VAN WERT — Van Wert’s new head basketball coach, Ben Laudick, is currently vacationing at the Grand Canyon. Like Arizona, the Cougars had a giant hole after Mark Bagley stepped down at the begining of April. They didn’t look very far, though, as after 11 years of being in the ranks, Laudick will take over at the helm.

Laudick is 1998 graduate of Van Wert and has recently served six seasons under Coach Bagley as the junior varsity coach. For the five years before that, he served as the freshman coach.

That experience being around the program is something that Laudick plans to guide him in this transition.

“I think it will help me out quite a bit,” said Laudick. “I’m familiar with the players. I know what buttons to push, to get them to work harder, and what buttons not to push. I have an upper hand there because I’m familiar with it. As opposed to being in a new program, where I don’t know anybody.”

It’s no secret that every coach has his own style of play. Laudick expects his teams to be vicious defensively.

“We’re going to be aggressive [on defensive],” said Laudick. “We are going to be defensively set. We are going to be ‘up in your stuff.”

“Offensively, I let my guys have a little bit more freedom,” said Laudick. “If you’re open I want you to shoot it, and shoot it with confidence. We aren’t going to change a ton of things offensively.”

While the Cougars may not change their style of play too much, the players themselves will change a lot. Nate Place, Blake Henry, Drew Bagley and Lawson Blackmore all graduated, and those four played a bulk of the minutes on the hardwood last year. Luckily, two key players return in Owen Treece and LeTrey Williams.

“Having Owen [Treece] and LeTrey [Williams] back, both have quality varsity time, will help” said Laudick on what the Cougars are bringing back. “We have a large senior class this year. We have Tanner Barnhart, Clayton Profit and Jake Hileary, who each got some minutes this year. We have some experience, but there will be some growing pains. I’m really excited with the guys we have, they have been working really hard this summer.”

The Cougars went up to Findlay earlier this month as a team. They also have been having some open gyms with local teams. One thing that Laudick has been keying is a focus on the team’s shooting. All summer a major focus has been getting up as many shots in the gym as possible.

Laudick has credited Coach Bagley with helping him along this odyssey of becoming a head basketball coach.

“[Bagley] has helped me along the way” said Laudick. “I was a JV coach, and I didn’t know everything about being a coach. He was a mentor, I appreciate everything he has done for me. He loves Van Wert basketball and so do I.”

Coach Laudick is excited for the winter so Cougar basketball can start back up. As should Van Wert fans, there is a lot to look forward to.