FREMONT – It’s an easy assumption to make.
Juan Vela certainly understands it.
The Fremont Ross girls basketball team, which begins the 2019-20 season Friday hosting Clyde at 7:30, not only returns just one starter, but that one starter is also the only returning varsity letter-winner from last season.
And given that starter/letter-winner is junior Brooklyn Baptista, who has averaged more than 10 points per game through her freshman and sophomore seasons, those on the outside looking in at the Lady Giants may presume this season may become the Brooklyn Show.
Though she’ll certainly be a vital piece of the puzzle, Vela insists Baptista is only that: A piece. And a team has many pieces.
“It’s a team sport, I’m not a big believer in it being a one-person show,” Vela said. “Someone has to rebound, someone has to defend, someone has to communicate, someone has to sprint back down. There is so many different things that happen in a game that matter, so it’s not going to be the Brooklyn Show.
“Brooklyn is going to be our leader and she has the experience. At times, it will land on her and the ball is going to be in her hands, and she can shoot it – but I would say she’s a passer first. I think it’s going to be cool to see younger girls step up and accomplish things that, maybe, they didn’t think they could.”
The Lady Giants are coming off a 10-13 season a year ago, but gone are a host of familiar faces, including Olivia Baptista, Rachel Gore, Marissa Overmyer and Jasannah Sabiers. Their presences will be filled by a pair of first-year varsity seniors, Sarah Widman and Mekhia Williams, and junior Aries Freeman who, with Baptista, will be the team’s only upper-classmen.
Vela will be carrying a pair of sophomores, Makenna Englund and Hannah Sheidler, and two freshmen, Mylah Williams and Janiah Holmes. With a varsity roster of only eight girls, Vela is expecting contributions from everyone.
“Not one person can do it – I can’t do it – we all have to do it,” Vela said. “We all have to come together and do our part and make things happen. …Everybody is going to have to play a role and play it to the best of their ability.”
Whereas last year, Ross played a slower-tempo game, using a lot of man-to-man and zone half-court defenses. Vela expects the Lady Giants to show a different look this season.
“So far, our identity has been an up-and-down type of team,” Vela said. “We spread the floor, we play, we pressure, create turnovers, create layups and pressure again. So, it’s totally opposite of what we had last year. This year, I think we want more possessions and take a lot more shots. I think that’s the type of team we have.”
While the Lady Giants will be a starkly different team in 2019-20 than from recent years, Vela is excited to see what this new squad can accomplish.
“I think this group can be competitive because they’re aggressive they have a knack for the ball, they all play basketball throughout the year, so they understand basketball,” Vela said.
“I expect to compete and surprise some people.”