New Sheffield girls basketball coach Jeff Labesky has been here before.
In 2005, he took over a Kane Area High School varsity boys basketball team that went 5-18 the year prior. Two seasons later the team was in the District 9 playoffs and a year after that they were District 9 Class AA champions.
Labesky hopes to put together a similar turnaround in Sheffield as he takes over a Wolverines program that went just 2-20 a season ago.
The newcomer - with over 14 years of coaching experience in the Kane area - knows doing so won't happen overnight.
"There is no magic pill," he said. "We will only have two seniors again this year and we are going to be very young once again. My philosophy in Kane was to create a team with depth and talent and wear other teams down. My ultimate goal this season while a bit lofty is to finish with at least a .500 record and get back to the District 9 playoffs. Looking at the girls we have signed up, and at the schedule we have, I have a lot of confidence that we can get that done."
Labesky, while living in Kane for much of the past 21 years, is a 1982 graduate of Sheffield High School. While in Kane, he coordinated the area's elementary program for six years before spending four years as the Kane junior varsity boys coach. In 2005, he was promoted to head coach where he had a successful run leading the Wolves.
After going 6-17 in his first season, Labesky led Kane to an overall record of 49-27 between 2006 and 2008. That included three straight trips to the District 9 Class AA playoffs, a D-9 Class AA title in 2007, a D-9 runner-up finish in 2008 and back-to-back PIAA Tournament appearances.
If Labesky is going to make a similar turnaround happen at his alma mater, he will have to tackle the team's lack of depth - something he has attacked during the offseason.
"One of the biggest challenges is the number of kids," he said. "Last year, the team finished the year with just 10 girls and this year we have 19 signed up right now. I think we've done a good job of bringing some of that interest back."
In addition, Labesky hopes to have the black and orange bring a new style of game to the floor in 2011-2012.
"Hopefully, we are going to be more aggressive then teams have been recently," he said. "We want to be in your face on defense and put the ball in the basket on offense. Shooters have to be developed and I think the talent is here to really shoot the ball well."
If the preseason open gym and weight training sessions are any indication, Labesky thinks a resurgence in Sheffield girls basketball could be just around the corner.
"The numbers are up and the girls couldn't be more upbeat about the coming season," he said. "We're ready to go."