Billy Dreher has played or coached basketball in different corners of the world, but he’s hoping to bring some stability to Springfield.
“I had a couple of options to go to a couple of places and just felt real comfortable at Springfield and had heard good things about the school and really liked all their administrators,” said Dreher, a former player at Cal Berkeley and Oklahoma State.
“I felt like it would be a real comfortable fit and a good setting for me. It’s a little bit of a change (over) what I’ve done that last 12 years, but I’m looking forward to it and excited.”
Dreher, who coached the Pope John Paul II boys last season, takes over Bryon Garner, who guided the Lady Bulldogs to a 4-21 record in his only season with the team.
“I know they’re all very young and hopefully we can just kind of build off of what they’ve kind of started and continue to get some of those young girls, now that they have some experience, to hopefully start winning a few more games,” said Dreher, who also coached boys’ teams at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Fla., Catholic-New Iberia, St. Louis in Lake Charles and Fruita Monument in Colorado. He last coached girls’ basketball at St. Thomas More in Champaign, Ill., from 2004-2006.
“As far as I know, we have a ton of young girls that got to play, maybe some of them more than they were supposed to because of injuries, which is obviously too bad for them last year, but at the same time, it definitely is great for us this year with having a lot of girls that got a lot of playing time.”
After meeting with the team recently, Dreher said he’s eager to begin working with the Lady Bulldogs starting next week. He said he hasn’t settled on the team’s style of play.
“I don’t ever just say, ‘This is exactly what we’re going to do,’ ” he said. “It’s high school. I feel it’s a little bit more you’ve got to sometimes adjust to what you have.
“I don’t think we have a lot of size from what I’ve seen, so we’ve got I think a group of athletic girls, so more than likely we’ll be playing some different up-tempo, pressing, lots of traps and things and try to take advantage of some of our strengths there. Hopefully then we can create some easy baskets for the team.”
That’s where Dreher said the summer will be key for Springfield as he expects to get about 15 or more games between league play and team camps before players begin playing with AAU teams in July.
“Sometimes summer is a little more important for teams to try to get some wins and get some confidence and get those girls playing a lot and believing in themselves before they get to next season,” Dreher said. “Hopefully we can win some games this summer and kind build off of that.”
Those summer games and camps won’t be the only time in the gym for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Just as important are your summer workouts and trying to work on some fundamentals and to get them trying to learn ahead of time some of the things I like to do and some of my expectations,” said Dreher, who also played and coached in Iceland and coached the USBL’s Florida Windjammers. “We’ll be in the gym as group definitely besides those games at least three times a week or more just trying to get the girls to be busy and find that love and passion for basketball and then just kind of keep improving.
“It seems like a long time, but before you know it, it’s September, October, and you’re starting up again.”
Dreher, who also served as assistant coach and general manager of the USBL’s Florida Sea Dragons, said one of his goals is basic.
“I think our district is very tough; I know that,” he said. “Other than that, the goal I think as any new coach going in is you want to see improvement,” Dreher said. “Based on what we did last year, maybe improvement means having a winning season.”
Springfield principal Spencer Harris is hoping to put the injury-filled season in the rearview mirror while giving the program a new direction with Dreher at the helm.
“Just kind of in talking with him, where he’s at in his life, what he wants to do, his goals, what he expects from his athletes, I really think he’s got a chance to have a positive impact on our girls’ program,” Harris said. “Girls and guys, we’ve had a lot of adversity over the past few years. I think that having stability at our coaches’ spots now moving forward, I think that that will help us. It’s not going to change injuries, but sometimes you just have some bad luck. Now we want to start making some good luck.”