For Eric Price, now he’s fully back home, right where his heart has always been.
Price, a 1997 Marquette Academy graduate and for years a close, loyal fan and more recently an assistant coach, has been tabbed to take over the varsity girls basketball job for the 2020-21 season, whenever law makers, health officials and the IHSA deem that should be played.
The former MA freshman boys basketball coach and assistant football coach replaces Kayli O’Flanagan, who went 30-27 over the last two seasons at the Ottawa school.
“I’d always wanted to get into the varsity level of coaching, so when I heard there was an opening with the varsity girls, I was interested,” said Price, a native of Marseilles who moved with his family when he was in fourth grade and enrolled at St. Columba. “I liked coaching the freshman boys, but when you finish the schedule, you’re done. I’d rather have the season go on and play for a regional, a sectional, however far we can go.
“I’m excited for the opportunity and thank the school for the opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it … Whether we’re going to have a season or not, now that’s the tricky part.”
With his son, Ethan, now a sophomore at Marquette, Price will draw on interaction with his classmates over the years and from helping out in the weight room from time to time with some of the athletes now under his direction. That should help in his conversion both in going from girls to boys, but also from JV to varsity.
“I’m still learning the differences between boys and girls on the court, the personalities, their quirks, their styles,” said Price, “but the girls are picking up the new aspects just as quickly as the boys have. We’re all learning together.”
What the girls are learning from Price is much of what he learned when he was playing basketball at MA back in the day under coaches Terry Meredith and Dan McCarthy.
“A lot of the offensive sets that we’re putting in now is stuff that we ran when I was playing here,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s funny but when you’re a kid, you don’t realize that you’re going to keep all this with you over the years, but here we are, running the same things and using the same principles. It just comes full circle, I guess.”
Price considers himself an offense-minded coach, favoring the up-tempo style when the Lady Crusaders have the ball and a high-energy pressing defense when they are without it.
“I like to get shots up and to be aggressive offensively, like don’t pass up an open look. Score and have the defense take care of itself with hustle and smart play,” Price said. “Where last year’s team had so much length, this year’s team will not, with only one girl over 5-7, 5-8. But the girls are very athletic, most of the multi-sport girls, so we should be able to pressure a bit and push the tempo. We’re also a very young team, so there’s not a lot of actual game experience back.
“We’ll be a work in progress. Everyone starts fresh. Playing time is up for grabs and we’ll see how it plays out. I’m excited about it.”
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