Rachel Rentschler: Making the freshman adjustment
Adjustment has been the real name of the game for freshman forward Rachel Rentschler during the last few months. Rentschler, a high school All-American, came to The University of Texas from a small Texas private high school -- Fort Worth Christian HS -- and from a team where she was the superstar scorer. Now, not only is she becoming accustomed to attending one of the largest public universities in the nation, but she also is adjusting to a new coach and to a new role for the No. 22 ranked Longhorns.
“In high school I saw the same people every day,” noted the 6-2 rookie, who was selected as the eighth-best forward nationally by HoopGurlz.com and Rise Magazine as a high school senior. “We only had two hallways in my school! Going to class now at UT is just an amazing experience. It is a big change, but I really like the bigger environment.”
There was almost nothing Rentschler did not accomplish as a high school basketball player. Rachel lead her Fort Worth Christian team to three consecutive Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) 5A state titles and earned National Christian School Athletic Association First Team All-America honors her sophomore, junior and senior years.
A top 30 nationally-ranked player overall, Rentschler finished her high school career No. 6 in all-time Texas high school basketball scoring with 3,215 points. Unlike some new collegiate players, the prospect of not being the superstar when she walked onto the collegiate campus does not upset her.
“As a freshman, I plan on just trying to work on team ball and helping us get better and better under Coach G (Goestenkors),” said Rentschler, who plans to major in corporate communications. “I might not be a dominant scoring threat out on the floor, but whatever I can do to contribute to team wins is what I want to do.”
Texas assistant coach Gale Valley admires the speed with which Rentschler has grasped the new system.
“Rachel is a really quick learner,” said Valley, who has coached some of the very best young players in the country while serving as Goestenkors’ long-time assistant at Duke.
“That is good for any player, but especially for a freshman, so I really think she is going to help us this year,” Valley finished. “Rachel’s game is very versatile -- she can shoot from the outside and she also can post up, so that makes her very hard to defend. We’ve been really happy with how quickly she has learned things and been able to apply them to her game.”
That statement was proven true in the Longhorns’ first two exhibition games. Against Trinity, Rentschler played 19 minutes and added two points and seven rebounds. Against the Houston Jaguars, she kept Texas afloat in an offensively-slow first half with 11 first-half points on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor, including a three-pointer.
Rentschler’s positive approach to the game and her willingness to persevere has not gone unnoticed, either.
“I’ve been impressed with Rachel’s intensity,” stated assistant coach LaKale Malone. “It has improved every week. If we tell her we need to be more aggressive, the next time around she has already put that intensity into her game. Rachel has a really good attitude and has started to step it up. It is a big adjustment between the high school and the college game, but Rachel is really taking on the challenge and doing a good job with it.”
Rentschler’s early play has proved to be a big asset for the young Longhorn squad, as Goestenkors pointed out after the Houston Jaguars exhibition game.
“Rachel is playing well at the post, and it really opens things up for us at the ‘4’ when she’s playing like she is,” noted Goestenkors, a multi-National Coach of the Year honoree. “Most post players aren’t as comfortable going out and defending from the three-point line, and because of that, we think Rachel is going to get some open looks. And, she has the green light (to shoot), which is a compliment to her.”
Originally recruited and signed to a National Letter of Intent by former head coach Jody Conradt, Rachel has taken the new UT basketball system and her new coaching staff in stride.
“I’m really excited to play for Coach G,” said Rentschler. “It’s different than what I expected when I signed, but it’s good. All of the coaches are wonderful, although they can be really really intense! But because of that, I can see how much better we are getting with each practice. We all came here with the goal of winning championships, and I intend to do whatever I can, and take on whatever role they want me to, in order to accomplish that.”