CRESTVIEW — The last few weeks for new Crestview boys basketball coach Ken Meisner have been a whirlwind, but with the season opening next week, he’s finally settling into his job.
Meisner, an athletic trainer at Panhandle Orthopedics, brings a wealth of coaching experience from his native Illinois and having coached Amateur Athletic Union basketball here for the past five years.
“I’ve been coaching basketball since 1994-95,” he said. “I coached at local schools in Illinois. I’m also a big advocate for the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and I’ve been doing AAU down here five years, going on my sixth year.
“I’ve taken kids from all over the panhandle and competed against the bigger Nike sponsored teams and have been successful.”
He said he likes everything about coaching Crestview.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Meisner said. “It’s a great location with great facilities and a lot of great tradition.
“When I moved here, I thought it was a job I would possibly want to look into. When it came open, coach (Kevin) Pettis (the Crestview athletic director) came to the office and asked if I would be interested in applying for it. I thought about it and said, ‘What the heck, let’s see what happens.’”
Meisner said he threw his name in the ring, got an interview and got the job.
Meisner, who has followed the Bulldogs’ past few years, praised former coach Keith White’s work. However, other than an intensity similar to White’s, their coaching styles somewhat differ, Meisner said.
“Defense is probably going to be the biggest difference,” he said. “We are going to want to press a little bit more.
“Talking to the kids the last couple of weeks and getting to know the kids, they said they didn’t press a lot. It was a lot of up and down (the court), offensively. It was a lot of run and gun.”
Meisner said he likes to look for mismatches that his defense can exploit, and the Bulldogs will incorporate a variety of man-to-man, zone and zone press looks to create offense off the defense.
“We obviously want to take advantage of our opponents’ mistakes and capitalize pressing the ball full court,” he said. “I like to mix and match (defenses).
“We will actually change the defense within the defense … we will actually come out with a 2-3, half-court trap and then, all of the sudden, drop into a man-to-man.”
Meisner said the first few days with the team were “nerve racking” for him and the players.
“They see this new coach come walking in here, and I know it was scary for them because the last few years, they’ve had the same program and (knew) the plays in the past,” he said. “And I bring a whole new style in.
“I’m real big on discipline. Not just on the floor, but in the classroom and in the locker room. Appearance is one thing and how you present yourself in the community is another thing.”