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Habit of play, attitude sought from Lefevre

July 10, 2019
Lou Lefevre said he looked on the internet for a magic wand, but figured out quickly they are all fake. They just don't work.

Hired before the busy month of June, boys' basketball coach Lou Lefevre brings his impressive resumé to North Harrison. Basketball fans of Southern Indiana may recognize the Lefevre name. He coached at Providence for 10 seasons, guiding the Pioneers to winning their first sectional since 1984 when they took the 2005-06 Class 2A title.

North Harrison's newly named boys' basketball coach, Lou Lefevre, coached the Cougars over the summer. Lefevre previously coached at Tipton and Providence after stints in Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. Photo By Brian Smith
Since then, Lefevre left Providence after the 2013-14 season for Tipton where he won two sectionals in five seasons.

Lefevre can sense the same urgency to end a sectional drought in Ramsey. North Harrison is the lone boys' basketball program in the Mid-Southern Conference to not win a sectional in the class era (1997-98).

"This is an exciting opportunity," said Lefevre. "It's kind of like Providence when I took over there. They hadn't won a sectional in 20 years. This school is in the same situation, unfortunately. It's exciting to try and be someone who can help or make a difference. It's not going to be easy. The competition we have to beat is tremendously good. (Defending Class 3A state champion) Silver Creek isn't going to be the only one that can end our season."

Statistically, Lefevre-coached teams have been among the best, regardless of class, at defending. Last season, his Tipton squad allowed only 43.62 points per game.

"Every coach knows the value of playing hard and good defense," said Lefevre. "It's the question of can you get your players to carry out what you want? I'm supposed to be a great defensive coach, but the way we play defense isn't the only way to play defense and be great. It's can you get them to carry it out right every time? That's the key. It's how the team carries out the maneuvers I want on offense and defense."

That is where building habits on the court becomes key for success. Lefevre utilized June to play games and hold practices. It ended the final week of June with a four-day D-One Basketball Camp in Fort Wayne. Lefevre said the team won games against weaker competition, played tight with mediocre teams and struggled against stronger squads.

"It's a whole different attitude and habit of play they don't have yet –– the doing the right things without having to think about it because it's a habit," he said. "They don't have it on defense and they don't have it on rebounding or on offense. They don't have the type of habits that could make them a top team right now. I didn't expect them to be a top team when I walked through the door."

The coach is aware it's a process, but one he hopes takes months instead of years.

"Right now, we are not ready to be a contender with a top team," said Lefevre. "Everybody knows there is potential here, but the sports world is full of potential that never gets realized. Potential is just that, something it could be. I don't have a magic wand. It's a cooperative effort between the coaching staff and the players wanting the same thing. It's going to be tough. I've been fortunate enough to have players that were able to carry out everything I wanted them to do, and, because of that, I've have some very successful teams."

Background on Lefevre includes taking over Mary Immaculate Academy in Connecticut as a 20-year-old in 1987, eventually winning state championships. Another stop in his native Connecticut (Terryville), led to a state championship. Lefevre then coached in Atlanta and Dallas, before coming to Indiana to take over Providence.

"I like coaching where basketball is important," he said. "A lot of places in Connecticut, basketball wasn't the No. 1 winter sport, hockey was … I had in the back of my mind to coach in Indiana. I know Indiana isn't what it was, but nothing is. Baseball isn't what it was either, but basketball in Indiana is so much better than anywhere else, and it isn't even close."

At North Harrison, Lefevre will teach part-time biology in the high school.

"Being able to be back in the high school and to teach part time was a draw," he said. "Coaching, when it's basketball season, while teaching, is like having two full-time jobs. I'm looking forward to a quality of life improvement."

Taking over for Kevin Jones, who went 10-14 a season ago, Lefevre will have a revamped roster of sorts. Six players were lost to graduation, but the Cougars return All-MSC performer (junior-to-be) Langdon Hatton and honorable mention (senior-to-be) Braden Jenkins.

"Going away to camp for four days, I got a chance to know them and they got a chance to know me," said Lefevre. "I like them. There are some kids that seem to have that attitude that they want to be good. You show and tell them what to do but they don't have the habits yet because they forget. When you have to think about the right thing, by the time you do it, it's too late."

Jenkins wasn't available for the summer after having a shoulder surgery. The actions of Jenkins on the sideline caught the eye of the new skipper.

"I've never seen Braden play, but he spent the whole summer at every workout," Lefevre said. "He went to camp and is engaged in everything that is going on. Most kids, when they are injured, they show up, but are just there. Braden was on the edge of the sideline telling people what to do, even though he's never done it. He's shown great leadership."

Jenkins was allowed to coach a game at camp, earning the win on the sideline.

"What we need is high-energy, aggressive and tough kids to set the example," said Lefevre. "Hopefully, Braden will be that. I've been around long enough and I get the impression Braden understands what needs to be done."

Outside of having good basketball habits, Lefevre said he expects players in Cougar blue and white to play hard. Citing one of his coaching inspirations –– former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan — he said 90 percent of your problems can be solved by working your butt off really hard. North Harrison players have also been given passages from books written by former Duke point guard Dick DeVenzio, another inspiration to Lefevre.

"It's been exciting and interesting," the coach said of the first month with the team. "You have to find kids that want to win just as bad as the coaches want to win. Is that going to happen here? I certainly hope so. If we are good, you will be saying they work really hard, they hustle, they talk loud and they play unselfish."

One thing Lefevre has noticed is how dedicated some North Harrison players are to basketball and they work on their own.

"That's a nice start," he said.

The coaching staff will have familiar faces as well. Greg Walters, who was the head coach at North Harrison from 2009-10 to 2013-14, returns as an assistant after serving in the same role at Floyd Central in recent seasons. Bart Bigham, the boys' and girls' tennis coach with experience coaching junior varsity hoops in the past at North Harrison, also returns.

"I can't do it alone," said Lefevre. "Having (Walters) was one of the reasons I took the job. He's really experienced and well known to be a good coach. He knows the community really well and can help me in that area. Bart Bigham worked with Greg and is going to be terrific too. I think the staff is looking really good. It has to be a group effort."

To win the first sectional at North Harrison since 1995-96, Lefevre said he isn't fond of expectations.

"My only expectations is I'm going to try really, really hard, and if the players try really, really hard, then we will get better," he said. "Then, the expectation is to be really, really good."

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