Bobcats off to fast starts
As the Basehor-Linwood boys and girls basketball teams entered the holiday break, they were light years ahead of where they were last year.
The Lady 'Cats shot out of the gate with a 4-1 start this year, a considerable improvement on last year's 3-3 pre-holiday record.
Coach Mardy Robinson said many reasons factor into their early success, but the largest component is teamwork.
"This group of girls has shown great teamwork and consistency," Robinson said. "They are playing well together. They know each other really well because they have been playing together for three years."
The nucleus of the team has played together before, but not with a lot of varsity experience. Four starters from last year's team graduated, so a question remained as to whether this team could bring that teamwork to the varsity level.
After five games, the answer is yes.
"I'm not surprised that this team has succeeded," Robinson said. "Before the season, there were some unknowns, but the talent was there."
Robinson also attributes the success of her team to its ability to handle the ball. In their four wins, the Bobcats stayed under double-digit turnovers for the game.
The lack of turnovers is even more impressive when one considers that this year's team runs more fast break than before.
Part of the reason the Bobcats can run and control the ball at the same time is point guard Alex Jeannin.
"Turnovers are not a problem with running because Alex makes good decisions," Robinson said. "Some of the turnovers she makes are because she's trying to force it, but she is not doing that much anymore."
While Jeannin helps make the transition offense click, Robinson said senior Aubrey Bittel has been the driving force during their win streak.
Bittel almost averages a double-double, with 14 points and 9 rebounds a game.
"She is taking control of games," Robinson said. "We are not rebounding well as a team, but she is getting nine rebounds a game."
The Bobcats will have to improve their rebounding quickly in 2003 as they face tough opponents in their first two games back from the break.
"We play Bonner Springs and Santa Fe Trail right when we get back, who are two of the better teams in the league. Win or lose, we need to play well to keep our confidence."
Boys need consistency
While Robinson has praised her team for its consistency, boys head coach Bruce Courtney said his team lacks consistency.
"We are doing quite a few things well," Courtney said. "We've shot well. I can't point out just one or two things we've done well or poorly, but mainly we need to work on our consistency."
The Bobcats' inconsistency is the main contributor to the team's turnover problem.
"We need to cut down on turnovers," Courtney said. "We need to make better decisions. We have the ability there, but we lose focus. When we settle down, we do awfully well. We just need to be consistent."
Despite consistency problems, Courtney knows this team is off to a much better start than last year.
The Bobcats entered this year's holiday break with a 2-3 record. Last year, they won two games the entire season.
"Overall, the start of the season is positive," he said. "We have more confidence. We're happy with where we are as a team, but we want to get better. We'll keep working to do that."
This team has reason to be happier because it is winning, and has had a chance to win games it lost. The Bobcats have lost close games and could easily have a record matching the girls.
Courtney said the biggest reason for the turnaround is the returning group of players. While they struggled last year, the lessons they learned are helping them this year.
"We have more experience," Courtney said. "Most of the people have experience from last year, so with the returning players we have some leadership."
With so many players with experience, each one is contributing to the team. Courtney said all of his players were doing things to help the team, so he could not choose just one player that has taken over the team.
"If you want to look at points, Brandon Dye is averaging around 20 points a game," Courtney said. "But other people have stepped up and are doing different things to help us. (Brian) Gripka has had good games.
"The guys down low are pulling in rebounds, Adam Smith, Garyn Gorup and Kyle Speichinger.
"John Grube is picking up assists, and Eric Laffere and Bronson Schaake are helping off the bench.
"I can go down the list."
As the boys prepare to begin play in 2003, they do so with an optimistic frame of mind.
"We have high expectations," Courtney said. "We have a team that can win any game, but we have do certain things to achieve that."