There were so many familiar things for a Karen Weitz-coached Centennial basketball team Wednesday night.
The relentless full-court press, the liberal substitutions, the timeout in the first minute of the game when her team’s start wasn’t up to her standards and, of course, a victory.
But for the first time, Weitz did all of that coaching the boys team. After racking up 691 wins (610 at Centennial) as a girls coach, Weitz earned her first victory on the boys’ bench with a 55-32 road win over Clark.
“It’s like I tell everybody, I think basketball is basketball,” said Weitz, who is coaching the girls and boys teams at Centennial this season. “I think the main thing with these guys was just to get down some discipline, some standards. Just to get them to play hard is a big thing. Because if we can play hard, it can kind of make up for some mistakes that you’re doing.”
The Bulldogs (1-0) definitely played hard, especially on the defensive end. Centennial forced 24 turnovers, limited Clark to 17-for-41 shooting (41.5 percent) and held a 36-22 rebounding advantage. The Chargers were 1-for-7 from the field in the fourth quarter as Centennial closed the game on a 14-2 run.
“Defensively, that’s always been our bread and butter with our girls,” Weitz said. “We just think if we can play hard endline to endline and do good things and have good rotations and wear down some teams, it’ll play to your benefit.”
Senior Elijah Burney, who scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, said Weitz has made a major difference in the team this season. The Bulldogs were 10-14 last season.
“She’s a winner, and she instills that confidence in us every day at every practice,” Burney said. “I’m grateful that I can play under her.”
For all the things that Centennial did well, handling the ball wasn’t one of them. The Bulldogs turned the ball over 25 times, a number that definitely stuck out to Weitz.
“The mistakes that we made, we’re not going to beat teams that are as good as us and better,” Weitz said. “We can’t keep doing this night in and night out, and we know that.”
While Weitz is noticeably intense on the bench, Burney said the biggest differences with her coaching have come during practices.
“It’s very structured, very disciplined,”said Burney, who added five rebounds and three steals. “She lets us cut no corners.”
Weitz said the expectations she has might be new for the players on the boys team, but she’s not about to lower the bar.
“I think they’re going through practices that they’ve never gone through before,” Weitz said. “Those that want to embrace it embrace it and understand. And those that don’t will probably just end up moving along at some point.
“I know what it takes to be a winner, and if you don’t have those qualities and those standards, then we probably won’t be a good fit. Because I won’t settle for anything less.”
Toby Roberts added 18 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Bulldogs.
Weitz, who has won 13 state titles with the girls team, including seven in a row, said she’s enjoying coaching both squads, but maybe not all of the “other stuff” off the court that comes with running two teams.
“The coaching is easy,” Weitz said. “The practices are easy. I can do back-to-back practices all day long. I can do back-to-back games all night long. The other stuff is the exhausting part. But you know what? I think I’m built for it.”