In his last five to seven years as head basketball coach at Germantown, Steve Showalter was used to turning around before home games to see an overflowing and energetic crowd behind him.
And he was used to winning a vast majority of those games, too.
It wasn't quite that way for Showalter's first home game in his new post at Menomonee Falls on Dec. 9, but he said the crowd was enthusiastic and a big help, as the Indians stunned 2016 WIAA state tournament qualifier Marquette, 69-65, in their Greater Metro Conference opener.
"It was pretty full, and it was relatively loud," he said, "and it was good that we won, that we created a little excitement, because excitement draws people. The fans also seem to like our gritty, blue-collar work ethic."
What Showalter really liked as a coach was that the game was a vast turnaround from the Indians' first defeat of the year, a turnover-plagued 75-72 decision on the road to Watertown on Dec. 6.
"What we learned from that is that you can't turn it over 28 times and expect to win," he said. "The way we drill and the way we play, we (the coaches) have to accept some turnovers, but we still need to work on our fundamentals. We just fell apart at times against Watertown. Taking care of the ball, that's partly my fault and partly the way we play.
"But on Wednesday (Dec. 7), we got back to work, had a little bit of a 'Come-to-Jesus' moment. I told the kids you're not going to run. You're not going to get punished. We just lifted and watched a lot of film. We just tried to learn."
The result was a drop in turnovers against Marquette to just 12, and that was a big factor in the victory, Showalter said.
"We really don't have a go-to guy, so we have to take care of the ball and find the open man," he said.
The victory improved the Indians to 1-0 in GMC play and 3-1 overall. They will try to build on that momentum with a pair of GMC tilts this week. They took on West Allis Hale on Dec. 13 and then will host Brookfield East at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.
Showalter is trying to pick up the tendencies of the GMC teams quickly because all his previous experience was in the North Shore.
"I just have to figure some things out," he said.
The Marquette game was always a close one, with the Indians taking a 31-28 halftime advantage, as Falls battled some foul trouble. The game went a bit back and forth in the second half before juniors Payton Malone and Nate Schuster hit a pair of huge 3-pointers late off of a set plays.
After those shots, Falls had control for good.
"That was really cool," he said. "Those kids come off the bench. It was really nice to see other kids contributing."
The Indians, who were missing veteran senior guard Justin Gruber because of an ankle problem, were led by Schuster with 15 points, while Cross Wilson had 14, Malone 10, Jaden Champion 9 and Conner Allen 8.
Falls hit seven 3-pointers and was 16-of-26 from the foul line as opposed to 10-of-19 for the Hilltoppers.
"We could have been better at the foul line line, and we fouled too much," Showalter said. "We just need to do a better job of keeping our hands off people. But we'll watch film and get back to work."