Lake girls’ basketball finished 2-19 only two seasons ago, but it has in a long-awaited rebirth added another key spark in first-year head coach Denny Meyer.
The renaissance began as its athletes strived to build upon the little bit of sunshine that former veteran head coach Dick Fox brought to the Lake gym in ’07-’08 with 14-7 overall, 9-5 SLL records, before Meyer took over, and got them poised for the next step.
Meyer has managed to light the fuse on this explosive Lake basketball juggernaut, which is blowing through its competition to the tune of a break-neck 10-0 overall (6-0, SLL) record.
It’s in part thanks to his equally-no-nonsense coaching methods, although if you ask him, Coach Meyer will probably dismiss such musings and mention that back in his own prep playing days in the late 1970s and early ’80s, he was nothing special.
“Nope, I never won any All-SLL distinctions, or any all-district awards, or anything like that,” chuckles Meyer.
Meyer ironically-enough played his own prep round ball with longtime Lake rival Genoa, as an average, but solid and scrappy point guard. He garnered nothing more than two varsity letters at the culmination of his junior and senior years, before graduating in ’81, “so I guess that means that I was just born to coach, and not play.”
“For the last three years, I had been coaching at Oak Harbor, and I was with the boys for one year, and the girls for two, and I had some really good times out there, and I really learned a lot,” continues the former Fed Ex employee.
Meyer joined the Rockets only a handful of seasons ago. But around 14 years ago he found the Xs and Os of life’s game plan moving himself and his young family out to the Phoenix, Arizona area via a better opportunity with the worldwide courier, which is where Meyer would ultimately bask in the golden sunshine of his greatest coaching success to date.
There, he was as the co-founder of the Amateur Athletic Union Arizona Silver Streaks basketball program, which he helped lead to two prestigious Arizona State AAU titles while leaving his mark on the Valley of the Sun.
“Last January, I had heard that the Lake job was going to be coming up to be open,” explains Meyer, “so, I started looking into it way back then, and going to some of their games whenever I could, and I watched them closely, and started to finally get a feel for them.
“I didn’t really look around anywhere else, because I just really liked what I saw at Lake, I really liked their players, and I thought they had a lot of good, young talent to build upon on their team,” offers the first-year bench boss, “plus, it was close for me, and I knew I wouldn’t have to move far. I was still living in Oak Harbor at the time, and I work in Genoa, so that made the Lake job nice.
“The other thing is,” he says, “when I first started watching these girls play last year, I didn’t really feel that they were really strong defensively, and I’m big on defense. I think I’ve been able to come in, and work them hard on defense in both practice and in our games. And now to watch the way these girls just swarm on defense, we’re averaging forcing our opponents into 32 turnovers per game. I mean, we’ve just been relentless with the way we’ve played defense against teams this year, and I think that’s just something that has to come from deep within your heart, to want to play good, tough defense.
“When I first got here, I had always heard that the attitudes are just terrible at Lake, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. Because I’m a very hard working coach, I put a lot of time into my job, I’m intense, and like I said, I work my players very, very hard in both games and practice, and so far, I haven’t heard one girl complain. They’ve all bought into that philosophy.
“I’d say this team is very hard-working, too. They’re very close-knit. We have a group of fast athletes who are always going to hustle to the ball, and go the floor for loose balls, and pressure other teams, and because of all that, I don’t think we’ve once been outworked as a team yet all this year.”
Coach Meyer and his Flyers really have not even been close to having been handed their first “L” yet on the young season. The last time Lake’s girls’ basketball program won a title was way back when Coach Meyer was still hooping it up for Genoa in 1979, and that’s when the Flyers were still members of the Northern Lake League.