TELLURIDE – After a disappointing 2009/2010 season that saw the Telluride High School Lady Miners varsity basketball team walk away with only a single win out of 20 games, head coach Michael McCloud sees the upcoming season brimming with possibility.
First off, the returning team of mostly sophomores and juniors is more mentally and physically mature than it was a year ago.
“We lost a lot of close games last year because we didn’t know what to do in those times,” McCloud said, alluding to inexperience as one reason the team succumbed so frequently to its competitors.
“There were maybe some wins we left on the table,” that a more experienced team might have been able to capture, said Telluride Athletics Director Mike Hughes, head coach of last year’s team.
But to be fair, Hughes continued, the competition against the young team was imposing – and continues to be – the best he has seen in his 15 years here, he said.
“We’re in a difficult league; it’s good from top to bottom,” he explained.
“They’re not going to get a free pass.”
Equally important to the increased experience this year’s basketball team brings to the court, if not more so, however, is the incalculable benefit coming to it in the wake of Telluride’s successful varsity volleyball season.
With the two teams stocked with a number of the same players, this year’s basketball team should benefit from the wave of confidence and mental edge generated during the volleyball team’s first trip to regional competitions in that sport in several years.
“There’s nothing like winning to get that confidence, swagger and momentum,” said McCloud.
“I’m hoping a little of that carries over,” he continued. “You can’t replace confidence.”
While not a newcomer to the team he has helped train as assistant coach for the past few years, this season marks McCloud’s first at its helm as head coach.
A former high school and college basketball player, McCloud, who moved here from Minneapolis three years ago, has also been head coach of the Middle School girl’s team for the past few years.
“A lot of the girls at least know where I’m coming from,” he said, predicting the transition to a new coach will be a smooth one.
Anticipating a team of as many as 16 to 17 players this season, McCloud called out juniors Sonja Erickson, Emily Langley and Emy Ludwig as its probable leaders, but noted that anywhere between 10 and 11 other sophomores and juniors could see significant playing time, as well as a couple of freshman.
“You never know, they could see some floor time, too.”
The upcoming season opens with games at Olathe High School on Tuesday, Dec. 7 and at Palisade on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
“We’re excited, there’s definitely potential there,” McCloud said
“I’m always a firm believer that best basketball player is a smart basketball player.”