Chris Morrow was officially brought aboard as the first new girls head basketball coach at Perry since 1978 on Aug. 14.
The late date of his hire has put the Jayettes weeks behind the competition, and having a new coach and new scheme to adjust to has made the transition feel, at time, hectic.
“It really is about how late in the summer it was when I first got here,” Morrow, 31, said. “Everyone else has had a few extra weeks, and, of course, most of them are with their same coaching, doing things they are used to doing. It has been different for our girls.”
A new coach often means a new chapter for a team. In this case, it is perhaps more apt to refer to the changes as an entire new book.
Morrow is involved with AAU program Lady Pure Prep and will bring a quick, more improvisational style to the offense.
“It might be best to call it more of a ‘freedom’ offense, because it will be focused more on a read-and-react response as opposed to making sure everyone is where everyone is supposed to be on the floor,” Morrow said. “We are never going to be the biggest team on the floor and won’t be able to just dribble up and dump it to the post. We will be looking for quick ball movement, smart decisions and taking the first good shot we find.”
Perry was 15-7 overall last year and 9-5 in Raccoon River Conference play. Lost to graduation were 44 percent of points scored and 37 percent of rebounds cleared.
The Jayettes scored 1,074 points (51.5 per game) last year while allowing 953, an average advantage of 5.8 ppg. If Morrow has his way, Perry will at least maintain their 25.9 rebound per game slate while scoring in the mid to upper-60’s.
Senior Jo Diw and sophomore Molly Lutmer are the most prolific returners. Diw scored 299 points (14.2 ppg) and hit 30-of-113 3-pointers (26.5 percent). She was 47-of-87 (54 percent) at the foul line, grabbed 157 rebounds, made 67 steals and had 47 assists.
Lutmer provided 206 points (9.8 ppg) while making 54 assists. She was deadly beyond the arch, landing 46-of-127 (36.2 percent) to lead the team. Lutmer had the best accuracy rate in the RRC among those taking at least 50 treys.
Senior Grace Stewart scored 88 points (4.2 ppg) and snared 94 rebounds, with senior Isabel Saemisch, who saw limited playing time, also returning.
The team is certain to benefit from the return of senior Alyssa Kruger to the lineup after she missed all of last season after having shoulder surgery. Kruger scored 60 points (2.9 ppg) as a sophomore and will be expected to be a key contributor on both ends of the floor.
Juniors Gabby West and Natalie Martinez, sophomores Jaqueline Guardado, Magley Orellana and Hannah Peterson and freshmen Ainsley Marburger and Quinn Whiton round out the varsity roster.
Morrow and assistant coaches Ashley Fricke and Courtney Bahney have been persistent in attracting new faces to fill in spots on the sub-varsity level, including youth teams below seventh grade. The Jayettes are hopeful of playing a full freshman and junior varsity schedule for the first time in many seasons.
“It has to start from the youth teams,” Morrow said. “You have to have girls playing basketball for a couple of years before they reach high school.”
Morrow said he has had to remind himself to be patient.
“You look at the calendar and think ‘we should be here’ at a certain date, but that won’t work for us, because we started weeks behind,” he said. “However, I am confident our girls will make the adjustments they need. I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and energy at all levels and the amount of support we have been receiving, from the administration to the public. If we can pick things up, by the first few weeks we will have an idea of what kind of team we will be.”
Perry will play GMG in the North Polk Jamboree Nov. 14 at 6:45 p.m. They will host Des Moines North in a JV/varsity twinbill beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. The Jayettes will then play three times Saturday in scrimmages at Des Moines East against the hosts as well as Harlan and Pella.
The second official contest is a girls-only set at Greene County Nov. 28, with the Jayettes and Bluejays to host Carroll for a RRC twinbill Dec. 1.
“Everyone is working hard,” Morrow said. “I hope we see a big crowd Friday to get the season going — the team deserves it.”