Pair of new coaches bring different styles to Palisade hoops teams
Palisade’s new boys basketball coach Steve Phillips has brought a change of pace to the Bulldogs’ program.
Gone is the dribble-drive, attacking offense focused on layups and 3-pointers. In its place is a defensive mentality.
“We are going to try to play defense for 32 minutes,” Phillips said. “Offensively, it is a motion offense. I don’t know how fun it is for them because they are used to flying up and down the court, but we are going to use the clock to our advantage and try to do the things that will help us win.”
Phillips knows a thing or two about winning. He guided Central High School to a state championship in the 1990s and also coached at Western State College. He said the thing that has impressed him about his current team at Palisade is the team’s willingness to work.
“Their work ethic has been outstanding,” Phillips said. “It is going to be a tough learning curve to get everything jammed (into) a short amount of time to get ready for that first tournament, so I am very impressed with the work ethic they have.”
For a team that lost eight players from last year, it will take hard work to be successful on the court. Not only did the team lose its leading scorer, Hank Stewart, but also lost junior all-league post player Benedict Seebode.
Players like Jake Edmiston and Jeremy Hayden will lead a wave of players with varsity experience when the Bulldogs open up against at the Warrior Challenge.
“I think everyone is excited about it,” Phillips said. “We have a lot of young guys, so it is up to the guys who have been here before to provide the leadership so we can get better.”
Edmiston will take on a much larger role from last year. The 6-foot-2 senior started a few games as a junior, but mostly came off of the bench. Edmiston was a two-way starter for the football team and will provide a tenacious presence on the inside for the Bulldogs.
Edmiston fills in the blanks about himself and the rest of the Bulldogs.
Tough best describes me as a player.
“I may not be the most talented or most athletic kid, but I try to be the toughest and most physical out on the floor.”
Defense is my best asset on the court.
“It goes back to the toughness thing and I try to bring my best to the court every day.”
Football is how I trained in the offseason.
“Going into the weight room and trying to stay in peak physical condition.”
Team aspect is my favorite part of the game.
“I like being a part of a group of guys that all have a common goal of what they want to do.”
Buying in is the most important asset of this team.
“We have to play for each other. Football ended quick but we want to bring that same atmosphere of winning in here because we want to keep this program getting better.”
25 games I expect Palisade to win this season.
“Because that would be 25-0 and a state championship.”
The Palisade girls basketball team is also facing the task of adjusting to a new coach. Former Plateau Valley coach Toni Gunther is in her first year with the Bulldogs.
While Phillips has a whole new group of players, Gunther has the advantage of having a lot of the same personnel as last season.
Palisade did lose talent — all-conference players Bernadette Pitre and Megan Miller graduated — but Palisade returns seniors Sarah Hays and Holly Odneal, who both were all-league players. The Bulldogs look to have eight returners from last season, including Amber Henderson, Jenny Brown and Isabella Castleton.
“We have some good upperclassmen leaders,” Gunther said. “Everyone is buying in that it is not just about one person and the girls are working really hard, which is exciting.”
With the Bulldogs’ first game one week away against Fruita Monument, Gunther said she is still putting together her team.
“We are developing the team and finding out who works well with who,” Gunther said. “(We’re) trying to use our strengths but we still have a lot of skill work that we are trying to develop.”
Odneal filled in the blanks about herself and the rest of the Bulldogs.
Composed best describes me on the court.
“I keep a straight face no matter if I do good or bad. That is what I have been taught, so that’s I what I keep in mind.”
Speed is my best asset on the court.
“Quickness is my strength.”
With Coach (John) Arledge is how I trained in the offseason.
“It was tough. We would do weights, run stairs, run the track, so we were all over the place.”
High pace is my favorite part of the game.
“I like running and getting up and down the floor.”
Conditioning is the most important asset of this team.
“We have a goal this year to run and never lose our legs. We never want to lose a game because we are tired.”
Every home game is how many games I expect Palisade to win.
“That is a goal. This is our Dogpound and we are going to defend it.”