New coach, new style of play for girls
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Girls Basketball team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Krista Paul, Krystin Gates, Haley Gower, Shannon Phillips and Georgianna Butler. Second row, Sam Zlock, Breanna Cullen, Olivia Markovich, Brittany Cunfer, Trayvonda Rice and Mary Jane Thomas. Third row, Assistant Coach Roman Baran, Head Coach Josh Wank, Demi Ogozalek, Dana McFadden, Abbey Markovich, and Assistant Coaches Adrienne Blasko and William Lynn.
Josh Wank may be a newcomer to the Panther Valley coaching ranks, but he's no stranger to his players.
The former Weatherly mentor not only coached against them last season but he's also taught them in the classroom.
Wank, who is a seventh grade history teacher in the district, takes over for Bernie Ogozalek and is anxious to get started.
"I'm excited about this year," said Wank. "PV's kind of home to me. I teach here and I live in the area. Now I'm coaching here and that's exciting. I get to coach some of the players I taught in class and it's a nice change of pace to see them on the court.
"I taught most of them, and if their work ethic is the same on the court as it was when I had them (in class), then we should be okay this year."
While many of the players know their new coach, what they aren't familiar with is the new style of play Wank will be implementing.
After years of playing a zone defense, the Panthers will change to mostly man. Wank also wants his team to push the ball more on offense.
"Right now, I'm pleased with where we're at," said Wank. "There's some work to be done, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
"We have three returning seniors who are very focused and I can't say enough about them. They bring their lunch box to practice every day and they work hard - especially with the new program. It's a changeover from the system that they're used to. We're doing a lot of different things and they've helped in the transition."
Those three seniors Dana McFadden, Abbey Markovich and Demi Ogozalek will be looked to for more than just production on the floor. With no juniors on the roster, they will also need to be leaders.
"Dana is our point guard and our floor general," said Wank. "She's definitely a leader on and off the court. Abbey is a returning stater and brings a lot of energy. She works hard on the boards and her work ethic is rubbing off on the younger girls. Demi is a very physical player. She plays a lot taller than she is (5-4)."
McFadden averaged 7.7 points per game a year ago while Markovich and Ogozalek both netted 2.6 ppg for a team that finished 10-12 and just missed the district playoffs.
While the three upperclassmen are nearly guaranteed starting spots, the rest of the lineup could be filled with any number of players.
Leading the way for those spots are sophomore guards Olivia Markovich and Breanna Cullen and sophomore forward Brittany Cunfer.
"Olivia sees the floor well and is an athletic player. She has a nice jump shot, and we look for her to give us some more points out of the backcourt. Breanna is a perimeter player and has a nice set shot. Her defense has really improved since the summer. Brittany has worked hard over the offseason and should give us quality minutes."
The rest of the squad consists of four sophomores (Mary Jane Thomas, Shannon Phillips, Krista Paul, Georgianna Butler) and four freshmen (Sam Zlock, Krystin Gates, Trayvonda Rice, Haley Gower).
"We want to make district playoffs," said Wank. "They were close last year and I think that hunger will drive them."