Shelby Township, UticaDecember 10, 2012
Ike girls basketball welcomes new season with new coach
By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer
A new era has dawned for Utica Eisenhower’s girls basketball program.
The Eagles, featuring almost an entirely new core of players from last year, are led by a new coach — Mike Satawa.
“We have eight seniors on the team, but only two of them have varsity game experience as starters, with two of the other seniors playing about six minutes a game last season,” Satawa said. “So we are a team with 12 out of 14 girls who haven’t played key minutes in varsity games. So it is a learning experience for all members of the program.
“We lost over 85 percent of the scoring from last year’s team, so we are trying to find out where those points are going to come from, and we have been telling the girls that they have different roles from last season and need to look to score more.”
Satawa, who has coached high school basketball for 12 years, most recently the boys JV team at Utica Stevenson the past three seasons, said the Eagles have been working hard in the early going.
“So far, the team has worked hard day in and day out in practice and showed improvement from game one to game two,” he said. “It is a committed group of girls who want to have success this season and understand that it will be a process.”
Ike was 0-2 at press time after dropping a pair of Macomb Area Conference crossover games to Anchor Bay and Utica Ford II. The losses displayed some things the team needs to work on.
“I would like us to improve on our ability to score,” Satawa said. “Through the first two games, we are shooting 19 percent, which isn’t going to win you many basketball games.
I would also like to see us become more physical, both offensively and defensively.”
The coach noted that his team’s need to be more physical would make up for an overall lack of height and cut down on turnovers.
On the flipside, Satawa sees plenty of potential positives for Ike.
“We believe that our team strengths are our ability to play good defense and our character,” the coach said. “We are a very hard-working team that has been very coachable thus far.
“We are hoping that our transition offense is one of our strengths by the time we start league play, as we are very athletic and can run up and down the floor. We just need to be in control when we do so.”
While the Eagles are short on experience, there are a couple of exceptions in returning starters Natalie Nowak and Jessica Esser.
Nowak, a four-year member of the varsity, is the team’s point guard. Esser, in her third year on varsity, is the team’s best defensive player and a “pure athlete,” according to Satawa. The coach added that both players, who along with Mackenzie Hess make up the squad’s captains, will be looked upon to score more this season.
Satawa expects some relative newcomers will also play a big role for the squad.
“Laura Makarewicz is someone I believe could have a great senior season, as she has the ability to knock down open jump shots, and when she attacks the basket is an offensive threat,” the coach said. “I’ve been excited with the play of our freshman, Katie Hayes, who is up on varsity, as she has fit in nicely.”
“Right now, we are trying to find out who our top players and leaders are, as different girls have stepped up in pre-season scrimmages, as well as our first two games. We need more consistency from everyone, if we are to compete night in and night out.”