Lady Wildcats plan to run, run, run and run some more
By John Estridge, Sports Editor
When watching the Lady Wildcats play basketball this season look for two things: what kind of shoes they are wearing and when they tug at their jerseys.
First-year coach Joe Adams has his motto written on the white board: run, run, run and run some more. So, the shoes on their feet may be running shoes and not basketball shoes, and the tug on the jersey comes when the individual Wildcats need a breather because each of them will need a breather.
“The way I want to play is up and down so I told the girls 'you should get tired, and when you get tired, I'll sub you out,'” Adams said. “'I'll let you get a breath. And when they get tired, I'll sub you back in. I want you to play as hard as you can for five or six minutes. Then, I'm going to get you out and get you a breather and get you back in.'”
The Wildcats are playing without height. Their biggest player is 5-11. To see how they matchup with opponents, Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference opponent East Central has a front line, 6-2, 6-3 and 6-4.
“That's the other reason we have to run so much,” Adams said about the vertical challenge his team faces. “It's hard to score in the half court when your tallest girl is 5-11. So, we have a lot of guards who are quick and can push the ball.”
Having a running proponent to the arsenal makes FC the one team which is hard to prepare for because most other teams cannot imitate the speed and constant running of the Wildcat athletes, Adams said.
“That's really hard to prepare for,” Adams said. “If you don't run a lot in practice and you have us two days later, you can't get in shape in two days. A lot of conference teams don't want to play like that. We have to make them uncomfortable. I think that gives us the advantage.”
Running means running on both offense and defense. While the Wildcats may not play a full-court trap on the opponent's every possession that does not mean the pressure won't be put on from one end of the floor to the other.
“I want to make their guard as uncomfortable as possible,” Adams said. “So, even if we're not trapping (full court), I want to escort their guard up the floor. See if we can get some unforced errors and get some easy buckets. We need to get as many easy buckets as we can, because we don't have a lot of height. It's hard to manufacture a basket every time in the half court.
“So, that's why we want to press as much as we can,” he continued. “When you get a lot of easy buckets in full-court transition, it makes your half-court offense more efficient because they (opponents) are not seeing it every time. That makes it harder to defend.”
Defensively, the Wildcats will play a man defense except against teams who have very large front lines. Then, the Wildcats will play zone to force those teams into shooting from the outside.
And Adams' offensive philosophy is a player's dream: He wants his players to put up as many shots as possible. In the season-opener at Rising Sun on Friday, Nov. 2, the Wildcats collectively put up 59 shots in a 56-33 victory. Adams would like to see 65-70 shots per contest.
“We took 59 shots (against Rising Sun),” Adams said. “I've never told a girl not to shoot the ball. I'd rather say 'shoot the ball. And if it's not a good shot, then I'll tell you, but shoot the ball, because, it's better for you to shoot the ball and us have a chance to rebound it than you pass it and turn the ball over.'”
There are no players who have the star tag, Adams said. He expects some players to have high scores one game, and others to have high scores on other games. And he said the Wildcats are blessed with depth. As he plans to liberally substitute, he feels he is at least 10 deep.
“We're pretty deep,” Adams said. “That's the good thing. One through 10 we're pretty deep. We really don't lose a lot when we go to the bench. There's no drop off.”
Most of this season's roster played at least some varsity last season.
Returning seniors are: Jenna Orschell, Meredith Bohman, Megan Getz, Abby Orschell and Izzy Hoff.
Juniors returning include: Ashlin Hill, Laura Hildebrand, Karlie Hahn, Kairee Hodapp, Taylor McCreary and Grace Noble.
“None of them played key roles last year,” Adams said. “Now they have new roles where they have to step up and do stuff for us. I think they're ready.”
Adams said he and the team do not have season goals. Instead, they have daily goals.
“For me the biggest goal is: are we better today than yesterday?” Adams said. “That's my biggest team goal. You can make these goals: I want to win 15 games; I want to win conference. But what are you doing to get to those goals? You have to have goals on the way to getting to your goals.
“My biggest goal is: are we improving?” he continued. “Are we no longer making the mistakes we made in game 10 that we made in game one? In practice 40, are we moving the ball down the floor better than we did in practice one? That's the big goal for me: Are we improving?
“I think if you do that, the other goals will take care of themselves,” Adams said.
To get to the goals and to run the way Adams wants the Wildcats to run, one would envision practices full of line sprints and running until someone gets sick.
That's not the way of Adams' practices, he said.
“We haven't had anyone puke yet,” Adams said. “We don't do a lot of punished running. We don't do a lot of sprints. But we aren't standing around much. Everyone's always going because that's how we want to play. We go two hours. We don't go the old-time three-hour practices. I think that's a lot of wasted time. So, we get in; we work hard; and then, we're done.
“We work a ton on fundamentals,” he continued. “We work a ton on shooting. And we just get up and down. We work on our offense full court and we work on our defense full court. I think that's the best way to get in shape is by game-like action and making them harder than they would be in a game.
“We have this game we play we call 'the two-minute game,'” Adams said. “For two minutes it is five-on-five and you have 10 seconds to shoot the ball. If you don't shoot it in 10 seconds, it's a turnover and you're going the other way. It's like a track meet the entire time. Things like that are what's getting us into game shape.”
Jenna Orschell, Meredith Bohman, Megan Getz, Abby Orschell and Izzy Hoff.
Ashlin Hill, Laura Hildebrand, Karlie Hahn, Kairee Hodapp, Taylor McCreary and Grace Noble
Junior varsity roster
Grace Noble, Laura Hildebrand and Grace Wilson
Brenleigh Cloyd, Kloe Bolos, Rae Ertel and Makyah Richardson.
Alex Gillman and Jenna Bruns.