New Panther leader a patient pick

Published on: 12/9/2009

Good things come to those who wait. Those are words to which new Greendale boys basketball coach Ryan Fiet can attest.

The new coach has earned his job after more than a decade of coaching on the junior varsity and freshman level. After spending five years as the Panthers' junior varsity and assistant varsity coach, Fiet finally became varsity coach when Paul Krajewski retired last year.

It's been 11 years in the making for Fiet, but for Greendale it's been three decades. Fiet took over after Krajewski's 30-year reign ended and learned as much as he could while working for him.

"The biggest thing that I learned from coach Krajewski is just to do things with class," Fiet said. "He was well respected and he treated the kids fairly and honestly. I am just trying to be positive and upbeat with our players."

Being a part of the Greendale basketball program over the past five years made the transition smoother for Fiet's first-year campaign.

"Knowing all of the kids really helps a lot," Fiet said. "It's difficult to get them to do what will make them successful sometimes, but knowing them makes it easier."

Fiet hopes to use his own athletic career as guidance as a coach. He played varsity basketball for Wauwatosa West. Upon graduation, he played baseball for Carroll College and UW-Whitewater. An injury to his arm caused him to quit playing and got him into coaching.

The Panthers (2-1) opened their season with two straight wins against Hartford Union and St. Francis before dropping a decision to Pewaukee.

The first two games were nail biters, a pair of three-point victories. The game against Pewaukee was a different story. The Panthers were outscored by the Pirates, 32-11, in the first half en route to a 67-31 loss Friday.

"We were introduced to the varsity speed of the game against Pewaukee; they were just too fast for us," Fiet said. "It's not like they were faster physically, they were just too fast mentally for our players. We can take this game as a learning experience and just get better from it."

Despite the lopsided loss, the season has gone as expected for Fiet considering the Panthers' lack of experience.

"We have the least amount of experience in our conference right now. Even our seniors didn't play much more than six minutes a game last year," Fiet said. "This year our seniors and juniors are being thrown into key roles. That takes some adjusting to when they are used to coming off the bench as role players. You have to expect it to take a while before they are comfortable in their new roles."

Fiet understands that he can't be expected to bring Greendale a conference championship this season, but he is still going to expect good things from his team this year.

"I just want this team to be competitive in every game," he said. "I want to win games that we have a shot at winning."