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INDIANAPOLIS -– Scott Kreiger understands this is no time for basketball complexity. Not with the annual Indiana-Kentucky battle set to resume.
“There's only so much you can get done,” he said. “There's only so much we can expect the kids to be able to do.”
As the head coach of the Indiana girls All-Star team, a reward for coaching the Canterbury girls program to Class A state titles in four of the past five years (including this past season), Kreiger has less than a week to turn 13 players from around the state into a cohesive squad capable of beating its Kentucky counterparts
“We put in an offensive continuity scheme that allows the kids to play different positions,” he said, “without being all that complicated. We have different openings or sets to get us into that continuity. By the time we're done, it will be the same offense all the way through.
“Defensively we're still sorting things out, but it won't be complicated there, either.”
The Indiana boys and girls teams began practicing Saturday at Marian University in Indianapolis. They'll either practice or play exhibitions every day until Friday's game against the Kentucky All-Stars at Louisville's Freedom Hall. They'll play again Saturday at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Indiana and Kentucky girls have split games in three of the last four years. Indiana swept the 2009 games. Indiana has a 40-32 overall series lead Kreiger wants to extend.
“There's a huge amount of pride in this,” he said. “To be selected as an All-Star, or as an All-Star coach, you want to put your best foot forward. You want to have good results.
“When you represent your state, community, family and friends, you want to play well. Our girls have worked hard. They get along well together. Their intentions are absolutely to win.”
They'll win with some Fort Wayne area firepower. Norwell's Jessica Rupright is Indiana's Miss Basketball after a senior season that included a 21.2-point scoring average. She's set to attend Miami of Ohio.
Also on the team is Snider's Akilah Sims. She averaged 21.3 points as a senior and has signed with IUPU-Indianapolis.
Practice numbers were a problem this weekend because of high school graduation. Rupright was a Sunday no-show because of a graduation conflict.
“We finished (the Sunday morning) workout with eight kids on the floor,” Kreiger said. “We had nine for the afternoon workout. It's a challenge trying to get everybody on the same page.”
The team's one-day mini camp eight days ago in Mount Vernon near Indianapolis helped, Kreiger said.
“That made a big difference. We spent about four hours in the gym. We put in our offensive sets. We showed some of our defensive philosophy thoughts, and talked about what we wanted to get done through the course of the week.”
Kreiger is limited in his Kentucky scouting opportunities. A Kentucky exhibition set for tonight was apparently cancelled. That leaves a Wednesday exhibition in Louisville. Kreiger said a coaching friend, Jefferson's Chad Gilbert, will scout the game.
“It's more about getting us ready,” Krieger said. “Those are the things we can control.
“Chad will help us. He has a player on our team (Lakin Roland), so he has a vested interest.
“That's about all you can do. I'm sure Kentucky will have someone watching our games.”
The boys and girls teams will play exhibitions tonight at Seymour against junior all-state squads. They'll play another Wednesday at Pendleton Heights.
The boys' all-star team is led by Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris and Indiana University signees Yodi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell and Ron Patterson, plus Purdue signee Ronnie Johnson.
The junior girls' squad includes three players from Fort Wayne –- Canterbury's Bailey Farley, Snider's Meredith Shipman and South Side's Ariana Simmons. Norwell coach Eric Thornton will coach the team.
The junior boys' team includes Northrop's Bryson Scott and New Haven's V.J. Beachem.
“I've talked with Eric,” Kreiger said. “He asked me what sorts of things do I want him to run. Defensively is there anything special I'd like him to have. He asks the same questions to get his kids prepared.
“You want to win (against the juniors). You have a sense of pride and bragging rights. But at the same time, we're trying to beat Kentucky.”