Cue: Team will surprise fans
Losing eight players to graduation – four of them starters – might concern some coaches. But, not Blue Earth Area Buccaneer girls basketball coach Al Cue.
“Yes, there are some fans out there who might be concerned about our team this year,” Coach Cue says. “But, I think we will surprise them.”
Cue says he is excited about this year.
“Last year, with all those seniors, we were expected to do well,” he says. “And, except for the last eight and a half seconds of the season, we did have a great year.”
The coach is referring to losing to St. Peter in the Section Tournament championship game on the final play of the game, and just missing a trip to the State Tournament.
Cue admits that the Bucs could be a little rough at the start of the season.
“We have some real talented kids,” he says. “What they lack is varsity experience, but that will come fast.”
The team is being led by four seniors – point guard Ashley Olson being the only returning starter from last year’s squad.
The other seniors are Katie Krieger, Syd Ristau and Rylee Wagner.
“We also have a very talented group of eight juniors out,” Cue says. “They won 20 or 21 games last year as B-squaders, and they are ready to see what they can do on varsity.”
Cue’s expected starters to begin the season are Olson, Ristau, Wagner and juniors Camille Driscoll and Sara Warmka.
The Bucs have 28 girls out this year, compared to 29 last year. The squad includes nine freshmen and one eighth-grader.
Plus, three foreign exchange students are out this year. They will play on the C-squad, Cue says.
The coach says he will once again stress defense.
“Defense is important, especially when we get to the post season,” he says. “We probably play man-to-man defense 75 to 80 percent of the time. We will run a zone only if we don’t match up well with the other team.”
The coach says the team also runs more plays than some other area teams.
“The girls think we have too many plays on offense. We do a lot of motion offense,” he says. “With a lot of new players on varsity this season, it will take them a little time to know all the plays.”
The coach might make a few adjustments from past years, due to the size of his players this year.
The Bucs have not been known to field a tall team, but that is different this season.
“Overall, we are pretty tall,” Cue notes. “We have two girls at six feet, and we haven’t had one that tall since 2001.”
The two are Krista Hassing and Kristine Volz.
“Krista has incredible arm span, and she uses it to her advantage,” Cue says. “We should be a good rebounding team, and that will help us push the ball down the court.”
While the Buccaneers are excited about this year, they will be facing some tough competition.
“St. Peter is obviously the conference favorite,” Cue says. “But we hope to give them a run for their money. They snuck by us last year, and they have most of the team back, but I think we can play with them.”
The coach adds that St. Peter is also the team to beat in the Sections, as they are the reigning champions.
“USC has a lot of their team back and will be tough,” the Buc head coach says. “Lake Crystal will also have a good bunch of players back. Kasson-Mantorville will also be good again; they beat us in overtime last year.”
Despite the good teams in the area, Cue still has pretty high hopes for this season.
“I like to think we will be right there competing with all of them,” he says. “We should; we have a talented bunch of kids who I know will work hard.”
Assisting Coach Cue is Terry Barnes, B-squad coach; Chris Detert, C-squad; and new this year is Jodee Dittbenner, coaching eighth grade.
“I’m pretty lucky,” Cue says. “I get to teach all day, and then after school I get to work with the 28 best girls in the high school. They are not only good athletes, but they are very successful academically.”
The coach says he tells the girls that while he wants them to excel in the gym, it is what they do in “the other half of the building (classrooms) that is more important.”
The Buccaneers open the season the way they have for a number of years, facing Granada-Huntley-East Chain. That game will be played in the BEA gym tonight, Monday, Nov. 29.