Eagle girls see youth movement
By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM — While the future looks bright for the New Ulm girls’ basketball program, the Eagles may have to go though some growing pains this year with a young roster.
New Ulm brings back some talented players from last year, including junior Kirsten Dennis, sophomore Bryn Nesvold, freshman Daviney Dreckman and junior Miranda Suess. However, the Eagles will see many new faces on the roster this year with a young core coming up.
Dennis led the Eagles (11-14 last year) in scoring a year ago, averaging 15 points and 2 assists per game. Nesvold chipped in with 7.3 ppg, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game and Dreckman added 7.4 ppg and 3 rpg. Suess averaged 3 ppg and all four of them are expected to lead an eighth-grade class that has had a lot of success at the AAU level but hasn’t seen any varsity action.
Head coach Brian Batt will have a squad that will look to run and push the ball up the court.
“Everyone is expected to bring it up and drive it to the basket,” Batt said. “We don’t have the traditional post players like we’ve had in the past.”
It won’t be unusual for the Eagles to have five guards on the floor because there’s not a lot of height on the team. Batt said that he’s expecting big things from Dennis, who is in her second year of varsity experience for the Eagles and he said she moves the ball well.
“Because of our lack of size, we need to be able to play fast,” Batt said. “Kirsten Dennis is incredibly fast with the ball in her hands. She can score from outside the arc and in the lane. Her ability to beat defenders off the bounce will be crucial for getting her teammates open 3-point looks. She is a gym rat who is always putting in extra time outside of practice to grow her game.”
Batt said that Nesvold, who is 5-foot-10 inches, will be the closest to a post player that the Eagles have.
“Her long arms give her the ability to alter shots, but she is also quick enough to defend perimeter players,” Batt said. “This will be her third year on varsity, and she now finds herself in a leadership role, mentoring some of our younger players, a role she seems very comfortable with.”
Dreckman was one of New Ulm’s top players last year as an eighth-grader. Batt is also expecting her to make big strides this year with a year of experience under her belt.
“Daviney Dreckman is an incredibly confident and extremely strong athlete who plays older than she is,” he said. “She played extensive varsity minutes as an eighth-grader last year. She is one of the best finishers through contact I have seen in this program, and she continues to improve her outside shooting. She can also defend the entire court, and is a tireless worker in practice. Another true gym rat.”
While there’s going to be talent on the roster, some of the players might be a year or two away. Batt said he’s not expecting a state tournament appearance this year, but he’s excited to watch the team grow together. He’s coached the eighth-grade class in the offseason and they’ve battled some of the state’s top programs, winning some big games in the process. Batt knows that success won’t carry over right away, but there are good things ahead for the program.
“Now we’re developing a lot of these younger girls and we want them to be confident, we just want to have five people on the court to push the ball and we’ve been working on that this summer,” Batt said. “The first thought when they get the ball is ‘can I score,’ because we don’t want anyone out there that’s not a threat, because teams start figuring that out.”