Total team effort to be key to success for Lindbergh girls’ basketball squad

By ROBERT CHALUPNY

For the Call

Winning the consolation game and taking fifth place in the Jim Salsman Memorial (Fox) Tournament was not exactly how the Lindbergh High School girls’ basketball team wanted to start the 2011-2012 season, but the Flyers since have turned a corner.

After losing the opening game in the tournament to Rosati-Kain 48-31, also their season opener, the Flyers tallied wins over Fox 49-40 and Jennings 58-44.

Lindbergh is now 2-2 after suffering a lopsided 61-31 loss to No. 3-ranked Kirkwood. The Flyers ended their season last year with a loss to Kirkwood in the semifinals and Kirkwood went on to win the district title.

Lindbergh head coach Bill Thoele, who is entering his 22nd year holding the reins, said that he was optimistic about improvements he has seen since the opener.

“The first game … we weren’t in the right spots and we were just totally out of control,” he said. “And it was a really frustrating game for me as a coach because I thought we were looking pretty good at practice.

“But we got rid of that game and then we came back and played a lot better the second game, and the third game against Jennings we played even better. So we improved each game. We had nowhere else to go but up. Our offense improved and also our defense improved, too.”

The Flyers have just a few players returning from last year’s 17-9 team but Thoele is optimistic about the challenges ahead.

“I know we’ve got a lot of people to replace from last year and I know you’ve got to look at each team and try to develop what their strengths are … We were a little better shooting team last year — a little quicker,” Thoele said. “This year, we’ve got to have a more balanced scoring attack.

“We don’t really have that one player that we can go to for a basket when we need it. So we might have somebody else step up every night, but we need to play as a group. We need to work together defensively as a team and this has to be a true team effort this year for us to be successful,” the coach added.

Thoele told the Call that it could be a season-long process, but by the end he expects to field a pretty competitive team on the court.

Thoele will be looking for leadership from his two returning starters from last year — Alison Ries and Angela Black, returning point guards — as well as sophomores Lindsey Bozdeck and Frannie Shillato.

Defense and speed are two skill sets the Lindbergh coach identified as weapons for this year’s squad.

“I think the strength is going to have to be our team quickness and our team speed, and just play really good defense …,” Thoele said. “We still want to press most of the game. We want to run the ball in transition because I just don’t think that if we play a half-court game we are going to do that well. We need to get points in transition either both offensively and defensively.”

While winning is important in any sport, it’s not everything, according to Thoele.

“These girls are working really hard and they know they are going to have to play together as a group,” the Lindbergh coach said. “… I tell them every day this isn’t life and death — just try, have no regrets tomorrow …

“This is high school basketball. You’re supposed to enjoy it and 10 years from now you’re not going to remember you won this many games, lost this many — you’re going to remember that was a fun time to be around some of your friends.”

The Flyers were set to take on Washington Monday night — after the Call went to press.