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Marian Catholic's Ashton Millender will continue her playing career at DePaul next season. | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media
Time has not been on Dan Murray’s side.
By the time Marian Catholic named the former Lisle and Immaculate Conception coach to succeed Annie Byrne, who resigned to become the director of operations at the Legends Sportsplex in Bourbonnais, the summer was all but over.
“The timing of it all is the biggest thing right now,” said Murray, who inherited a team that went 33-1 and edged Rolling Meadows 48-47 for the Class 4A state championship in 2013 on a buzzer-beater by Kauai Bradley.
“We didn’t get the summer together,” he said. “The first day of practice was our first day together. It’s going to take a while to mesh and come together. We’re just trying to take it slow and get better day by day.”
Taking it slow is easier said than done with the wealth of talent Byrne left behind and the expectations that come with being the defending state champion. Marian Catholic also opens the 2013-2014 season as the No. 1 team in the Chicago Sun-Times Girls Basketball Super 25.
“Not having that much time together before the season could be a positive,” Murray said. “Things are all new and the girls have to concentrate every day in practice. Every day they’re learning something new. They can’t look too far ahead.”
Among the players Murray inherited is 5-10 senior guard and DePaul recruit Ashton Millender. Millender averaged nearly 16 points game last year and connected on better than 50 percent of her three-point attempts.
There is also slick junior point guard Teniya Page, who averaged 12 points and four assists per game, and Bradley, who led the Spartans in rebounding with 218 including the one they are still mumbling about in Rolling Meadows.
Five-foot-10 senior forward Dajhae Mullins is completely recovered from the knee injury that limited her minutes last season, and 6-1 senior Katie Sedor is expected to fill the big shoes left vacant by the graduated Megan Walsh (269 points, 204 rebounds).
“The key to this team very well may be our depth,” Murray said. “There are a number of talented players who return who should be able to add versatility and a number of lineup combinations.”
Meanwhile, Murray isn’t rushing anything as Marian Catholic prepares to defend its title.
“We’re just going to take it day by day,” he said.