Confident, Versatile Pioneers Now Focus On Teamwork

December 04, 1990|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff writer

Anyone stumbling into the middle of an Anne Arundel Community College women's basketball practice must wonder if the school is in need of new equipment.

Little dribbling occurs during certain drills. Ever try bouncing a flat ball?

"It constantly forces you to play team basketball because you can't put the ball on the floor," said first-year coach Tom Smith. "We'll pass it 10 times before you're allowed a shot. It gets them into movement without the ball and it gets them into playing together as a team."

That's just one of the methods Smith has used to ready Anne Arundel for tomorrow afternoon's season-opener at Prince George's Community College.

The Pioneers' first three games are on the road, with their home debut Dec.

15 against Essex Community College.

"We're looking forward to a good year," said Smith, who two years ago guided the Broadneck High girls to the Class 4A state championship. "We'll just take it one game at a time, concentrate on that game.

"I'll scout as many teams as I can and work hard in practice to go against their strengths. We'll look to develop each game as we go along, and by mid-season we'll be in good shape."

Smith is especially optimistic because the eight-player roster will expand during the second semester to include the lone returnee from last year's team.

Jennifer Berg, the Pioneers' leading scorer when the team went 14-13 under Ken Wolf, and Trudi Brooks will join the newcomers, allowing Smith to implement a pressure defense.

"When we get Trudi and Jen second semester, we'll be in constant pressure and I'll be running kids in and out, playing everybody," he said.

"If you carry 10 players and they all know they'll be able to contribute in some way, then they're going to be happy and come out here and work."

Brooks, a 1984 Andover graduate, will share point guard duties with Stacy Dent (South River).

"Nobody will be able to press us with her in there, she handles the ball so well," Smith said of the 5-foot-2 Brooks. "I can't cover her half the time when I'm out there, she's so quick."

Berg, a 5-foot-11 Chesapeake graduate, could work as many as three positions over the course of a game.

"I have a feeling she can play Division II and I," Smith said, "so I'm going to give her a chance to play three.

"We're going to run, but we want to run with intelligence. If we don't have the advantage, we want to pull off and set the offense. That will be easier to do with Jen out there. She has a lot more maturity and she knows how to control it more. She has a steady influence out there."

She also is an example of the versatility found on the Anne Arundel team this season. Smith said Meade graduate Nikki Beall could play anywhere from point guard to power forward, and Katie Laidley (Severna Park) will switch from the backcourt to frontcourt, depending on who else is in the game.

The Pioneers have inside strength as well, with Rhonda DeShaw (Andover), Kelly Horsley (Archbishop Spalding) and center Jennifer Rickard (Southern) -- all 5-foot-9 and solid rebounders.

Of Horsley, Smith said, "She scores well around the basket and does a pretty good job defending and denying the ball inside. She's physical and strong inside. She's going to be a big plus."

Smith believes 5-foot-6 Sarah Krucoff (Arundel) will prove an asset on both ends of the court.

"Sarah's a good shooter and she handles the ball adequately," he said.

"She's not real fast, but she does a good job because she thinks out there on the court. We'll be looking at her to put the ball up quite a bit.

"Defensively, she boxes out real well. (Arundel coach Lee) Rogers did a good job with her."

Amy Hercha (Glen Burnie), also 5-foot-6, will be used in "different places" off the bench.

"She's got good quickness, reads the court well and is smart. She's real scrappy," Smith said.

Although Smith didn't have the turnout he expected -- "There were some good girls here who decided not to play" -- he said, "I'm real happy with the kids we have."

"And it's not just the talent, it's the attitude," he said. "They're having fun while we're working and they're looking forward to a good season. We have some good ballplayers who can play.

"The main thing is me knowing what talent I have, what I expect from myself and what I expect from them and what we're up against. And as long as I see us growing, whether we're winning or losing won't bother me.

"But if I see we hit a plateau and we're just leveling off and not playing good basketball and not growing, then I'd be frustrated and a little upset. But I think we're going to do well."

So does Laidley, who came to Anne Arundel from a winning program at Severna Park. She sees similarities between the two teams, making her transition to the junior college level a relatively smooth one.

"They're both well rounded," she said. "At Severna Park everybody contributed, and it's the same here. There really wasn't a big difference coming here."

Horsley feels her game will improve with the added confidence instilled by Smith.

"He makes us all a part of the offense," she said. "Everything doesn't revolve around one person. We'll all contribute to every play we run.

There's a shot for everyone.

"I think we'll do really well. We all have good attitudes. That's one good thing about the team: We never get down."

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