It's a strategy Fenwick head girls' basketball coach Dave Power has been eager to implement for the past few years, but he needed the right team.
With three starters returning to a team that advanced last season to the Elite Eight of the Class AA State tournament for the fifth time in six years, now, says Power, is the time.
"We're calling it the Friar-frenzy," said the coach who boasts two State titles (1986 with IHM; 2000 with Fenwick). "We're going to run and try to score quickly."
The Friars are going to be a fastbreak team, steered by tall, speedy, experienced and talented junior returners in Devereaux Peters (6-foot-2-inches), Alison Jackson (5-11) and Erin Power (5-11).
But these three aren't the only weapons in Fenwick's arsenal. The team also welcomes back Maggie Kloak (6-1), who spent last season getting back into form after suffering an ACL tear while playing lacrosse her sophomore year. Kloak, a lefty and the lone starting senior on this year's team, made the varsity squad her freshman year and played a pivotal part in that team's runner-up finish at State.
With Holly Harvey and Andrea DiCanio as guards, along with a deep bench, the Friars (33-3 last season) look poised to win their 12th straight East Suburban Catholic Conference title.
One of two missing components from last season's State team is Samantha Woods. The 6-foot-3-inch junior, who averaged seven points per game last season, transferred to Bolingbrook, but Power says his team has had ample time to fill her spot.
"These girls have been playing together in summer tournaments all year long, so they've played a lot of games without Sam. From what I've seen in recent practices they've already made the proper adjustments," said Power. "It's unfortunate that she left, but we wish her the best, and we move on."
With or without Woods and last year's leading scorer Brittanny Johnson, now at Boston College, Fenwick remains a formidable powerhouse. The twin towers of Peters and Jackson will no doubt give opponents fits. Peters averaged 12 points per game last season, while Jackson bucketed 10 per game. The duo combined to haul down 26 rebounds per game.
Power hinted that it wouldn't be wise for opponents to only key-in on Peters and Jackson.
"We don't have one star player or two star players on this team like we've had in the past. We've got five players on the court that can score 20 per game if they wanted to, but that's not what they're about. These are unselfish players that want to win," he said. "They're playing for the love of the game and they're playing to win. And that's what makes them tough."
Tough will be Fenwick's schedule this season, a recurring theme for the program. The Friars will play top teams from Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin, and participate in such perennial tournaments as the Dundee-Crown Holiday tournament, the Willowbrook Shootout and the Sweet 16.
Other players expected to contribute significantly this season include: Candace Russ, Miki Carter, Glennis Gallagher, Niki Ezem, Colleen Kelly, Bria Jodoin, Angela Righeimer and freshmen Colleen Forkin and Serafina Nuzzo.
The Friars open the season at home against Niles North on Nov. 18 (7:30 p.m.).