Rose Hill topped 60 points three times last season not because of a lack of ability or players who couldn’t score consistently. The Rockets’ physical style lent itself to grind-it-out games that stayed close and low-scoring.
New coach Steve Siemens doesn’t want an emphasis taken off defense or Rose Hill’s physical advantage, but the Rockets’ new style could lead to increased output.
Rose Hill’s best players are perimeter-based. That could allow Rose Hill to quicken the pace, negating post deficiencies while continuing to rely on the aspects that bring success, such as shooting ability and pressure.
"The biggest challenge will be for the kids to understand and apply freedoms given in an attack style of offense," Siemens said. "We want to play fast while being disciplined not to turn the ball over."
Carrying out Siemens’ plans will be senior guards TJ Slade and Wyatt Clark, along with junior swingman Bret Waddell. Slade is the embodiment of the identity Rose Hill has cultivated, a football player not opposed to doing the dirty work.
Clark is similar to Slade and will see an expanded role. Waddell provides multiple skills, and he’ll be relied upon for perimeter shooting and for getting others involved in the offense.
Siemens recognizes the challenges of being a first-year coach with new ideas. But the Rockets’ best formula for winning might be a transition that includes those ideas and the hallmarks of previously successful teams.
The departure of Kayla Justice accounts for most of Rose Hill’s missing production going into this season. She averaged 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, giving the Rockets a reliable and versatile post presence.
Replacing her would be difficult enough, but Rose Hill also lost two of its next three top scorers and its second-best rebounder. The Rockets seem to have plenty of players capable of picking up the slack — they just have to prove it.
"I think finding consistent scorers will be our biggest issue this season," coach Jenny Page said. "We have several players that can score, we just need them to do it on a consistent basis."
The leading candidate for a scoring surge is Autumn Lipscomb, a junior who averaged 7.5 points last year. Lipscomb was inconsistent, though, scoring two or fewer points six times while notching double figures nine times, including three of the final four games.
Jessica Rushing and Kennedy Myers are also potentially capable scorers, and the responsibility of facilitating them falls on point guard Alia Khalidi.
Page said Khalidi has improved noticeably since the end of last season, another factor toward Rose Hill possibly finding scoring help. The Rockets, with no players taller than 5-foot-11, have a group of athletic sophomores that may push them toward being a perimeter- and transition-oriented team.
"I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to play a much more uptempo game than we did last season," Page said.