CHICAGO HEIGHTS | There may be a new coach, but Marian Catholic's girls basketball team has the same high expectations that made it one of the elite programs in the state.
Monday marked the first official day of girls hoops practice and the Spartans are coming off a Class 4A state title and a 20-game winning streak. Dan Murray succeeds Annie Byrne, who resigned on July 20 to become director of operations at a sports complex in Bourbonnais. Murray was the coach at Lisle the past three seasons and also had success at Immaculate Conception.
Junior Kauai Bradley, who hit the game-winning, buzzer-beater put-back shot in the Spartans' 48-47 state championship win over Rolling Meadows, said her team is not complacent, but hungrier.
"I do want another state championship," Bradley said. "We're excited about (Monday) and the season."
Senior Ashton Millender, a DePaul recruit, said the whole team wants another title. Millender's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Marian a win over Marist in the Mother McAuley Sectional final.
"I want another one, too," Millender said. "We just have to work real hard at it."
Monday, Murray had the players start with a conditioning drill and he stressed "fourth quarter" to them as they went through the drill.
"We want to push conditioning and to be in good shape," Murray said. "We have a lot to work on. We have to be in good shape for those close games down the stretch and also we have to work on our technique."
Another new thing are binders sitting court side, as each player has a notebook.
"We want them to be able to go over situations, plays," Murray said. "Yes, you can say they will have some homework."
junior guard Teniya Page said progress is a matter of getting used to a new coach, though Murray kept assistant coach Tonishea Mack on his varsity staff.
"We know it is new, and we don't know a lot about our new coach, but we are going to work hard and we are going to have fun," Page said. "Our quote of the day today was about building from and having a good foundation."