The North Zulch Bulldogs basketball team began the 2018 season and a new era under Coach Matt Kirschner with a loss to Franklin on Saturday as well as their first home matchup of the season on Tuesday.
“The style we want to play is very up-tempo,” said Kirschner, who also serves as the school’s athletic coordinator. “We have a lot of quickness but not a lot of size, so we want to keep the games moving pretty fast.”
This is a new style for the players at North Zulch. Their varsity roster will consist of five seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. In their season opener, they struggled to remain in control with the new system.
“We knew there would be a learning curve,” said Kirschner. “It is an adjustment, but the kids are willing to play that style. They just need to trust in it and follow the rules that I give them. They will be fine overall.”
One of the seniors that graduated last year was Gerhart Wise, who recorded over 3,000 points in his North Zulch career. Kirschner is starting a fresh slate in the program, but was asked to speak about the importance of leadership amongst his players in a new situation.
“In terms of leadership, age does not matter,” said Kirschner. “Natural born leaders will arise regardless of what class they are in. Right now I am just trying to break any bad habits and they are trying to adjust to my expectations. Those who take ownership the fastest will be the leaders.”
The Bulldogs have embraced their blank slate and will try to lay the foundation for something special in their program this season. Kirschner has named five starters, but is open to making necessary adjustments as they see more action.
“Everyone talks about wins and losses, but I do not think that is what it is about yet,” said Kirschner. “I think it is about understanding what we want to do, work ethic, teamwork and respect.”
On top of teaching the game, the new coach is using his opportunity to instill that respect and teamwork into his players. He has stressed handing the officials the ball as well as thanking the passer that made the basket possible.
“I want to go to the playoffs,” said Kirschner. “We will see what happens there. But as long as the kids get better from day one by the end of the season, it is a successful year.”
On Saturday, the Bulldogs will host Milano for their homecoming matchup. The JV team will tipoff at 4 p.m. followed by the Varsity.