Lady Olympians are sticking with the plan
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe girls basketball team members are, front row, from left, Robbyn Loyd, Alexys Naranjo, Cat Condly, Alissa Rusbarsky and Ciara Miranda. Middle row, Brittany Doughty, Autumn Cope, Ilse Hassler, Brooke Cope and Briea Bush. Back row, Kaitlyn Ohl, Paisley Williams, Danielle Becker, Gabbie Becker, Nikki Ennis and Rebecca Cressman.
Jim Thorpe's girls' basketball head coach Rob Kovac must have heard voices in his head while the number of his team's victories were dropping from 21 just two years ago to only one win last season.
The voices were saying, "Be patient and keep with the plan."
And Kovac, in his seventh season mentoring the Lady Olympians, is listening.
"We need experience and this year we have everyone back, so the more games we play the more practice we will get with the skills that are utilized in a basketball game."
Kovac is not talking about X's and O's or offensive and defensive strategies.
"Last season we got ahead of ourselves in trying to plot game strategy when we needed to step back and focus primarily on fundamentals," the coach said. "And that's what we are doing again this year. Pass the ball. Catch the ball. Move without the ball."
Thorpe will rely on a core of seniors from whom Kovac will expect to see improved play. Seniors Nikki Ennis (G), Cat Condly (F), Danielle Becker (C), and Alyssa Rusbarsky (G/F) should see significant playing time as the season begins.
"Last season we were getting better, but after an injury or two, we derailed at the end," says Kovac. " We were incredibly young and immature in a basketball sense. Then the wheels fell off the bus, so to speak."
The Olympians will employ a mixture of offensive sets and at times will "go small" as Kovac says where there will be three or even four guards on the floor at one time. They will need to not only cut down on their number of turnovers, but, in turn, create them as well.
"We will pressure the ball and we will try to get the ball inside to Ennis and Becker," he says.
The rest of the roster includes junior forward Gabby Binder who missed all of last year with a torn ACL, junior guard Brittany Doughty, sophomores Rebecca Cressman (G), and Brea Bush (G/F). Freshmen Kaitlin Ohl (F) and Alexis Naranjo (G) are also expected to see varsity action.
Defensively Thorpe will adjust to the game opponent. They will play 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones with some match up zone to defend an opponent's best shooter. Kovac still needs to see if his team is athletic enough to play man to man.
"We are also looking for somebody to step up and become a consistent scorer because that's what we lacked last year," Kovac said. "We need a take charge ball handler too and a strong rebounder. We have a solid core of players and overall depth at each position so it will truly be a team effort."
Kovac would like to see his Olympians get better and finish the season much improved from last year.
"Of course, like everyone else, we would like to make the playoffs, but we have to play well in every game and then the wins will take care of themselves."
In the big picture, JT's two year rebuilding may get a significant upgrade next year as the current group of eighth graders have been undefeated for the past two seasons.
"The pieces are coming together," says Kovac. "In the very near future we expect to have our program back to where we want it to be."