Carson High didn't have to travel far to replace Todd Ackerman - 18 inches to be exact.
The Senators have hired Ackerman's top assistant, Nathan Tolbert, as their new varsity girls coach.
Tolbert is no stranger to area basketball. He was head coach at Whittell for five years, taking the school to the playoffs every year. Whittell was third in the state in 2005.
Tolbert didn't apply for the job the first time Ackerman resigned. With family and work obligations, he wasn't sure he would have time to be the head coach.
"Well I talked to my wife, Christi, and she pointed out that I was already putting a bunch of time in so why wouldn't I want to be the head coach," Tolbert said. "I looked at the time it would take, and Todd said he would help out with scouting reports which takes a lot of extra time. If he's able to do that, it's going to work out."
And, Ackerman believes that his former assistant will do just fine.
"He knows the game," Ackerman said. "He was at Whittell and took a team to state one year. The girls like him."
Tolbert said he's eagerly looking forward to the first day of tryouts on Nov. 10. He'll inherit four returners from last year - Cameron Sievers, Maddi Saarem, Savannah Smith and Elena Thurman. Smith will start at point guard, a spot she held down at times last year.
Carson had a 15-14 record a year ago, including 11-5 in conference play. Obviously Tolbert would like to do as well if not better.
"My goal for this team is for us to come out and have them thinking we can win every game," Tolbert said. "They had the attitude some time that they didn't think they could win. The last playoff game (against Reed) we didn't think we could win. We got beat by 30 and I don't think they were 30 points better than us.
"Our goal is to win the games we should win," Tolbert said. "Last year we dropped some games we could have won."
Carson has never been blessed with a lot of size, and this year is no exception. Sievers and Saarem are both expected to contribute heavily in the frontcourt. Saarem is more of a power or small forward, but has had to play inside because of her size. Sievers is more of a post player.
"We do have some talent coming up, but I'm not sure they are ready for the varsity level," Tolbert said. "Cameron has been working hard in the off-season. She isn't super tall, but she works hard. Maddi has always played in the post. She's athletic and that compensates for her height."
Tolbert said that he's already working on a new offense for this year. Carson's defense will hinge on match-ups more than anything else
"We're going to use the athleticism we have," Tolbert said. "I prefer to play man-to-man. It allows us to be more physical and force the other team into turnovers. Hopefully we'll be able to play whatever defense we need to do.
"It's all about buying in. If you don't buy into playing zone, you're not going to go as hard."