Ramstein's returning All-European Kendra Lenoir plans to pick up the pace
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — To Ramstein’s Kendra Lenoir, making last year’s All-Europe basketball team has put a target on her back.
“People just play on me harder,” Lenoir, a 5-foot-10 senior, said on Tuesday. “They want to score on me and stop me from scoring.”
Lenoir then smiled and added, “That’s good, actually.”
Good, because Lenoir, who averaged 9.3 points, eight rebounds and four steals per game as a junior, is going to return the favor regardless of the opponent.
“I’m still going to play hard all the time,” she said. “I’m still going to attack 110 percent.”
She gave evidence of that attitude in Ramstein’s opener Friday night, scoring 22 points against defending Division II champion Bitburg. It was the first step in Ramstein’s quest to regain a European title.
It’s that attitude that Corey Sullivan, coach of defending D-I champion Kaiserslautern, has been expecting of Lenoir.
“I saw Kendra develop as a basketball player last season,” he said. “She’s fundamentally sound. She has a deadly up-and-under move. She went to that all-star tournament in Brussels last year, and I think that really improved her game.”
However, the all-star event, a tournament against top European youth club teams, was just the tip of the iceberg in Lenoir’s offseason.
“I went to a Five-Star camp [in Maryland] this summer,” she said, adding that she managed to earn the “best defender” award against fast-paced, college-prospect talent. “I was in the gym all summer. In the fall, I practice with the base women’s team and play pick-up games against men. It makes you smarter and tougher.”
Lenoir, a member of Ramstein’s 2005 championship team, is playing for her third varsity coach in as many seasons, Kent Grosshuesch. It’s not as much of an unknown journey as one might imagine, however.
“Coach ‘G’ was my JV coach when I was a freshman,” she said. “He takes what we’ve been doing and puts a modern spin on it.”
“[Cissy] Grosselin was all about plays,” Lenoir said of the coach who led the Lady Royals to that 2005 title. “Everything had to done perfectly.”
Grosselin was succeeded last season by Kathy Kleha, who had coached both girls and boys and led the Lady Royals to the D-I title game against K-town.
“Kleha was old-school,” Lenoir summarized. “She stressed fundamentals.”
And Grosshuesch’s modern spin?
“He takes the old-school things and lets us work individual moves off them,” Lenoir said, “spin moves, more man-to-man. We also work on moving without the ball.”
Modern spin goes more smoothly with Lenoir and Ramstein’s talented cast.
“She’s the whole package, and we’ve got a good team around her,” Grosshuesch said. “She’s our team captain; the kids like her, too.”
Grosshuesch also has noticed the payoff for Lenoir’s work.
“She’s pretty quick,” he said, “and she’s really developed her shot this year.”
With all that work, does Lenoir have any time left over to gaze lovingly at that All-Europe plaque or contemplate a second one?
“Nah,” she said with a laugh. “My mother has that. I don’t think about All-Europe. I just want to play as well as I can.”