ENTERPRISE — Depth, in terms of varsity basketball experience, is something the Enterprise girls basketball team will be lacking in early stages of this season.
The Outlaws saw five players graduate, and lost a sixth player to transfer who would have started in Asiya Salim.
“I have two players that have extensive varsity experience — Rilyn Kirkland and Jada Gray, both good athletes; both good basketball players,” said head coach Mike Crawford, who is entering his 33rd year leading Enterprise. “Maci Marr, who got a lot of minutes last year in this COVID world, she’s solid. She’s going to be a good player. She is next in having minutes. When you go to anybody else (on our roster) there (aren’t) many minutes.”
That’s not to say the Outlaws are lacking in athletic ability, however.
“It isn’t the athleticism, it’s the knowledge base coming to the varsity level and performing at the varsity level, both offensively and defensively, (that) is a major challenge right now,” Crawford said.
Madison Wigen, Emily Love and Alex Rowley are among the players who saw action last spring or at the JV level who will play an extensive role for Enterprise.
Crawford said Wigen will be a “serious” player inside for the Outlaws this winter. He also noted that, typically, there is a surprise player who steps up that he isn’t necessarily expecting to early on, and he’ll be looking for that athlete to fill a role.
“Those surprises are always the good thing. I know Rilyn and Jada are going to do their part,” he said. “It’s going to be (who) is the surprise player or two or three.”
He said there is a pretty big learning curve for the team, and that it will likely take a few games on the court for the team to find a rhythm.
“There will be serious learning every time we play,” he said. “Fortunately, we have 12 games (in the) preseason. I think we will (get better), it’s just going to take a little time to know all the things I have to teach them.”
Those early games will be the place that the players get the needed experience that can’t necessarily be duplicated in practice.
“We’re going to have to play some games to have some learning situations to fall back on — something they (can) relate to,” he said.
Defense, which is always a calling card for the Outlaws, will be leaned on once again.
“I think our defense is going to be our strongest thing,” Kirkland said. “We’re all pretty aggressive and tough, and we like to fight for the ball.”
The senior noted the youth on the team, as well, but said several girls who didn’t play in June are on the court.
“There are a lot of girls that didn’t play during the spring season, so it’s exciting to have those girls out,” she said. “We have a younger team. There’s not very many seniors.”
Enterprise was 5-5 during the summer, but is just two seasons removed from going 17-7 and missing out on the state tournament by one game.
Aside from Union, Enterprise didn’t see anybody from the Blue Mountain Conference play in the spring, leaving the team not quite knowing what to expect. Crawford likened it to when the team joined the BMC several years back, but said there is a positive in the lack of knowledge.
“The good news about that is they don’t know anything about us,” he said.
The Outlaws open at home Wednesday, Dec. 1 against Wallowa, then hit the road for 10 games — including Dec. 14 at Joseph — before returning home Dec. 22 against Imbler. Enterprise’s BMC opener is Dec. 30 when it hosts Stanfield.