FORTVILLE — Steve Doud has 15 years of head coaching experience and a pair of sectional championships under his belt.
Earlier this summer, Doud walked out onto the hardwood floor of the gym at Mt. Vernon High School to conduct his first open practice as MV’s girls basketball coach. Doud, the former Rensselaer Central and Mt. Vernon boys coach, was the head honcho of a high school basketball program for the first time in eight years.
He was a little nervous.
“Once we started doing things – working on footwork and shooting – I was excited,” Doud said.
Doud was hired June 16 to replace Julie Shelton, who left to become an assistant with the Butler University women’s basketball team. Since he was brought on well into in the offseason, Doud wasn’t able to get the Marauders into any team camps or shootouts, but he did see his squad play in six summer league games.
“In the two (games) that everyone was there, they looked really good,” Doud said. “You could tell coach Shelton has worked well with them.”
Doud is inheriting a talented bunch headlined by incoming junior point guard Sydney Shelton, the 2013-14 Hancock County Player of the Year and a Kentucky recruit. Immediately upon accepting the MV girls job, Doud began brainstorming ways to maximize Shelton’s talents.
As a JV assistant with Pendleton Heights, Doud observed how the Arabians’ boys varsity head coach, Brian Hahn, continued to unearth different sets to make sure current Butler standout Kellen Dunham – who led the state in scoring as a high school senior in 2011-12 – received as many quality shot attempts as possible despite seeing every form of defense known to man.
“Sydney is a special player. You can use Sydney in varying ways to help the other girls,” Doud said. “You can do a lot when you have a player like that. (Hahn) did a lot of things that got Kellen shots – we can do the same thing. We should be able to get other girls shots because of the attention (Shelton) gets.”
Under coach Shelton, the Marauders relied on her niece’s dribble-penetration skills, often pinning their offensive hopes on Shelton getting into the paint and having one of three things happen: a shot attempt, a foul or a kick-out to a shooter.
Under Doud – a proponent of a motion offense – MV will be adjusting its scheme.
“I’ll do whatever, but I would rather have motion,” he said. “It’s harder to defend a player when you don’t really know where she goes. We’ll start out with motion, for sure.”
Regardless of the level of basketball, a recurring theme during the offseason and preseason is players and coaches wanting to “run more.” Players love to run because it means less time hunkered down in a half-court offense, and it’s a query Doud was asked by his prospective players before he was hired.
“One of the first questions they asked me when I met with them during the interview process was if I was a ‘running type of coach,’” Doud recalled. “When you really get down to tournament time, very few teams can run and win games. If you can mix it, that’s nice. I just play the style I have. If they can run, we’ll run. If that’s not the most effective way, we have to go with what we have.
“It’s easy to play a running style the first five games, but when you get to the last five, you want to play according to how you want to play in the tournament. If that’s run and press – and I think they can do that – then OK, but the catch is how well can we rebound? We don’t really have a big girl presence. If you can’t rebound, it’s hard to run.”
Seniors Olivia Coleman and Shaely Duff and juniors Sadie Baugh and Ariana Sandefur joined Shelton in many of MV’s starting lineups last winter – and that’s likely to continue in 2014-15. The quintet played most of the season without 2014 senior Erica Moore, an Indiana All-Star who is now a forward for Purdue. Moore was coming off knee surgery last year and only played in nine of the squad’s 22 games.
“Most of the season they played without (Moore). Most of the wins they had, she wasn’t there and they figured out a way to win without her. This year, they have a new coach and a new style of play,” Doud joked.
Doud watched the 2013-14 outfit play five or six times while he was an athletic supervisor for Mt. Vernon co-athletic director Greg Roach and came away impressed with what her termed the team’s “gritty” zone defense, though his personal defensive strategy differs.
“I’m a man-to-man coach. (But) I’m not going to tank the zone,” he said. “We’re going to work on man-to-man, that way we have options.”
In pursuit of the program’s sixth straight season with at least 17 victories, Doud is excited to work with his current group.
“They’re awesome to work with. They respond to me on the floor. They were trying to do things I was teaching them to do,” Doud said. “They seemed very coachable and worked hard. What little I’ve worked with them, I’ve really enjoyed teaching the game to them.”
Notes: Mt. Vernon’s schedule is incomplete and Doud said it’s an ongoing struggle to schedule the team’s last two regular-season games. The IHSAA now permits teams to schedule 22 regular-season games without an in-season tournament, up from the previous total of 20 and one in-season tournament. … Doud is still unsure of JV coach Ashley Greulich’s return. Longtime assistant Tom Kirby is coming back. … Sydney Shelton is scheduled to compete at the IBCA/IHSAA Top 100 showcase July 23 at Ben Davis.