Cobras women’s basketball start season strong
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 13:11
Despite losing their leading scorer from a year ago, the Cobras women's basketball team is still poised to make a run at nationals. Head coach Karrie Redeker's club, which consists of nine freshman and four sophomores, is currently on a six game win streak. Their start to the season has been quite impressive and a couple of early tests have proven to be quite useful.
The Cobras have started the season 6-1 and are currently ranked 15 in the polls. Their one loss was at the hands of Olney Central College in the season opener. This was an eye opener and could have been potentially damaging. Instead of it being detrimental to the team, Redeker used it as a teaching point. The head coach cites the reason for the loss. "Defense was the problem for us against Olney. Since we couldn't get stops on defense, we couldn't get our transition game going, and that hurt us," she said.
Their defense has improved dramatically since that loss and plays a big role in the current six game win streak. Since giving up 80 points to Olney Central College in the opener, the Cobras have only allowed 54.7 points per game to opponents. Only Waubonsee Community College scored over 60 points during this run during an overtime victory for the women's basketball team. Redeker gives all the credit to the players for bouncing back."Our kids understand improvement will be a progression, but that we need to bring effort every day and the willingness to get better," she said. This philosophy seems to have been absorbed, as each performance is as impressive as the one before it.
A huge component of this early success is the freshmen, who make up a large percentage of this year's team. It is impossible to predict how freshmen will react to the college game, especially when they must play an important role immediately. The speed, physicality, and basketball IQ needed are at a far higher level than in high school. Redeker feels that her freshmen are coming along nicely. "They are getting used to the speed and pace of the games, which is hard to simulate in practice," Redeker said. One freshman that has acclimated nicely is Lindsay Lenon. She and Jeni Free are the two Cobras to average double figures in scoring. They will need Lenon's contributions as well as those of the entire freshman class while they become accustomed to Redeker's system and the college game.
Performing well at home will be the focus if the Cobras want to continue this streak. They were dominant in their first two home games of the season, winning both games by double digits. One of those wins came against in-state rival and current 9th ranked Illinois Valley Community College. The twenty point demolishing of the Eagles was easily the best effort of the year by this team. "Our kids were excited to play at home and we talked before the game about the importance of trying to develop a reputation of being a ‘tough at home' team," Redeker said. Tough they were and tough they will have to be as seven of the next nine games are on their home floor, including a rematch with Olney Central College.
With so much success early, it is easy to begin comparisons. Their record so far this season is the same as it was by this point for the 2010-11 club, who finished the season 34-3. The quick assessment would be to say they are on pace to match or shatter that record as they are building from last year's team. Redeker makes it clear that this is a new year, by saying "We have so many new players and junior college rosters change so much from year to year that I think it would be unfair to say we are picking up where we left off from last season." She goes on to say, "We are trying to find our own identity and players are trying to establish roles, so I think that is what our focus is right now." From the look of things, this team and this program are taking on the identity of winners.
The Cobras' next three games will be at Parkland. They look to build off of early success and possibly make a run at nationals. As of now though, as Redeker will tell you, the focus is one game at a time. Come show your support and help cheer them to victory against Lake Land College this Friday at 2 p.m.