19 November 2010

Girls Basketball: Veteran Tigers aiming high

Taylor Meyer
12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds/game in 09-10

For the past several years the Tiger roster has been practically void of upperclassmen. A glance at coach Jason Berg's 2010-11 squad tells a different story, however. The future is here.
"We have seven girls who played in the section championship game two years ago against Rochester John Marshall," Berg said. "For those seven, it is either their third or fourth year of varsity basketball."
Berg has 12 players returning who saw court time last winter, including a half dozen seniors: Elena Koch (forward); Jamie Kenealy (guard), Shelby Calhoun (guard); Jordan Bridges (forward); Sarah Silber (forward) and Jess Gaalswyk (forward).
Underclassmen returnees include juniors Taylor Meyer (guard); Isis Alexander (guard); Paige Steele (guard); Mariah Mincke (forward); Desi Loftus (forward) and Gabby White (forward).
Senior guards Brittney Brown and Alex Yauch could also compete for varsity playing time.
Meyer was an all-Missota Conference selection last winter, averaging 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a contest. Koch received all-Missota honorable mention, averaging 8.7 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds.
Height should be the Tigers friend. Bridges stands 6-2, Koch 6-0 and Meyer and Mincke 5-10.
Berg said he expects his team to be solid on defense and balanced on offense.
"We should be a very good defensive team with our height and length." he said. "We are changing our defensive system a little to try to put our players in better position. We are really going to force contested jumpers. We'll still press but it will be more situational.
"Last year we were inconsistent and struggled at times trying to score. The girls have spent a lot of time in the gym over the summer and that should help. We have five to seven players capable of scoring eight to 12 points a night. Players have to step up and hit shots."
With the veteran lineup, Berg and his staff are raising the expectations bar, taking aim at both conference and section honors.
"I think we have a legitimate chance to compete for both," he said. "We are experienced and for the first time have only juniors and seniors on the varsity.
"These players should know what it takes to compete in a very tough conference and more importantly how hard they need to practice each day to be prepared."
Berg said Red Wing and Shakopee should provide the biggest obstacles in the Missota while Owatonna and Rochester Mayo should both be in the mix in the Section 1AA race.
Berg also returns his high school coaching staff of Jon Graff and Joe McCarthy.
The Tigers open their 2010-11 campaign with a non-conference road contest, Tuesday, Nov. 30, at Section 1 rival Owatonna.