GREENVILLE – A pair of injuries to two of Greenville’s best players have the Lady Wave reevaluating their game plan with little time left before the start of the 2015-16 girls basketball season.
Coach Rachel Kerns was pleased with the progress her team made in the offseason, she said, but injuries to two of her returning starters – junior point guard Karsyn Shaffer and sophomore forward Cassie Cromwell – has the team’s outlook uncertain.
“We had a really good summer, and we got off to a really good start this fall,” Kerns said. “But we’ve had two key injuries that have really set us back. I know it’s all part of coaching sometimes, but it’s really frustrating.”
Kerns is hopeful that Cromwell and Shaffer both will be back on the court in three to four weeks. But the loss of the team’s top two scorers from last season has forced Greenville to change its plans in the immediate future.
“We’re starting over right now, kind of just reevaluating what we have,” Kerns said. “We’re really, really just trying to improve our half-court team defense. It’s come a long way from where we were a year ago, but we still have things we need to work on. And losing two starters who understood that concept, it’s hard, but we’ll be all right.”
When they return from their injuries, Cromwell and Shaffer should rejoin the Lady Wave’s starting lineup. Senior guard/forward Chloe McKinney and sophomore guard Kaylee Jackson also are projected starters for Greenville.
Sophomore guard/forward Payton Brandenburg, junior guard Lessie Cable and senior guard Sara Wenning all were battling for the final starting spot prior to Greenville’s injuries. Now they’ll be asked to take on larger roles.
“With these injuries, they’re all going to get to move up a little quicker,” Kerns said.
Also stepping up for Greenville is freshman Saki Nakamura, who will take on some point guard duties in Shaffer’s absence.
“It is what it is,” Kerns said. “We’ll get younger girls a chance to come in and get some varsity minutes, and we’ll just have to go with it.”
With so many new girls having to step into new roles, Greenville will focus on fundamentals such as taking care of the basketball and playing half-court defense.
“I’m not able to say we’re going to push the ball; we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that,” Kerns said. “I have so many new bodies with me right now that I wasn’t expecting.
“It’s one thing when you get injuries at the beginning of the season, but when you get it three days before your first game … it’s just the hand we’ve been dealt with, and we’re just going to have to do our best to go with it.”
Even when they’re healthy, the Lady Wave won’t have a lot of height to work with. Kerns said of her 11 varsity players she has one true post player, one true forward, a pair of girls who can play guard or forward and the rest are guards.
Even with its limitations, Kerns said Greenville has shown a lot of improvement.
“Last year we really struggled to score, and in this summer and this fall we were doing a really good job of being able to score, and we were also doing a much better job of holding teams on the defensive end,” she said.
Now in her second season back as Greenville’s head coach, Kerns expects her team to be more competitive this season.
“Our goal is to be a lot more competitive than we were last year,” Kerns said. “We came into the season thinking we would be able to get handfuls of wins. I’m not going to say we would be .500 right now, but we’re just going to have to go with it. I don’t know. These injuries really caught us off guard.”
And even without the injuries, Kerns said it probably would take another year of rebuilding before the Lady Wave would be really competitive.
“I say we still have one more year of rebuilding, and then next year our expectations are going to be much higher,” Kerns said. “We now have more girls who understand our system and you can tell they’re definitely a lot better at certain things within the system. But one more good year of rebuilding and we’ll be competitive next year.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.