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High school boys basketball: New year, new coaching faces

Four schools have new leaders


12:00 AM, Nov. 27, 2012 EST

Galena's basketball coach Brian Voyles watches his varsity team during practice on Monday. / Andy Barron/RGJ

Reno High won two state titles in the last six years. Galena won one in the last five.

Bishop Manogue pulled one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history and played for the championship two years ago. Hug claimed two North titles since 2009, including last year when it was state runner-up.

What do the four programs have in common besides an impressive recent run of success? They all have new coaches this year.

Longtime assistants Matt Ochs at Reno and Keith Crawford at Hug now hold the reins. At Galena, Brian Voyles, a former Hug coach, replaces Tom Maurer. And Brent McConaghy now leads Bishop Manogue after the Miners lured him away from Colorado.

With four new coaches -- some familiar to their programs and the rest of the Division I North region, some not so much -- expect a different vibe to the region this season, starting with tonight's season openers.

Only Damonte and Spanish Springs have not undergone a coaching change -- or multiple changes in some cases -- since 2007.

Each of this year's new coaches inherited a good program. All four made the playoffs last season, and all four return enough pieces to do so again.

But, to a man, all four coaches say they do not feel the expectations of their predecessor.

"I don't think about it," Voyles said of the tradition Maurer built in 20 years and 325 victories. "I don't think in those terms. This year is this year. Very seldom do we talk about anything but this year."

It is no coincidence, though, that Voyles' expectations mirror those Maurer had. They're also virtually identical to those of Ochs, Crawford and McConaghy.

"Expectations are the same every year," Crawford said. "Fans expect you to win ballgames. The bar is set pretty high."

Crawford and Ochs have an advantage of continuity in reaching their goals. Neither must install a brand new system nor continue to develop a new relationship with their players.

"People will still recognize us, with a few minor tweaks," said Ochs, who was Kyle Schellin's right-hand man for seven seasons and two state championships. "Coach Schellin and I saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things.

"I'm really looking forward to getting going. I'm interested to see how I react in a game and how the kids react to me in a different role."

Reno hosts Carson tonight to begin the Ochs era. Huskies players say only the number of words Ochs speaks in practice is different -- so far.

"I feel like he was quiet and more passive as an assistant," said guard Garrett Hampson. "But now that he's the head coach he's not afraid to say what he thinks."

Voyles, meanwhile, began to install a faster-paced system almost as soon as he got the job in April.

"Different is different," said Voyles, who led Hug to the state tournament in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2009. "They had to adjust to a more up-tempo style. We use the word 'tougher' a lot. We have to get tougher."

The Grizzlies embrace Voyles' changes.

"I really like his up-tempo, fast-break offense," senior guard Caleb Wood said. "Everyone has reacted positively to having a new coach."

Things do not seem to be going quite as smoothly at Manogue, where McConaghy takes over for Bill Ballinger, who went 73-18 and won three straight Sierra league titles in his first three seasons with the Miners.

"The thing with transitions, and we're putting in a brand new system with entirely new terminology, it's not easy for kids to make that transition real quickly all the time," said McConaghy, who coached at Eagle Valley High in Colorado the past two years. "Every coach wishes they were further along. But we'll get there.

"You have to respect the tradition and respect the things that came before you. The past was good to Bishop Manogue but what happened in the past isn't going to win us games this year. The future will be written by these kids."

 

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