First-year Marquette girls’ basketball head coach Lee Green talks to his players Tuesday during a 55-48 win over Metro East Lutheran. The Explorers were 10-10 following the win and continue to improve on the season.
The Marquette Catholic girls’ basketball team experienced more than one change in the last year.
This year Marquette is led by a new coach — Lee Green — and with it a change in philosophy.
“I’m having a lot of fun because these girls practice so hard,” Green said. “And to see them get better and have the results we have had is rewarding to me.”
The first-year coach brought a change in defense. Last year Marquette played a zone defense but switched to man-to-man this year.
“When I got the job, we started working on it in June,” Green said. “When we got to practices, I don’t know if we even brought a basketball out for the first hour and a half of every practice. We just worked on man-to-man principles. The help side, one pass away to nine and keeping the ball out of the middle. We have a long way to go, but that’s what we’re trying to become. We want people in the area to know Marquette is a stingy, man-to-man team.”
Green felt the athleticism of his team made man-to-man a good fit.
“We have a lot of good athletes, a lot of girls who played on the soccer team that went to state last year,” Green said. “And we have a lot of quick guards. It speeds the game up and I think it’s better for the fans, to see us going up and down like that.”
Grace Dennis, Taylor Aguirre, Lila Snider, Lauren Fischer and Kelsey Blasingim all play soccer. The emphasis on defense could be seen in Tuesday night’s 55-48 win over Metro East Lutheran at Thomas Hooks Gym in Edwardsville. MELHS committed 30 turnovers, but Green said his team could have guarded better.
“What we did in the first quarter is what we need to do,” he said. “What we didn’t do after the first quarter is keep them in front of us. We were on the side of them and they kept going. They got a lot of fouls tonight.”
The Explorers’ scoring is spread around, as they don’t have a dominant scorer. Fischer leads the team in scoring on the season. In Tuesday’s win, she finished the contest with 11 points. Peyton Kline led Marquette in scoring with 19 points. She hit five 3-pointers.
“We want to share the basketball, but we want to have four or five girls averaging close to 10 points per game,” Green said. “It’s what we’re trying to do.”
Although the new coach likes a strong defense, he doesn’t cut shooting short.
“Every day in practice for 20 minutes we break up guards,” Green said. “We do post drills and post moves and at the other end the guards are doing a bunch of shooting drills. We try to get a lot of shots up in practice.”
Marquette improved to 10-10 with the win over Metro. The new coach said he feels being a .500 team is an accomplishment considering all of the newness on the team.
“It’s great; they graduated 90 percent of their scoring and rebounding last year,” Green said. “I’m new and I got the job late. We didn’t get the chance to do a ton of stuff in the summer. It’s been a work in progress and we got a slow start. We’ve really played pretty good basketball in the last three or four weeks. So, it means a lot to be .500 right now.”
Marquette has won three of its last five games. Starting in the new year, it defeated Bunker Hill (54-32) on Jan. 2, Nokomis (55-43) on Jan. 5 and MELHS on Tuesday. The Explorers suffered losses to Mater Dei (41-30) on Jan. 9 and Mount Olive (54-34) on Jan. 12, both teams that have been ranked in the state this season.
Prior to stepping on board at Marquette, Green coached a boys’ Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team for eight years. Prior to coaching in AAU, he served as an assistant in the women’s program at SIUE for six years under then-head coach Wendy Hedberg. He also served as an assistant under Jonathan Denney at Civic Memorial with the girls’ basketball program from 2009-11.
“Here I have the girls every day in practice,” he said. “In AAU, you have one practice a week if you’re lucky. You don’t have the chance to teach defense and run a lot of plays. In high school, you have the chance to teach a lot of fundamentals and make the girls better every day.”
The Explorers have suffered just one defeat in the Prairie State Conference, as it has a 4-1 record in the league. Marquette’s only loss in conference came against Mount Olive. Green said the Wildcats should win the league this year, but coach Green expects a second-place finish in conference. Of course, winning a regional is a goal.
“We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” he said.
Green expects better things in the future. He has just three seniors on the roster this year — Kelsey Blasingim, Jordan Rook and Madi Connors.
“We’re a team on the rise and we’ll be someone to be reckoned with in the following years,” Green said.