Luke Reigel hopes to keep a good thing going.
So does Jacob Yorg — with his own fingerprints on an established model.
Reigel had a breakthrough as coach of the UW-Parkside men’s basketball team last season, leading the Rangers to a 20-9 record and their first Great Lakes Valley Conference championship with a 14-4 mark.
The 40-year-old Reigel was named the GLVC Coach of the Year and NABC Midwest District Coach of the Year.
But without graduated GLVC Player of the Year Jeremy Saffold, Reigel will be challenged to maintain what the Rangers achieved last season.
Yorg, meanwhile, replaces Jenny Knight-Kenesie, the most successful coach in the history of the Parkside women’s program. He inherits one full-time returning starter in 5-foot-10 forward Danielle Slivka, his only senior, and will have eight freshmen and sophomores among his 13 players.
Here is a look at the Parkside teams as their seasons approach:
HEAD COACH: Luke Reigel, 11th season.
ASSISTANT COACHES: Tom Riegel, Andrew Atkins and Keven Bradley.
LAST SEASON: 20-9 overall, 14-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
ROSTER (*-denotes letterwinners): Senior — *Colt Grandstaff, 6-2 guard. Juniors — *Jordan Mach, 6-2 guard; *Zygimantas Riauka, 6-9 forward; Tavaris McNeil, 6-1 guard; Mohamed Mohamed, 6-6 forward. Sophomores — *Andy Mazurczak, 6-1 guard; Leavon Head, 5-11 guard; Jimmy Gavin, 6-2 guard; T.J. Hemauer, 6-4 forward; *David Mlachnik, 6-2 guard; Andis Malahovskis, 6-9 forward. Freshmen — Cameron Frank, 6-0 guard; Manny Joshua, 6-5 forward; Mike Novak, 6-8 forward; Gregory Smith, 6-1 guard.
OUTLOOK: It was a year to remember for Reigel. The question now is whether he can keep it going.
The biggest hole has been left by Jeremy Saffold, who was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year after averaging 18.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Also graduated is second-leading scorer Conrad Krutwig (11.5, 5.4 rebounds).
But there’s also been a huge addition. Jordan Mach, a strong outside shooter who suffered a severe knee injury as a sophomore in January 2012, is back at full strength after sitting out all last season.
Mach started all 27 games as a freshman and had the Rangers off to a 7-3 start as a sophomore before injuring his knee. He averaged 14.0 points as a freshman and was averaging 11.8 at the time of his injury
“I’m 100 percent now and I worked hard all summer to get back,” Mach said. “When I’m healthy, I can spread the floor and make it easier for our guards to get to the basket.”
And that will go a long way in helping offset the loss of Saffold and Krutwig.
“Jordan has a unique skill set,” Reigel said. “To be able to shoot the ball the way he does. He can extend his range to two or three steps behind the 3-point line, so that opens things up for guys who like to penetrate, it opens up for your big men inside. That’s a dimension not a lot of teams have.
“And on the defensive side, he’s a good off-the-ball defender.”
The Rangers will be fortified by the return of Mazurczak, their floor leader who averaged 7.7 points and 3.1 assists as a freshman. Riauka was a strong inside presence, averaging 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting .531 from the floor.
Coming off the bench last season was Grandstaff, Parkside’s only senior this year, who averaged 10.1 points and shot .514 from the floor, including .359 from 3-point range.
But a concern for Reigel is an overall lack of height. Other than Riauka, there aren’t a lot of taller players prepared to make a difference at this point.
“We’re going to have to mix up our defenses and do some things we’ve never done on the defensive side to hide our lack of size,” Reigel said. “We just don’t have those 6-5 and 6-6 wings that we’ve had for quite a while.”
One new player who could step in and make an immediate impact is Gavin, a transfer from Bradley.
“Jimmy has a chance to be an explosive scorer,” Reigel said. “At Bradley, he practiced against great competition and when he gets comfortable in our system, he’s going to find ways to score.”
HEAD COACH: Jacob Yorg, first season.
ASSISTANT COACHES: Jordan Wilde, Brittany Beyer, Jadee Rooney.
LAST SEASON: 21-10 overall, 12-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
ROSTER (*-denotes letterwinners): Seniors — *Danielle Slivka, 5-10 forward. Juniors — *Gaby Bronson, 6-0 guard-forward; *Maddie Johnston, 5-11 forward; *Jennifer Blunt, 6-1 center. Sophomores — *Rani Singh, 5-10 forward; *Kristin Conniff, 6-0 guard; *Tara Knapstein, 5-11 guard; *Stephanie Furr, 5-11 forward. Freshmen — Amber Bullock, 5-9 guard; Brittney Fair, 5-7 guard; Bailey North; 6-0 forward-center; Nafeshia Holifield, 6-0 forward-center; Alleah Voight, 6-1 forward-center.
OUTLOOK: To say Jacob Yorg has a difficult assignment would be an understatement. All he has to do is follow Jenny Knight Kenesie, who went 195-125 in 11 seasons as the Rangers’ coach.
But the 33-year-old St. Louis native is up for the challenge even though he returns just one full-time starter in Slivka. Among the players he will be replacing is leading scorer Jenna Endisch (13.6 points) and second-leading scorer Sierra West (9.1).
“Right now, we’re starting at the basics,” said Yorg, who served as associate head coach at Maryville from 2008-13. “The conference tournament is a big thing. That’s our goal and that’s where we want to start. We got picked for fourth and we never want to be lower than what we were picked.
“Continuing our streak of NCAA tournaments is always our goal. That should always be an expectation. Just how we’re going to get there is still up in their air, but that is our goal. If you don’t have that goal, what is the point of playing?”
Slivka started all 31 games last season and averaged 8.5 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game.
“You cannot ask for a better young lady, especially when it comes to work ethic,” Yorg said.
Other top returnees include Bronson (8.5 points, 3.7 rebounds) and Knapstein (7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds).
With four freshmen and four sophomores among his 13 players, a lot has yet to be settled. But Yorg sees promise — not to mention a rare luxury with height. Six of his players are 6-0 or taller.
“We have size this year, which is unusual for a Parkside team,” he said. “So it’s trying to get everybody used to that difference. In the past, it’s almost been five guards. It’s just a lot of getting used to each other.”
How will Yorg contrast from Knight-Kenesie?
“I’m blessed to call Jenny a friend of mine, but we do it two different ways,” he said. “Our expectation levels are very similar, I’m a little more quiet where she was very passionate on the floor. People are going to see the difference on the sideline, but the team as a whole is always going be the same.”