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.
PHOTO COURTESY STEPHEN CARRERA/LOYOLA UNIVERSITY
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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 programs 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. Shes 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. Its something new and different in life and its been awesome.
Smith has gone through the normal adjustments college freshmen have to.
Its been an adjustment with school, said the 5-foot-8 Smith, who is studying psychology. Theres longer classes and more studying. But I have great teammates and great coaches. Its second semester now so Im on top of things. Basketball was definitely an adjustment from high school. The game is faster and the players are bigger and stronger. Ive been working hard and putting in a lot of time in the weight room. Ive 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 everyones 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 thats starting to come. I just want to be the best player I can be and Im really glad to be here.
As is Schrader, who admittedly is still seeking her niche.
Its been good being back in Chicago, said Schrader, who has taken up residence in Evanston. Im a Midwest girl. I wanted to try the east coast and Im glad I did but its great being back in Chicago and being around family.
Schrader, according to Ramblers head coach Eric Simpson, is responsible for about one-third of Loyolas 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.
Were excited to have her on board, Simpson said. Shes really impacted our program in a number of ways. Shell still get out there and lace em up and its 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. Shes really helped us prepare. Im really impressed with her basketball IQ. Shes also getting out and seeing players were interested in and shes 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 its 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 doesnt reflect the talent we have, she said. Its a growing process and right now were a completely different team than we started with. Were starting to play good basketball.
Smiths game has changed as well. The go-to scorer in high school, shes now playing more of an offensive support role and concentrating on defense.
My defense has gotten much better, she said. Ive been able to focus on not just having to score. I have to work for everything because Im 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. Shes 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. Shes been really good in transition for us and its nice to see her getting more playing time and more opportunity. Shes 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.
Shes 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. Shes a great coach and a great person and I really like being around her.
Schrader agrees with Simpson concerning Smiths potential for the future.
I remember when I was coaching camps and she came in and dominated the camp, Schrader said. I think shes got a load of talent that hasnt been revealed yet. College is not high school and shes just starting to get it and roll with it and thats great. Shes done a real good job of transitioning.
As has Schrader, but her future is still an open book.
Im taking it day-by-day right now, said Schrader. who has an internship in governance with the Big Ten on her resume as well. Ive learned to do that these last two years. Its amazing how things change in this profession. Its amazing how many coaching jobs are open every year.
Im keeping all my doors open, Im starting to figure myself out what I like and what I dont like and what I can be great at.
And for now, Eric Simpson is just happy hes got Becca Smith and Lindsay Schrader wearing Loyola maroon and gold.