By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The slate is clean, the canvas is blank. What will Bedford North Lawrence basketball look like in 2023-24? With a new coach, with many new faces expected on the eventual varsity roster, nobody is quite sure. Time to apply the brush strokes.
The Stars opened official practice sessions for the upcoming campaign on Monday afternoon. Kurt Godlevske started his tenure feeling the stress of a shortened preparation period. So much to do, so little time since his belated hire in mid-June. If he thought the last five months flew by, the next two weeks leading up to the opener will seem like a packed whirlwind vacation.
So with no time to dabble, Godlevske will do his best Van Gogh – without losing an ear or his sanity – with bold brush strokes, working on a masterpiece with unfamiliar subjects and unusual colors. BNL returns only two players with textured experience.
“Stressful,” Godlevske described his official return to BNL Fieldhouse, following his successful tenure with the girls program over a decade ago. “Trying to make sure we have enough in to counter the different things that teams can do to you. We’re basically starting from scratch, and as a first-year coach that’s a lot of information, trying to keep it simple enough so that we play and not think.
“We have only two experienced players, but we have kids who have had success at the JV level. Taking the next step is a difficult thing. So we don’t know what to expect.”
Godlevske stepped into the void created by the unceremonious departure of predecessor Jeff Hein, already late off the starting block because of the timing of the change. The month of June is a key offseason bonding period for workouts, scrimmages and camps, and he took over exactly halfway through that month.
“The days this summer were pretty important for me to evaluate players, from the standpoint of what makes it best for us, and teach them enough of the principles that it wasn’t completely new to them,” Godlevske said. “We have a pretty good core group. We’ve made a lot of strides.”
Godlevske, the 10th head coach in the program’s 49-year history, has based his success (120-41 in seven seasons with the BNL girls, including a state championship in 2013) on the basics. Three principles that don’t require the most physical talent but demand the most focus. The most room for growth, to paraphrase golf legend Bobby Jones, is always the “five inches between the ears.”
“We want to be the toughest, most disciplined, and the smartest team on the floor,” Godlevske said.
“What I like most about our team is their unselfish personality we have about everything we do. Nobody is trying to do too much or out of character. We’re having discussions about what everyone’s role will be, and I believe they will buy in 100 percent and do their best to be successful.”
BNL started this Opening Day with 22 athletes, although that number might change if any freshmen are ready for the next two levels or if any cuts are made.
The next steps: public workouts (the annual intrasquad scrimmage on Nov. 13 and the IHSAA sanctioned scrimmage at Martinsville on Nov. 16) to reveal progress or expose problems. No detail will be overlooked in the practice sessions.
“We have to get really solid defensively, make sure we shore up the little things,” Godlevske said. “Take care of the basketball, know where to go with the basketball, cover all aspects of the game. We have to get really polished, and we have a lot to cover.”
BNL will start the regular season on Nov. 21 at Bloomington North.