As Dana Leary heads into her second season as the head coach of the Stuart Country Day School basketball team, she feels that the program is headed in the right direction.
“We are still in a period of rebuilding; we are starting further ahead than we were last year,” said Leary, who guided the Tartans to a 2-13 record last winter in her debut campaign.
“I have six returners; they understand my system and they understand the expectations. I am expecting more progress this year from us.”
Leary is expecting big things from her frontcourt trio of senior Maggie Walsh, junior Nneka Onukwugha, and sophomore Kate Walsh, Maggie’s younger sister.
“Maggie Walsh is a senior, she is a great leader and role model,” said Leary. “She is very fundamentally sound offensively and defensively. We are working with her to be more aggressive offensively. Nneka and Kate give us an inside presence. They provide great height and strong post play, Kate has showed a lot of growth and improvement. She is more aggressive offensively, she is looking to attack the basket.”
In the backcourt, sophomore Harley Guzman has shown a lot of growth at point guard.
“In the middle of last season she took over the role of point guard and did a good job,” said Leary, whose team opens the 2013-14 season by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11.
“She embraced it last year and stepped up. She is familiar with the position now and has improved offensively and defensively. She has developed into a point guard. She can handle the ball well and we have talked to her about improving her decision-making. She is more confident this year.”
Leary has confidence in two other veterans at guard, junior Harlyn Bell and sophomore Rose Tetnowski. “Harlyn Bell has emerged as a leader this year,” said Leary, who will also be using a quartet of freshmen Milan Kainer, Julia Kahn, Ally McGowen, and Vanessa Williams in the backcourt.
“She plays mostly as guard but she has the ability to give us depth in the post. She is a player who I think is really going to step up for us this year. Rose Tetnowski is versatile, she can play both guard positions. I want to see her more in the ‘2’ role this year.”
Stuart will look to play sharper this winter. “We emphasize developing the fundamentals and understanding of the game on a daily basis,” said Leary.
“We need to take better care of the ball on offense and we need to be more aggressive defensively. We played mainly zone last year, this year we want to have more options and give our opponents different looks.”
In Leary’s view, her players possess the mentality to apply those lessons. “It is a very coachable team, they have a desire to learn,” said Leary. “They have great team spirit; they are good teammates to one another.”