By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Rob Lado has enjoyed a smooth transition in taking over as the girls’ basketball coach at North Arlington High School.
“I think things have gone pretty well,” Lado said. “They’re adjusting well to a new routine and a new system. We’ve had nothing but a positive attitude. We’re improving every day and I think we’re going to have a good season.”
Lado introduced the Vikings to a faster paced, up-tempo style of play. “They’re catching on with my system,” said Lado, who was an assistant coach on the high school level and head coach on the AAU level before taking the North Arlington job this season. “They weren’t familiar with up-tempo play.
We want to get out on the fast break. We are going to be built on the pick and roll on offense. There are a lot of things I’m implementing that they’ve never done before. But they’re interested and asking questions.” Lado said that he has been helped by JV coach and assistant Karissa DePena, as well as Stephanie Sinclair, who was brought in to work with the program’s freshmen.
“The girls are all really working hard,” Lado said. “I’m encouraged.”
The Vikings have two seniors on the roster in 5-10 forward Brianna Cappuccino and 5-8 forward Samanta Quinones. Both saw limited action last year.
“Brianna is going to get solid minutes and help us with our rebounding,” Lado said. “Samanta is also good with rebounding, but she’s also defensively quick. She can go after the ball well. She’s doing all the dirty work.”
Junior point guard Denaijah Gainza will play a prominent role in Lado’s system.
“She’s a good ball handler,” Lado said of the 5-5 Gainza. “She also can be a big-time scorer. She’s a good shooter and will control a lot of what we do with the ball in her hands. She’s also a solid defender. I expect big things from her.”
Junior Marissa Piscal is a 5-9 forward with good skills.
“She’s our starting power forward,” Lado said. “She’s also a good offensive threat. She’s very strong and moves her feet well to get into good position on the floor. She’s going to be a solid player for us on both ends of the floor.”
Junior Samantha Veloso is a 5-9 forward.
“She’s also a very good athlete who has a nice little offensive touch,” Lado said.
Junior Theresa D’Errico is a 5-3 guard.
“We’re going to count on her defensively,” Lado said. “She’s not afraid of anything. She’s not afraid of mixing it up. She’s the fastest player on the team and she has a nice little shot.”
Junior Victoria Namnama is a 5-4 guard.
“She’s another great athlete who can get after it,” Lado said.
Sophomore Danica Krawczyk is a 5-7 forward who plays both the small forward and shooting guard roles.
“She has a very nice shot and is good defensively,” Lado said. “I’m going to count on her a lot.”
Sophomore Melissa Torres is a 5-7 versatile performer who can play a variety of positions.
“She’s a tremendous athlete, one of the best athletes we have,” Lado said. “She does a little bit of everything. She’s going to play a pretty important role.” Junior Mariah Moreno is a 5-3 guard who will also see playing time.
“She’s fearless and goes well to the basket,” Lado said. Lado likes the depth that he has with his team.
“Because we’re going to play up-tempo, we will have nine or 10 girls who will play,” Lado said. “I’m definitely happy with the turnout. We have a lot of girls who are interested in playing. They’re very energetic. They just have to get used to the up-tempo approach.”
The Vikings open up the 2014-15 season against St. Mary’s Dec. 19. They will also host the Ferguson Holiday Tournament Dec. 29-30, with local rivals Queen of Peace and Lyndhurst in the field, along with Trinity Christian. The Vikings will face nextdoor neighbor Golden Griffins in the opening round.
“I’m looking forward to at,” Lado said. “I think it’s going to be an interesting season.
” Sure looks that way.