The Anatomy of a Winning Coach

“The hardest part is the fact that everyone wants to knock you off, but that’s also the
good part. … We had the deepest bench in the state.”

gPrep Q&A With Head Eagle Shannon Hartinger



Starting this Sunday gPrep will spotlight the masterminds behind Minnesota’s state championship teams from all four classes. Meet the top girls high school basketball coaches in a revealing one-on-one. All survived March Madness to take home a 2008 state title. Gain insight into their winning strategies, team preparedness and determination to repeat. The road to the Target Center kicks off with the first jump ball of the 2008-09 regular season. gPrep introduces you to Totino-Grace Head Coach, 3A State Champion Shannon Hartinger.

gPrep: What’s the hardest part about being a defending state champion?… the easiest?

Coach Hartinger: The hardest part is the fact that everyone wants to knock you off but that's also the good part. You know everyone is going to play their hardest against you. That's what will keep us sharp this season. The only easy thing about it is that if we make the trip to state again this year, everyone has been there and they know what to expect.

gPrep: What will it take to repeat in March?


Coach Hartinger: It will take focus, terrific defense, team unity and a commitment to the cause. I think we will be there.

gPrep: Talk about the components of a championship team.

Coach Hartinger: Unselfishness and terrific defense was our ticket. We had the deepest bench in the state. We had players that could get it done, in many combinations, every night. We also had the fewest points allowed of all the state tournament teams. We made a commitment to playing good defense all year and it payed off.

gPrep: Who is your toughest team to play??

Coach Hartinger: I think it changes every year but we always know we're going to get a good game out of Benilde in conference play. We are excited to play Cretin this season and we hope to re-match DeLaSalle in the state tournament again.

gPrep: What’s the single most important skill/talent a team needs to get to the Target Center in March?

Coach Hartinger: Defense.

gPrep: Describe the “perfect” team?


Totino-Grace Eagles

Lauren Palkert
Erin Daugherty
Emily King
Kaeli Kraska
Theresa Cassidy
Libby Norris
Jackie Meyer
Veronica Scott
Caroline Haik
Rachel Lukasik
Jenny Dillon
Lizzi Naumann
Sasha McHale

Keyana Mirbaghri
Allison McKee
Jessie Meyer
Erin Quinn
Lauren Soukup
Sam Laventure

Coach Shannon Hartinger

Assistant Coaches:
Dave Theisen
Greg Granlund
Bill Essma
Shelli Streeper
Manager: Cat Cleary

Coach Hartinger: The 2007-2008 Totino-Grace was the most unselfish, cohesive group of ladies I have every been a part of (playing with or coaching). They loved being around each other and practicing and being successful. They were always truly happy for each's others recognition while everyone put the team first.

gPrep: Describe the “total” player?

Coach Hartinger: The total player can play great man-to-man defense and help side. Good at trapping and anticipating. Great on the boards and loose balls. Knows where they are on the court. Good shot. Great attitude. Unselfish.

gPrep: How many have you coached?

Coach Hartinger: Geez, I feel like I coached 9 of them last year. They are hard to come by but I also think you don't need that many "total players" if you have enough"almost total players" who know how to utilize and maximize each other's strengths. I'm not big on creating superstars. I like creating teams.

gPrep: Is there pressure on you to win again?

Coach Hartinger: I don't think so because we lost so many seniors last year. I think people might think "we're done" but those are the ones we'll take by surprise!

gPrep: What’s the best basketball advice you’ve ever been given?

Coach Hartinger: Good question. I have had so many mentors tell me so many helpful things. I think all of it in summary is "do what you feel is right, whether it is popular or not, and believe in yourself and your team."

gPrep: Who’s your mentor?

Coach Hartinger: Coach Steve Reiter from Blaine. I played for him in high school. His program is run so well and all us players want to go back and still be a part of it. That is a sign of success.





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