Peter Paul’s 29th season at the helm of the Benet girls basketball team also will be his last.
Though he will teach for one more year after this, Paul announced he intends to step down as coach at the end of this season, which begins with him needing four victories to reach 600 for his career.
“I think it’s time,” said Paul, whose career record is 596-250. “[600 wins] is a goal and I’m going to enjoy it and there’s no way I’m getting to the next [milestone]. Hopefully we will have a good year.”
That has been a given for Benet, which has routinely won 20 games or more under Paul. The Redwings graduated leading scorer Christen Prasse, now at St. Louis University, but return four starters from last year’s inexperienced team that went 20-10 and reached the regional finals.
“We’re going to be a year older and a year wiser,” Paul said. “We’re going to score some points. We’ve got to make sure the opposition doesn’t score more.”
The Redwings figure to be potent offensively both in their halfcourt sets and in transition thanks to guards Kathleen Doyle and Emily Eshoo and forward Emily Schramek, who all excelled in starting roles last winter.
Doyle, a 5-6 sophomore point guard, is a fierce competitor and whirling dervish on the court who is already drawing interest from college scouts.
“She’s going to have a great year for us,” Paul said. “She’s really a good defensive player.”
Doyle will have plenty of people to pass to as Eshoo, a 5-9 junior guard, and Schramek, a 6-0 junior forward, have proven they can light it up from three-point range. Schramek’s favorite shot is the baseline jumper and Eshoo likes to pull the trigger from the wings. They’ll be backed up by another good shooter in 5-8 sophomore Elise Stout.
Another weapon is 5-8 senior guard Eden Olson, a versatile athlete who will play lacrosse at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. She was hampered by injuries last season, but gives the Redwings tenacity at both ends of the floor.
Rounding out the starting lineup is 6-0 junior center Kendall McDermitt, a transfer from Yorkville.
“She’s got to get used to playing with us but she’s our biggest kid,” Paul said. “Size is going to be a problem for us. We don’t have any 6-4 kids.”
But Benet has plenty of good role players with experience, including junior Morgan Thomalla, who will back up Doyle, senior forward Grace Bumpus, senior guard Jenna Martin and junior forward Emma Hlavin.
While Paul doesn’t expect the Redwings to win the loaded East Suburban Catholic Conference, he sees the rugged schedule preparing his squad for a possibly long playoff run.
“Our goal is to play as well as we possibly can,” Paul said. “We’re going to be in every game that we shoot the ball well. The question is when we don’t shoot well, can we grind it out? Rebounding will be a challenge. But we feel good about ourselves.”