ISHPEMING - Kurt Corcoran knows replacing Westwood High School girls basketball coaching legend Tom Hammar won't be easy.
"Those are big shoes to fill," the first-year Patriots coach said. "He created a powerhouse of a program here and I'm honored to adopt his program.
"There will be a microscope on our program (though)."
Hammar was asked to resign his post by school officials after 29 years of coaching and a 397-250 career record.
Corcoran, 28, a 2002 WHS grad who played basketball with current Patriots' boys varsity coach Ryan Reichel for another Westwood coaching legend in Irv Dieterle (now retired), led the Patriots' junior varsity boys hoops team last season.
The Aspen Ridge seventh grade science/computers teacher has also coached that school's basketball team for two years, winning two conference titles in the process.
Nov. 30 - at Kingsford, 8 p.m.
Dec. 3 - Menominee, 8 p.m.
Dec. 6 - at Marquette, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 11 - Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 17 - Marquette, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 21 - at Manistique, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 - Houghton, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 14 - at Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 18 - at Negaunee, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 22 - Gwinn, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 24 - at Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 29 - Norway, 8 p.m.
Feb. 1 - at BR-Harris, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 - Iron Mountain, 8 p.m.
Feb. 7 - at Gladstone, 7:15 p.m.
Feb. 8 - Manistique, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12 - West Iron Co., 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 - Negaunee, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 19 - at Norway, 8 p.m.
Feb. 21 - at Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
A Mid-Peninsula Conference all-star his senior WHS season who averaged 11.9 points a game and played in the annual U.P. All-Star Basketball Classic, Corcoran inherits a team that went 9-12 last season, 5-7 in the M-PC.
WHS loses five seniors, including All-Upper Peninsula Class ABC First Team pick Megan Manninen.
"We're going to be inexperienced," Corcoran said of his 13-player roster, "but we have a core of very hard workers. We have three seniors with not much playing experience who are good people."
They are guards Alexis Forchinbi and Kara Harrington, as well as center Taryn Moyle. Another senior, guard Sarah Massie, played as a sophomore but missed last season with a knee injury.
Junior guard Caitlin Hewitt also saw some playing time in 2011-12.
Corcoran said he plans to to have sophomore forward-guard Katie Rankinen see some extensive playing time.
"I'm expecting big things from her," he said. "We'll go through some growing pains, but I see these girls rising to the occasion come tournament time."
He added his coaching style will "almost be a mirror" of Dieterle.
"We'll press and stress defense," Corcoran said. "We won't be fancy on the offensive side, but we'll stress fundamentals."
He's especially planning to have his Patriots play well defensively.
"Westwood basketball always means you have a good defensive team," he said. "We may struggle at putting the ball in the hole, but our goal will be to keep opponents at 40 points or less."
Corcoran will learn more about his team as it plays scrimmages against some peninsula teams before the season starts. But he's raring to go.
"It's very exciting," he said. "There hasn't been a new girls varsity basketball coach here in a long time. I love being the coach now and the face of the community."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.