one,” Longmeier said.
“I like to give kids a couple days off before they come to basketball. They will have to make the decision if they will take a couple days off and miss game one or are they going to get right after it. Five practices is the rule (for eligibility in a game), but it really doesn’t get them ready. The girls from volleyball are missing five or six opportunities as we’re speeding the process along. It’s going to be a tough thing to do.”
Despite the lack of preparation time, Longmeier still feels confident in his unit.
“Our girls that are coming from another sport, who haven’t touched a ball in a couple months, might have some rust,” Longmeier said. “Most of our kids that are coming also play AAU, so they know our system and have been playing.”
Braves chugging along
Brownstown Central is the anomaly this year, as they have a roster featuring few upperclassmen.Just two girls missed practices due to volleyball since no runners qualified for the Brown County cross-country semistate.“We’re really young this year,” Braves coach Karla Rieckers said. “If it were any other year I would have probably been missing half of my team. We have one senior and no juniors. It’s been a really good week for us because we’ve been doing two-a-days.”
On Nov. 3, the Braves will scrimmage Columbus North before playing Corydon Central on Nov. 7.
Pushing the week back, all schools had to adjust their normal regular-season schedules.
Now, key conference games at the end of the season will take place at the start.
“By taking our week away at the end of the season, we had to move three games from there to the beginning,” Rieckers said. “What would typically be our last game of the season, against Corydon, is now our first game.”
While the only slightly changes Rieckers’ practices, she sees the change as an issue in the foreseeable future.
“I don’t care for the overlap of volleyball and basketball,” Rieckers said. “I think volleyball should finish their sport first. I hope that changes in the future. When you ask athletes to double-up — that’s wrong. I didn’t have our athletes come on (Friday) because I wanted them to finish their season. I didn’t want to be responsible for an injury at my practice and then have them go to volleyball. I don’t like it.”
Taking health into consideration
With such a short turnaround, health will be at the forefront of concerns starting the season.Kyle Coates, a certified athletics trainer from Schneck Medical Center, said injuries from the fall can’t be ignored.“You think about these injuries girls sustain with volleyball, and they’re playing through the sectional hurt,” Coates said. “They can have nagging injuries they’re playing through. They have to carry those injuries to the next sport without time to do a lot of rehabbing. I think a lot of coaches are smart about that and try to let their girls healthy.”
Coates said muscle injures could plague some teams.
“We are definitely looking at muscles strains,” Coates said. “The risk of muscles injury goes up. As far as ligament sprains, you probably won’t see much of a difference since those typically come from contact.
“It’s a pretty short time going from volleyball to basketball. Basketball shape is different than volleyball shape. They won’t have the conditioning. Some of the patterns are similar, but they will have sore muscles. They will have to catch up.”