Dan Russell has been a fixture in the Galva boys basketball program coaching seventh grade, freshman and fresh-soph teams in recent years.

Dan Russell has been a fixture in the Galva boys basketball program coaching seventh grade, freshman and fresh-soph teams in recent years.

Russell remains involved in Galva hoops, but in a different capacity this season. He’s taken over as varsity head coach in the girls basketball program, replacing Steve Osborne, who stepped away after one year in charge of the Lady Wildcats.

“I wanted this job because it was a great opportunity for me and I believe the girls have talent and the work ethic to achieve great things this year and in the future,” Russell said. “I love being a part of Galva basketball and the girls job seemed to be a great fit.”

“With the support of Coach (Chance) Jones — having him there taking on the varsity boys job — it was an easy transition for me,” Russell added, noting he served as a volunteer coach for this year’s class of junior girls when they were fifth and sixth graders.

Russell inherits a group with plenty of varsity experience that will try to improve upon last year’s 10-22 campaign.

“It’s a very hard working group of young ladies and they’re fun to work with. They listen and want to learn,” Russell said. “I’ve been very pleased with their work ethic.”

The varsity roster features nine players in Russell’s inaugural season — seniors Josie Berry, Hannah Anderson and Rosemary Howell; juniors Brynn Patty, Darrah Schilling, Rachel Russell, Josie Williams and Emilyann Wexell; and sophomore Tressa Rogers.

“My seniors have really been good examples so far in practice,” Russell said. “That junior class saw a lot of playing time last year, which will be beneficial this year to this group.”

From his initial days of practice, Russell believes he has a talented team in the paint.

“I think we’re a balanced team. I think we have a lot of strength inside. We have three or four post players that will match up really well this year. I do have good guard play, also,” Russell said. “Obviously with our strength inside, I don’t know that I want to full-out fast break, but I want to push the ball up and look for easy shots off the break.”

While strength in the post will likely define the Lady Cats’ offense, Russell hopes to bring a physical and aggressive style to the defensive end of the floor.

“Defense has been a real focus for us the last week and a half — getting up and guarding people,” Russell said. 

“I want us to make an impact defensively with our hustle,” he added. “We can be a very physical team, and I want them to be a physical team. I want that night in and night out — that defensive effort, hustle and physicality — out of these girls.”

As a newcomer to the girls basketball scene, Russell admitted it will take some time to learn the opponents and their styles of play. And that’s why his primary concern to date is emphasizing the strengths of his team.

“We’ve just focused on what we can do well,” Russell said. “Then throughout the season with scouting, we can adjust to different teams.”

The season tips Monday (Nov. 13) in Woodhull as the Lady Cats are part of the 10-team field at the Ridgewood Thanksgiving Tournament. 

Galva is in Pool B along with Knoxville, Monmouth-Roseville, Orion and United. Orion is the first tourney opponent at 6 p.m. Monday in the middle school gym.

Russell is assisted by fresh-soph coach Mark Jeffrey, who’s also in his first year with the high school girls program.