HILLARY SMITH: Welsh eager to take new step with Red Devils

2012-10-21T18:45:00Z HILLARY SMITH: Welsh eager to take new step with Red DevilsHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 21, 2012 6:45 pm  • 

Matt Welsh has spent the last three years preparing to start the basketball season two weeks later.

After working on a rebuilding program with the South Newton boys basketball team, Welsh has returned to the region and returned to girls basketball. Formerly an assistant at Crown Point, today he opens his season with the rest of the state, his first official practice as the head girls hoops coach at Lowell.

"I'm so excited and I think the girls are excited, too," Welsh said. "We had 19 girls at our last two, three days of conditioning and they were running and working hard. They've done a lot of conditioning drills to make sure they're ready on Day 1. It's good to see them finishing up with soccer and volleyball and cross country, instead of taking a break out there after the summer."

Welsh takes over a Red Devils team that won its first Northwest Crossroads Conference title last season, went 18-4 and returns the bulk of its scoring from last year. After graduating a key scoring class in his first year at South Newton, Welsh was winless over his last two seasons of boys hoops. During that same span, the Lowell girls were notching back-to-back winning years.

"Especially coming off a 100 percent rebuilding project the last three years at South Newton, when they know the terminology and basketball and they've been coached well, there is a tremendous foundation here," Welsh said. "Obviously it's going to make it much easier for the staff and I to hit the ground running on the first day.

"That success breeds success, and getting started and continuing what's already there, at least we can start a little further down the road than we had the last few years."

He wasn't unfamiliar with team, having coached with Scott Reid at Crown Point in 2008-09, when this year's seniors were freshmen and taking their hits as young varsity players. Crown Point won that year, 45-19, but those freshmen have grown up.

Welsh is Lowell's third coach in four years. Patti McCormack, the school's athletic director, coached the team for 18 years before taking her administrative position. Katie Antcliff coached the team to 35-12 record over two seasons before her resignation in April. Welsh was hired in June.

"I think they know the game of basketball," Welsh said. "I don't want to try to overhaul and fix what isn't broken. Anytime there's a change in a coaching staff, a little flavor comes in. Some of our methods and schemes might be a little different.

"Katie and her staff did a great job over the last couple years. These girls play a lot of basketball year round. Some places I've been in the past, you have to teach everything from the ground up. These girls want to play."

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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