Being a good defensive team involves more than just applying good ball pressure, getting into passing lanes and providing weak-side help.
That’s just the start. Teams still have to come up with a finish — the rebound.
As North Fond du Lac gets the ball rolling on the 2013-14 season, one of the biggest concerns for head coach Gary Kuehl is how his Orioles will fare on the boards and whether or not they will be able to hold their own against the better teams in the Flyway Conference.
“I think if we rebound consistently that will help us out on (the defensive) end. That’s the one key we’ve been stressing early and I think it’s going to be a continuous thing for us,” said Kuehl, who led North Fond du Lac to a 15-9 overall mark last season and third-place finish in the Flyway. “Defensively, we have to be able to rebound. We’re not going to stop teams from getting their shots but we can’t afford to give up second and third opportunities.”
Last season, a lot of the rebounding responsibilities fell on the shoulders of Nicole Seidl, a first-team all-conference selection.
But with her graduation, that means someone — or more correctly, some players — must pick up the slack.
“We’ve been trying to rebound as a team. We can’t get it done individually. We have to work together and hopefully in a team effort we can get that done on the defensive end,” Kuehl said. “On the offensive end, I see that improving but defensively we have to do it with all five people.”
Making the matters slightly more challenging is the fact that North Fond du Lac doesn’t list a lot of size on its roster.
Senior Kerianna Disterhaft is the Orioles’ tallest player at 5-feet, 10-inches, while North Fond du Lac has twice as many players listed shorter than 5-7 than taller.
“There will be nights where we shoot the ball really well and we’ll be able to get away with a little less defense and rebounding,” Kuehl said. “But to be in most of our games, I think the defensive end and defensive rebounding is key.”
Although the Orioles did lose Seidl to graduation, they do return a pair of players who received all-conference recognition last year in Brooke Scott and Sara Logterman.
Scott, a junior entering her third season on varsity, is the top returning scorer for North Fond du Lac after averaging 9.3 points per game last season and earning second-team honors. She has also reached double figures in the Orioles first two games of the season, including 18 points in a win this past Saturday over Green Bay West.
Logterman, an honorable mention all-conference honoree last year as a sophomore, averaged 8.3 points per game a year ago. Although the point guard has struggled to score in the Orioles first two games, Kuehl expects that to turn around and she will see her offensive production pick up.
“Sara has had a rough start but when crunch time comes, those will be the girls wsse will be looking to,” Kuehl said of Logterman and Scott. “They are definitely our go-to players and we need them to do a lot of things for us on the floor and off the floor each and every night.
Eight of the nine players on the North Fond du Lac roster are listed as guards which means there is no shortage of perimeter players who will be contributing for the Orioles.
In addition to Scott and Logterman, sophomore Bryanna Morris is back after playing as a freshman last year, while twin sisters Abbi and Billi Retzleff — along with Disterhaft the only seniors on the roster — also should provide a boost in the backcourt.
“We look for Bry to do some good things for us. She can step up and hit the 3 and she’s a little longer which will help on the defensive end,” Kuehl said. “The twins bring a lot of different things to the game. They have a lot of speed and they can both shoot.”
Two newcomers to the varsity squad will be juniors Janice Schwersinske and Crystal Lamb and both figure to be in the Orioles’ regular rotation.
The only non-guard on the roster is Disterhaft, a senior who played junior varsity last season, and Kuehl believes that she can step into a productive role this season.
“Hopefully she can help us with rebounds and maybe can provide a little bit of scoring, too,” Kuehl said. “As we get into the season, hopefully everyone can find their niche and we develop roles that make our team successful.”
Defending conference champion Kettle Moraine Lutheran and runner-up St. Mary’s Springs once again look to be at the top of Flyway Conference pecking order, with Omro stepping into the spot after those top two teams.
From there, though, the battle is on and Kuehl believes his Orioles will be right in that mix.
“The next three or four teams will be fighting for that fourth and fifth spot and I think we will be one of those teams,” Kuehl said. “Once we get through this early going, define our roles and start to develop as a team, I hope we can fall in the middle of the pack again.”