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Smith, Schrader enjoying first season at Loyola
By John Radtke | Daily Herald Columnist

Loyola University freshman Becca Smith of South Elgin is getting more and more playing time for the Ramblers, and cracked the starting lineup last weekend.



Lindsay Schrader


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Published: 1/22/2013 9:16 PM

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A year ago, Becca Smith was on her way to scoring more than 2,000 career points and leading the South Elgin girls basketball team to the program’s first regional championship. Lindsay Schrader had her first full-time coaching gig as an assistant at Longwood University in Richmond, Va.

Today, the two former Daily Herald all-area captains are wearing the same colors.

Smith is enjoying a productive freshman season at Loyola University where Schrader, the Bartlett and Notre Dame product who scored just shy of 4,000 points in her high school and college career, is now an assistant coach.

Funny how things happen sometimes.

Smith got her first collegiate start on Saturday against Wright State. She’s played in 10 of the Ramblers’ 16 games, mostly as a 2-guard, averaging 12.3 minutes per game and 3.3 points.

“I love it,” said Smith of Loyola. “I love being in the city. It’s something new and different in life and it’s been awesome.”

Smith has gone through the normal adjustments college freshmen have to.

“It’s been an adjustment with school,” said the 5-foot-8 Smith, who is studying psychology. “There’s longer classes and more studying. But I have great teammates and great coaches. It’s second semester now so I’m on top of things. Basketball was definitely an adjustment from high school. The game is faster and the players are bigger and stronger. I’ve been working hard and putting in a lot of time in the weight room. I’ve grown physically and mentally and I just want to contribute.

“I had to persevere not playing as much as I wanted to. I played every game in high school. On this team everyone’s good and everyone contributes. Not playing the minutes I want to stinks sometimes but I just have to play through it and get better and that’s starting to come. I just want to be the best player I can be and I’m really glad to be here.”

As is Schrader, who admittedly is still seeking her niche.

“It’s been good being back in Chicago,” said Schrader, who has taken up residence in Evanston. “I’m a Midwest girl. I wanted to try the east coast and I’m glad I did but it’s great being back in Chicago and being around family.”

Schrader, according to Ramblers’ head coach Eric Simpson, is responsible for about one-third of Loyola’s scouting. She coaches the post players and also does a lot of recruiting, not to mention getting on the floor and mixing it up a little in practice.

“We’re excited to have her on board,” Simpson said. “She’s really impacted our program in a number of ways. She’ll still get out there and lace ’em up and it’s certainly an asset to have her jump in and play in practice. She has a great mind for the game and she understands the game. She’s really helped us prepare. I’m really impressed with her basketball IQ. She’s also getting out and seeing players we’re interested in and she’s a great representative for the program and the university.”

Schrader sees the fruits of her labor when her players implement what she teaches.

“I get the most satisfaction when I see my girls succeed,” she said Monday just after landing in Minneapolis on a recruiting trip. “I love the teaching part and being able to pass along my experience, not just in basketball but in life and with decision making. Sometimes they have to be reminded it’s not only about basketball. They are student-athletes.”

Loyola is 6-10 on the season but Smith is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“Our record doesn’t reflect the talent we have,” she said. “It’s a growing process and right now we’re a completely different team than we started with. We’re starting to play good basketball.”

Smith’s game has changed as well. The go-to scorer in high school, she’s now playing more of an offensive support role and concentrating on defense.

“My defense has gotten much better,” she said. “I’ve been able to focus on not just having to score. I have to work for everything because I’m smaller but my defense has improved so much.”

Simpson says the sky is the limit for Smith.

“We were certainly excited when she chose Loyola and I think she has a great future ahead of her,” he said. “She’s done a tremendous job defensively. Her quickness on the perimeter and her ability to pressure the ball and play hard all the time has been great. She’s been really good in transition for us and it’s nice to see her getting more playing time and more opportunity. She’s very competitive. She really enjoys playing and competing.”

Schrader was no stranger to Smith, nor Smith to Schrader. Smith attended camps in Bartlett before she ever entered high school — camps that Schrader helped coach.

“She’s always been a role model,” said Smith of Schrader. “That whole Bartlett team (the 2005 Hawks’ Class AA state runner-up team) was great models to me. She’s a great coach and a great person and I really like being around her.”

Schrader agrees with Simpson concerning Smith’s potential for the future.

“I remember when I was coaching camps and she came in and dominated the camp,” Schrader said. “I think she’s got a load of talent that hasn’t been revealed yet. College is not high school and she’s just starting to get it and roll with it and that’s great. She’s done a real good job of transitioning.”

As has Schrader, but her future is still an open book.

“I’m taking it day-by-day right now,” said Schrader. who has an internship in governance with the Big Ten on her resume as well. “I’ve learned to do that these last two years. It’s amazing how things change in this profession. It’s amazing how many coaching jobs are open every year.

“I’m keeping all my doors open, I’m starting to figure myself out — what I like and what I don’t like and what I can be great at.”

And for now, Eric Simpson is just happy he’s got Becca Smith and Lindsay Schrader wearing Loyola maroon and gold.