Despite its 16-7 overall record, last year’s senior-deficient Roncalli girls basketball team still had some growing pains.
But with nine players returning — including four seniors — the Jets hope to have gotten that all out of their system in hopes of improving their record and once again competing for an Olympian Conference title.
“With the nine kids back from last year it allows us to go almost 10 deep on our rotation. Our depth is probably as good as it has been in quite a few years,” Roncalli coach Ned Jacquart said. “I think our depth is really something that is satisfying for us. We will be able to play through injuries and foul trouble and people will definitely step up to fill each other’s shoes.”
With Kaylee Suettinger as the only player not returning for Roncalli, the Jets were almost on the verge of being able to have four of its starters return. However, Kaley McDonnell will sit out the season with a medical issue, meaning three of the Jets’ starters will be back in seniors Catherine Taddy, Rachel Moczynski and Sophie Pitz. Taddy and Moczynski are each entering their third year as a varsity starter.
“Our experience is our strength. … Kaley being hurt will hurt us a little bit, but (Taddy, Moczynski and Pitz) know our system well and the juniors made great strides (in training camp),” Jacquart said. “Rachel has the chance to be an elite player if she remains consistent. She is an unbelievable athlete. Catherine is overall just experienced and comes from a basketball family. We will rely heavily on (Taddy, Moczynski and Pitz) early in the season to bring our young players along.”
One of those young players is freshman Alexandria Cliff, who Jacquart said will give the Jets a dimension to their offense that it hasn’t has in a while — a physical inside presence. At 5-feet-10-inches, Cliff is the tallest player for Roncalli.
“(Cliff) is a strong kid and will improve our rebounding, which has always been an issue for us,” Jacquart said. “We will be bigger, stronger inside and she will be a good combination with our nice guard play and will compliment our senior guards really well.”
Jacquart also hopes that Cliff’s inside presence will also allow the team to overcome its struggles from last season when its offense at times became inconsistent. With a guard-oriented offense, Jacquart said last year’s team turned the ball over too much and, as a result, improving ball handling has been an early focus since the start of training camp.
With the additions and corrections, Jacquart is hoping his team can live up to the hype of its selection as the preseason choice by WisSports.net to finish second in the OC. However, Jacquart said the team is more-so focused on getting better every day.
“We are trying to stay pretty focused on the day-to-day stuff. … We believe we should finish near the top of the (OC), and if things go well, we think we have a chance to compete for a conference title, and that’s what we will work for,” Jacquart said. “That’s not our main focus, but that will be in the back of our minds and drive us from the day to day and week to week. … We will have a good year and I love this group of kids. They are a great bunch of kids.”