Canal Winchester girls basketball coach Mark Chapman did not get to watch the team live last year, given that he was an assistant on the boys team's staff and most of their games were played on the same nights.
All the Indians' first-year coach knows of last year's team comes from what he has seen on film, but Chapman -- who was hired in April -- did not take the job with any preconceived notions either about personnel or the style he continued to install before the season began Nov. 23 at home against Thomas Worthington.
"I used to have a very strong philosophy on a specific style of play and then the more I coached at the high school level, the more I realized that has to change because you can't recruit. Your offensive and defensive philosophies can change from year to year based on what personnel you have," said Chapman, who coached the boys team at Hamilton Township for six seasons before coming to Canal Winchester and continues to serve as a health and physical education teacher there.
"We have the personnel to run, but I like to do it in a controlled manner. I don't like massive amounts of turnovers just from trying to push the ball to a certain tempo. We try to do a transition and look for good, open looks, but if that doesn't happen, I want to make sure we are executing on the offensive side. I have always been a big proponent of motion offense, so I want to teach the girls how to read a defense, not necessarily to run 60 different set plays."
Canal Winchester returned its top three scorers from last season in senior forward Natalie Rarick (12.1 points, 5.4 rebounds), senior guard Amanda Rarick (10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds) and senior forward Shalea Byrd (8.6 points, 11.3 rebounds). The Indians went 13-10 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Capital Division.
Both Rarick sisters have committed to play volleyball at Rio Grande.
Chapman is the team's third coach in less than a year.
Former assistant Hillary Kessler led the team for its final 21 games last season after five-year coach Willie Jordan was placed on administrative leave in December because of allegations of inappropriate conduct. Kessler did not return to the program this year.
Despite returning three of its top players and having six seniors and a sophomore on varsity, the Indians consider themselves young. Byrd, senior guard Anaya Edwards and the Rarick sisters are the team's only returnees.
"The girls are skilled. We all just need to work. We're getting there," Byrd said. "We're running more transition instead of set plays. We have a set motion that we run, but we don't have a certain spot where we have to go. There is some more freedom."
Amanda Rarick, who usually will play point guard but could be a shooting guard, said that while much of what the team is doing is new, she feels like she is mastering what Chapman expects.
"We've had to learn completely new plays, new motions, new transitions. And it's getting used to the girls, too, because there are a lot of new faces. It's easy to bond with them," Rarick said.
"For the most part, it's easy. If I mess up, I can run off what we're doing and look later at what I did wrong."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Justice McIver (for-ward/center) and Josie Sanders (guard) and sophomore Madelyn Frank (guard/forward).
Sanders is an Eastern Kentucky women's soccer recruit.
The Indians begin OCC-Capital play Tuesday, Dec. 3, at three-time defending league champion Newark. Canal Winchester finished third in the league last season behind the Wildcats (10-0) and Big Walnut (8-2).
Boys, girls soccer coaches step down
Athletics director Pat Durbin admitted that looking for both boys and girls soccer coaches at the same time is "unusual," but that is the situation in which he finds himself after both boys coach Erik Feinstein and girls coach Alex Wentz recently resigned.
Wentz resigned Nov. 19 after going 45-18-10 overall and 14-2-4 in the OCC-Capital in four seasons with two league championships and a Division I district runner-up finish in 2017.
Feinstein stepped down last week after 22 seasons.
"They're both great coaches and quality guys. Erik decided to go in another direction, but he plans to stick around and help coach the track (and field) team. He feels this is a good time and I respect his decision," Durbin said. "Alex has some more demands with his full-time job and that will take a lot of his time. Both of them have done great jobs with their teams. We're going to miss them."
The girls team went 9-5-5 overall and 4-0-1 in the OCC-Capital this season, tying Big Walnut for the league title before losing to Gahanna 1-0 in a district semifinal.
"I am pursuing new opportunities both inside and outside of soccer and felt it was right to step down now to allow the school the maximum amount of time to select a new hire as they prepare for the 2020 season," Wentz said. "It has been a blast. We have accomplished a lot and I've been lucky to have the opportunity to work with so many awesome players."
The boys went 5-9-3 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Capital this season, finishing third behind champion Groveport (5-0) before losing to Dublin Scioto 3-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Feinstein's teams won league championships in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014 and captured district titles in 2013 and 2014.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:
Nov. 30 -- Cincinnati Turpin in Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Mason
Dec. 3 -- At Dublin Scioto
*Dec. 3 -- At Newark
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 3 -- Buckeye Valley, Grove City, Grove City Christian and Ready at Grove City YMCA