The Ottawa High School girls basketball program is in a growing stage.
Mat Schurman, a former Ottawa University basketball player, took over the program this summer.
His job is to turn players of all ages and abilities into a cohesive unit. There have been bumps in the road, but Ottawa entered Friday’s game against Tonganoxie on a two-game winning streak.
“I would like to have those games a little cleaner,” Schurman said following Wednesday’s 43-30 victory over Metro Academy. “We have to cut turnovers down. We had way too many unforced turnovers. We have to build higher expectations. We will always ask for. Unfortunately we did not see what we saw this week in practice.”
Schurman sees positives in where the program is headed.
“We are young,” he said. “These are amazing girls. They do the right things. Our ladies come into practice to learn. They are absorbing. We are continuing to take steps forward. We’ve got freshmen playing minutes. We have a group of sophomores that play a ton of minutes. Our seniors have given us some really good minutes, which has really helped out. Their leadership has been great all year. They continue to do and say the right things in support, even when it means giving up playing time. Our junior group is good. They have dealt really well with the transition.
"Any time you get a new coach, it is a new style. They have learned from every coach they have had. They are at a point now, we are getting my system in, which hopefully puts them in position to be successful. We will push them to be the best basketball players that they can.”
Schurman said the next step is having a winning mindset.
“Building that mindset of expecting to win and doing what is necessary to win,” he said. “We have to build higher expectations. We are closer.”
Schurman said building a bench gives the team depth and more confidence. He saw the bench grow in the win over Metro.
“Our bench players are having more confidence,” he said. “We have to get where we can run all our sets with everyone. I am happy we are getting more minutes out of our bench. Our starters typically play a lot of minutes. I don’t want to run all the tread off the tires. We have a long season to come.”