After seven seasons as head coach of the Putnam County boys basketball team followed by the last two years as an IVCC men’s basketball assistant, Josh Nauman has taken over as the head coach of the IVCC women’s team in 2019-20.
“I was ready to be a head coach again,” Nauman said. “I missed it and was ready to do that again. When the women’s job opened up, I decided to make the change after about 21 years with the boys in high school and then the last two here, but this is a fun group to be around. The athleticism is different with the girls. We had to take out all the alley-oop and dunk plays. No Lisa Leslie’s out there, but I think the girls listen better and the girls don’t seem to care about who the star is or who gets the most points and things like that. They just want to get better as a team.”
The Eagles will be young this season with eight of the 10 players being freshmen — including two players from Ottawa who didn’t play last year.
One of the two sophomores — Putnam County graduate Presley Hatton — is unable to play basketball until the IVCC volleyball season is over.
The other sophomore retuning is Earlville alumna Emily Cook, who will be looked upon to be the leader, especially early on.
“Emily has been strong so far,” Nauman said. “She’s been doing most of the ball handling for us and has just been solid al around.”
Freshman Gabby Englehaupt, a Hall graduate, was strong in her first college game with 20 points in a 60-51 loss to Morton.
“I think she told me her high in high school was 18 points, so a nice way to start her college career,” Nauman said.
Also scoring in double figures with 10 points against Morton and looking to provide the same spark throughout the season is La Salle-Peru graduate Aubrie Roda. Nauman expects her to be one of the Eagles top shooters and ball handlers.
Hall graduate Janessa Hart, St. Bede alumna Naomi Ochuba and Meredith Sidwell, from Deer Creek-Mackinaw, will be in the post for IVCC.
“Meredith came a ways from Dee-Mack, but her parents went to school here and she has family here and we’re glad to have her,” Nauman said. “We also have Naomi Ochuba from St. Bede who is going to pay a lot and be active in the paint for us.”
Madelynn Uitermarkt is a fiery guard from Kewanee who provides some scoring and a lot of energy and quickness, according to Nauman.
Ottawa graduates Maddie Porter and Zoe Miller are excited to be back on the court.
“Maddie Porter of Ottawa got a hold of the school before I even got the job and said she regretted not playing in high school,” Nauman said. “She wanted to try to play and at the time we only had five girls so I was more than happy to have her. Then Zoe Miller heard Maddie was playing and thought she wanted to give it a shot as well, so I’m happy to have them both.”
Nauman said the strong point of the team is going to be defense, but shooting is an area where the Eagles may struggle.
“It’s not a strong shooting unit for sure,” Nauman said. “I think the speed of the college game is the biggest adjustment from high school. But I think that part will get better and I think for a lot of freshmen the shooting will improve some as the game slows down for them.”
The Eagles are 0-1 on the season after a 60-51 loss to Morton. IVCC returns home Nov. 12 to face Malcolm X College.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.