News and analysis of the prep and college basketball scenes by the sports staff at The Beacon-News

February 2010 Archives

Weemer returns for Eastern celebration

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Road trip!

Waubonsie Valley coach Steve Weemer was making a mini-road trip, of sorts, Saturday morning when we talked about the upcoming postseason for Class 4A teams. Weemer, a native of Tuscola, was returning to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston for a ceremony honoring the program's All-Century Team.

"Not that Steve Weemer was even close to being a member of that team," the former Panther walk-on said with a chuckle.

Maybe not, but he was a member of the 1992 team that made it to the NCAA Tournament. And, during an eight-year stint as an assistant to his former coach Rich Samuels, he was there when Naperville's Henry Domercant and company made it to the Big Dance in 2001 by upsetting Austin Peay and going on to win the conference tournament.

"They're honoring those teams, too," said Weemer.

The late Jay Taylor of Aurora, who played at Eastern from 1986-89 and is the school's No. 2 all-time leading scorer is one of the 10 members on the All-Century Team. Other area players who will be honored include current Marmion Academy assistant coach Rick Robinson of Aurora and Newark's Dave Olson, who was a 3-point shooter on that 1992 team and Weemer's roommate.

Weemer? He originally went to Eureka College and played for two years before transferring to Eastern and walking on in Charleston.

Today's EIU team features senior T.J. Marion, a former Beacon News Player of the Year from West High.

On Campus with Nortwestern's Nick Fruendt: Part 1

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All season long we've been bringing you weekly dairies from Nick Fruendt, former Batavia star and now Northwestern sophomore guard. With this video series, we thought we'd bring Nick to you--live and in real life.

Here's the intro:

And here's Nick in class. Yes, the man does have a studious side (the rumor is true):



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A little football recruiting news this basketball season.

His goal before he graduated high school was to play Division 1 college football.

Now he can scratch that one off the list.

Waubonsie Valley WR/K Scott Kuehn has decided to play his college football at Illinois State.

"I feel like I can surprise some people at ISU," said Kuehn via text message last night. "It just felt like the right academic fit as well."

Kuehn said he will immediately compete for special teams spot, with a chance to play wide receiver later in the season. He hopes to kick for the Redbirds as well.

"Everybody I talked to on my visit said they think something special is going to happen with the football team and that impressed me," said Kuehn.

Illinois State is coming off a 6-5 season and plays in the Division 1-A Subdivision Missouri Valley Conference.

WWS sends injured player out in style

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Wednesday's home game win over West Aurora was Senior Night for Wheaton Warrenville South. And like all the area schools, the Tigers did a nice job of sending their senior players out in style with pre-game introductions that included their parents.

In this case, WWS had five seniors, although one of them, 6-6 Dan Hohenstein, hadn't played all season. The starting center on the team last year, Hohenstein tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a football playoff game. That didn't stop him from being a part of this year's team, however.

"He made it to every practice we had except when he had rehab sessions (following surgery)," said WWS coach Mike Healy. "I remember he was there even for the 6 a.m. practice we had on Christmas Eve. Unbelievable. He's a great kid and we wanted him to know we appreciate it."

Healy showed it by having Hohenstein dress for Wednesday's game and appear in the starting lineup. Hohenstein was on the floor but still isn't ready to play, so Healy made sure his team didn't contest the opening jump ball and arranged with the officials to call timeout after West Aurora gained possession, allowing him to substitute for Hohensee.

And later, as time ran down in the Tigers' 47-34 win, he called time and subbed Hohenstein back into the game so he could be on the floor as the regular season finale ended.

Classy.

Nick Fruendt.jpg

Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Batavia native and Northwestern guard Nick Fruendt. Nick offers up his unique perspective on the Wildcats season and life off-the-court:

LION TAMED

The toughest weeks in Big Ten season are the ones in which we lose both games. This past week was one where we could have won both games, but they just did not go our way. The first one was at home against Penn State. I'm sure you know that they were 0-11 in Big Ten play before coming to Evanston. But before they played us, they played Michigan State tough, which led to Coach Izzo of MSU to say that was the best winless team he had seen in a while. So we knew that we were in for a fight just like every other Big Ten game. Going into the game we really wanted to get off to a good start, and much of our focus in practice was on stopping their leading scorer, Taylor Battle. We only accomplished one of these keys. They scored on each of their first couple of possessions, and we didn't get off to the start that we wanted. However, we did manage to hold Battle in check, but the rest of their team picked up the slack. A key part of the game came later in the second half. Down 56-54, Jeremy had a 3 to put us ahead, but unfortunately it just didn't go down. Missed free throws and lack of activity in our zone held us down, and we lost the game. After a game like that, it's hard to accept it, but we just said that we have to move on and not give up. There was one play of the game that I liked a lot. We had the ball out of bounds underneath the hoop, and Coach Carmody was talking to Juice like he was coaching him; all of a sudden Juice ran for the open spot and he got a wide open look, but that one didn't go down either. It would have been perfect if it went in.

OFF DAY

We had an off day on Thursday, during which I spent about an hour filming "NU Cribs" with Jon Kerr, the reporter extraordinaire. Keep an eye out for that in the near future. Off days are really nice, but sometimes I get a little bored. I had a midterm on Friday, and I should have started studying earlier but I kept putting it off. The feeling that I should be studying instead of doing what I am annoys me, so I usually get it done sooner rather than later. But sometimes I still do procrastinate and I hate it when I do. Nevertheless, when we have an off day I realize how bored I would be if I didn't play hoops. I am sure that I would find other things to do and be a part of, but I feel so fortunate to be on a team at the highest level of college basketball. Every single day I get to do one of the most fun things there is, and that is play basketball. I remind myself of that a lot, especially when I am feeling a little tired or frustrated.

MADISON MADNESS

We knew that our game at Wisconsin on Sunday was huge, and so practice heading up to the game was pretty good. We did a lot of shooting stuff besides the normal scout and scrimmage parts of practice, which was fun. I always enjoy getting more shots up during practice. The only time that we could get a shoot around at Wisconsin was 6 AM on Sunday morning, but that is way too early so we didn't do that. Instead, we got more shots up at practice on Friday and Saturday, and then we also left for the arena a little earlier than normal so that we could shoot a little longer about two hours before the game. The game against Wisconsin was a tale of two halves. They are a team that always tries to be very physical and be the tougher team, but I think that we handled that well. The problem was that they barely missed any shots in the first half, and as a result we were down by 14 at half (43-29). We could have folded, but our guys fought back, and we almost came all the way back and won. We were so pumped on the bench that the referees came and told us that we had to stay down and not stand up as much. We barely fell short, but we gave a great effort. Wisconsin has to be one of the toughest places to play in the country. They have beaten Duke, Michigan State, and other superb teams there this year...I wish we could have pulled it out. I think that we are going to bounce back this week.

PAPER AND A MOVIE

One of the nights this week, I had to stay up pretty late writing a paper, but not as late as my roommate John Shurna. He pulled almost two all-nighters in one week. These usually happen due to papers, which is the reason I am more of a test guy than a paper guy. The whole week was full of schoolwork and basketball, so it was nice to go out to the movies on Friday night with Ariel. We went to see Shutter Island, the newest Scorcese-DiCaprio production, and it was excellent. I've heard that the book is even better, but I don't really have time for leisure reading these days. Maybe I would, but I choose leisure writing (this) instead. Ha-ha.

That's all I have for this week. Shout out to Mr. J...thanks for reading! Ha-ha. I saw your comment on one of my past entries. And also shout out to Keith (Hansel) for giving me interview advice. I had an interview for a summer internship on Wednesday. Hopefully I was able to land it. I'll be back in a week! Thanks.

-Nick Fruendt #15

Teah Gant.jpeg

Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Oswego native and Wisconsin senior guard Teah Gant. Teah offers up her unique perspective on the Badgers' season and life off-the-court:

SENIOR NIGHT COUNTDOWN

What's up fans? It's getting closer to the end for me, and my teammate Lin D'Alie sure doesn't hesitate to remind me of that. She's basically my personal count down calendar. There's only two games left in the conference season with the last being my senior night. It hasn't really hit me yet that Sunday will be my last game at the Kohl Center. I'm sure it will be a very special night me, my family, and everyone else who has followed my throughout the years. I've already been working on getting tickets from my teammates because I have lots of people who want to come and support me. When I started off as a freshman, I never actually thought this day would come. I've watched three years of my teammates going through the same process as I will be on Sunday. Although my senior night in high school was special, this day will bring a much different feeling. I will be inching closer to the last game of my career, a game that has consumed my life for longer than I can remember. I'm sure I'll touch more on this in my last blog for you guys, but hopefully we'll get the win on Sunday and finish the conference season off on a good note.

BUCKED AGAIN

For other basketball news, we unfortunately lost to Ohio State for the second time. The game was much closer this time around (we only lost by 5), but we still didn't play to our full potential. Although we did play extremely hard the entire game, our mental mistakes are what killed us. If you're playing against a top ten team like Ohio State, you have to have a perfect game. They were able to capitalize on our mistakes which eventually led to them winning the game. They've been at the top of the conference for as long as I've been at Wisconsin, and it would be nice to knock them off before I leave. We still have another chance to do this in the Big Ten tournament.

CREEPY MOVIE

Our second game of the week was against Michigan, and this time it was at their place. The trip to Michigan last year was definitely not a game that any one of us wanted to re-live. Let's just say we got beat by a little more than a lot, so this was our chance to redeem ourselves. The coaches decided that we would practice the day before in their arena and bypass an early morning shoot around on game day. Our practice time was cut a little short because the Michigan men's team had a game that night. We checked into the hotel around five and immediately went to dinner. The rest of the night was left as free time. Many people were glued to their books because the first round of exams are coming up. All of my exams aren't until March, so my room became the movie room. We decided to watch "The Fourth Kind", which probably wasn't a good idea to do right before bed. The movie wasn't scary, but it was very creepy.

WOLVERINE WIN

Now back to the game. I can really tell that we're a different team this year because we have not buckled under pressure. Michigan made a run at us late in the game to cut our double digit lead down to just four points, but we still managed to put them away in the end. I was a little under the weather for this game, but all my teammates stepped their game up to help me out. I want to give a special recognition to Anya Covington for playing an amazing game. She was a beast on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. I think she managed to bulldoze through their entire team including the big 6'6" girl they had. Good job Anya! Until next time...

-Teah Gant #13


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Gotta love this game

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The Neuqua Valley at Oswego East game Tuesday night showcased why we love this game of high school basketball.

There was, of course, star power and more to appreciate in the Wolves' 68-62 win.

Oswego East's Jay Harris poured in 38 points. His backcourt mate running the point, Wesley Brooks, added 19.

Harris, who appears to be a 6-1 wisp of a guard in warmups, defies unknowing defenders' expectations with his big-impact game that is highlighted by but not limited to his silky smooth jumpers from beyond the arc or drives to the basket.

This night, he made six of eight shots from the floor in the opening quarter. It included four 3-pointers for 16 points. In the second quarter he didn't score a point, but did grab five of his team-high seven rebounds and dish out three of his five assists.

In the third, he came out intent on taking the ball to the basket. Three times he drew fouls -- making five of six free throws -- and he added another 3-pointer.

And in the decisive fourth quarter, Harris bookended the first eight minutes with a 14-point quarter that included two more treys and four more free throws.

Brooks wisely will often defer to Harris, but finds his spots. He can slice through a zone defense with dribble penetration that would make the folks who sold those Ginsu knives on television proud.

And he, too, can make the 3-pointer, sinking three of his four for the night in that second quarter.

Last week in this space we named 6-2 senior forward Johnny Savu to lead our all-lunch pail team of guys who do the little things that can add up to victory without gaining much notoriety.

Again, he didn't disappoint, drawing a charge with his team trailing 55-53 in the fourth quarter. Neuqua's Kareem Amedu, who would finish with 25 points and eight rebounds, was driving down the lane. Savu stood his ground and was bowled over by the 6-5, 190-pounder.

In the final two minutes, Savu would pull down a key defensive rebound. He only had two all night.

Jones did his work earlier, spelling 6-4 Austin Keys who picked up two fouls in the first half and had to sit and a third early in the third quarter.

The Wildcats had built their largest lead of the game at 44-39 when Jones passed the ball back to Harris and set a screen, freeing him up for a 3-pointer that started the Wolves' comeback.

After a Sean Gant trey tied the game at 45, Jones took a charge to give his team possession and a chance at the lead, which they got when Harris sank a pair of free throws.

"I'm usually not a scorer, I'm more of a defender. That's my main focus," said Jones, who was giving up eight inches in defending Amedu. "I'd like to score more but with this team, it doesn't matter.

"With Amedu, I was just trying to stay in front of him. I was trying to focus on not using my arms but my feet. You do the best you can and hope and hope Austin or Johnny are there to help you."

Little wonder they're 21-4.

Kaneland backboard goes ka-boom

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Boom goes the dynamite. And down goes the rim.

Will a shattered glass backboard at Kaneland High School affect next week's Class 3A Regional? No.

In fact, Tuesday's frosh-soph game between Kaneland and Batavia was also unaffected.

Kaneland senior standout Dave Dudzinski brought down the house, in a manner of speaking, Monday night after the boys basketball practice. The 6-foot-9 Holy Cross University recruit stayed late along with a couple teammates and an assistant coach so he could practice for the IHSA Slam Dunk Contest. He's applied to participate in it during this year's state tournament in Peoria.

"It was a pretty simple one, just a reverse dunk," he said. "It's not like we were fooling around. It was one of the last ones I was gonna do. In fact, I had just said that it was one I could do if I was getting tired in the competition.

"I just hit the rim and everything came down. There was glass everywhere."

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Dudzinski hopes he and DeKalb's 6-10 Jordan Threloff can be the Western Sun Conference entries in the contest.

He left the rim on my desk with a note, said Kaneland varsity coach Brian Johnson.

Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke was called Monday night and immediately got in touch with Kirhofer's Sports to order a replacement.

"We stole one from the side of the gym and had it up in place this morning," she said Tuesday afternoon. "And the new one is supposed to be here by Friday."

She wasn't sure if the expense was covered by insurance or not.

"I haven't heard yet from my assistant superintendent for business," she said, then jokingly (we think) added, "Maybe we can take it out of (Dudzinski's) scholarship money."

Aurora Central Regional tickets

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Aurora Central Athletic Director Michael Armato has released ticket sale information for the Chargers' boys basketball playoff opener against Marmion.

The game will be played Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the ACC Class 3A Regional.

Tickets for ACC fans will go on sale Monday at 8 a.m. at the school. They will be limited to two per adult on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $4 each.

A limited number "day of game" tickets will be available at the door at 6:45 p.m.

Marmion Academy has also been given a limited number of tickets for distribution to their fans.

ACC school comes calling

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How productive it was remains to be seen, but it's apparent Virginia Tech University men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg is pretty good at multi-tasking.

Last week, Greenberg spent an off-day making a visit to Oswego East to watch senior guard Jay Harris practice. Afterward, he went to Marmion Academy to watch East Aurora junior guard Ryan Boatright play in the Tomcats' game against the Cadets.

Greenberg's Atlantic Coast Conference program apparently was recruiting Harris when the staff took note of Boatright when the two met on the court at the East Aurora Christmas Tournament. The Hokies haven't been an ACC powerhouse like North Carolina or Duke, but they've been pretty good under Greenberg.

He's in his seventh season at the school and his teams have made three NIT appearances and one NCAA Tournament appearance. He's had a winning record in five of six seasons and the team just moved into a new $21 million practice facility last season.

This is Greenberg's third stint as a college head coach. He spent six years at Long Beach State and seven at South Florida before coming to Virginia Tech. He has had just one losing season at each of his three head coaching stops.

So what is it like for local high school coaches when a college coach comes to practice on a recruiting trip?

"It depends on the coach," said Oswego East's Jason Buckley. "All the coaches we have had in have just wanted to see us go through our normal routine to see how Jay practices. Generally, they just sit and watch and speak with him afterwards.

"There really isn't a whole lot of fanfare associated with it. I don't call any special attention to them, but t he kids usually know a coach is there. I'll speak to the coach before and after practice as well. But, like I said, it's pretty low-key."

Wendell Jeffries said, "If (the visitors) have time, they usually will talk to the coaches before and after practice. During practice they just observe the practice.

"As far as the (recruit) is concerned, it depends if he is allowed to talk to the coach or not (if it's an NCAA-allowed contact period)."

ABOVE THE RIM--real time version

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As you make your way down the cranky stairs into the basement underneath the West Aurora gym, there is an atmosphere of authenticity.

Chipped paint lines the guard rails and walls, the metal doors make you feel you are about to enter an Army barracks. And if you are claustrophobic, you'd better stay clear of the locker room.

Sitting on a chair in the coaches room is Gordie Kerkman. He's striking a pose he's done hundreds of times over his 34 years as head coach of the Blackhawks--staring at a stat sheet after a game. But this night he's in a position he hasn't come accustomed to over the years.

Explaining how his team got blown out at home.

"We weren't aggressive tonight, we were getting killed on the boards," said Kerkman about his team's 76-49 loss to Glenbard East Saturday night. "I expect improvement in those areas unless they've given up. I won't know for sure until (this week)."

After watching the Blackhawks performance from a courtside seat, it's easy to understand Kerkman's exasperation.


The crowd was filled with school pride at tip off after five new members were inducted into the West Aurora Hall of Fame before the game. And when DJ Vaughn hit two quick 3's to give West a 6-2 advantage in the opening two minutes, the place was jumping like the old days.

But the Rams didn't care about respecting Blackhawks history; they have their own to make this season. They hit West like a tropical tsunami in September--putting on an exhibition of passing, shooting, defense and rebounding worthy of their undefeated conference record. The 27-point margin of victory did not paint a complete picture of their domination. The efficiency of their performance had Kerkman grasping for answers as to why his team was a willing accomplice.

"They (Glenbard East) play hard and they play smart," said Kerkman. "What did they have to prove tonight? They came out and took it to us. We couldn't run the floor with them. They play at a higher level than we do."

With just one regular season game left before the postseason, a reporter asked if it would be best to burn the game tapes. Is it possible any lesson can be learned after such a resounding defeat?

"When you play a team like that you should learn how good teams play, what they do to make things happen," said Kerkman. "Kids are fragile but they can also be very resilient. They can come back and play pretty good basketball again."

After 34 years, you know Kerkman believes what he says. But does his team?

Senior center Kyle Pilmer:

INSIDE THE BASELINE

Packing up his briefcase after the game, Neal Ormond has watched more West Aurora basketball games than anyone.

Asked about what he just witnessed broadcasting the game, his mood mirrored that of Kerkman's.

"In 34 years, I bet I can count on one hand the number teams I've felt about the way I do after (Saturday's) game. Totally frustrated," said Ormond who has been the voice of the Blackhawks for 46 years. "I keep having to remind myself that this is an outstanding Glenbard East team, they make you look bad. I think you have to put it aside and say this is not our real team.

Ormond called all 60 of the Blackhawks consecutive wins at home between 2001-2007. He remembers how during the streak, West Aurora had a decided advantage before every game.

"The kids felt invincible," said Ormond. "I think the fans have lost some of that intensity (today)."

When watching Glenbard East, you see a level of basketball from an opponent you would not have seen 12 years ago, when West Aurora joined the DuPage Valley Conference. Ormond credits Kerkman and the Blackhawks for setting a standard of excellence in the conference.

"(West Aurora) was the class of the conference when they joined," said Ormond. "Teams use the West model now with their off season schedule and their pressure defense. They elevated the level of play."

It's hard to muster up much energy when your team is getting throttled. A few of these Rowdies were doing their best Saturday night:

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Jay Harris, G, Oswego East

One of the cool things about covering high school sports is you can see greatness emerge right in front of your eyes. If you haven't been following Harris and the Wolves this season, you might want to start paying attention. Friday night against Plainfield East, the senior guard scored 44 points in Oswego East's 77-64 victory over the Bengals. Still uncommitted on a college, Harris could be a guy we see playing in the NCAA tournament in a few years.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Wow. Wow, that was an unbelievable performance," said Wolves head coach Jason Buckley told the Beacon's Tom Strong after watching Harris dominate the Bengals.

"I'm not sure what happened. It was a total breakdown to be honest," said Aurora Central Catholic head coach Nathan Drye after the Chargers got blown out by Wheaton Academy Saturday night 68-34, ending the Chargers hopes of winning a share of the Suburban Christian Gold Conference championship.

A LOOK AHEAD--GAMES OF THE WEEK

West Aurora at Wheaton Warrenville South, Wednesday. The burning question in this game: can the Blackhawks forget about Glenbard East? How they respond will go a long way in determining how far they advance in the postseason.

East Aurora at Proviso West, Wednesday. The Tomcats go out of conference for this midweek game. After Lake Park Friday, it's on to the postseason.

Marmion at Fenton, Thursday. With the Suburban Christian Blue Conference title out of reach, the Cadets get one more tune up before they open their regional against Aurora Central Catholic March 3rd.


PREGAME/HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT OF THE WEEK

Hands down the best band I've seen this year is West Aurora's. They sound better than some professional bands I've listened to recently in watering holes around Chicago. Very spirited performance Saturday night; wish we could say the same for the basketball team they were playing for:

The Blackhawks dance squad always rocks the house:


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West Aurora Gets Rammed

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It started out pretty well for West Aurora Saturday night--DJ Vaughn hit two 3-pointers and the Blackhawks jumped out to a 6-2 lead against mighty Glenbard East. But the referees insisted on playing the remaining 30 minutes left in the game. Over that time, the Rams showed why they are unbeaten in the DuPage Valley Conference, thumping West by the final score of 76-49. There hasn't been to many other nights like this one at the West Gym.

I caught up with Blackhawks center Kyle Pilmer after the devastation in a quiet West locker room:

Saturday Showdowns

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Plenty of good area games tonight, some of which have conference title implications. Here are 3 reasons to leave the house on a snowy Saturday:

1. St. Francis at Marmion. It's been a wild debut season in the Suburban Christian Conference. If you are a believer in momentum, consider this: the Cadets have won 5 of 6 since they erased a 13-point deficit in the final 4 minutes against Aurora Central Catholic January 23rd. If they beat St. Francis tonight, they get a share of the Conference Blue title.

2. Wheaton Academy at Aurora Central Catholic. Similar scenario as St. Francis-Marmion: If the Chargers can beat the powerful Warriors (23-2 on the season), they will have just one loss in the Suburban Christian Gold, same as Wheaton Academy. Aurora Central Catholic barely broke a sweat in rolling over Guerin 70-44 Friday night.

3. Glenbard East at West Aurora. You could say the Blackhawks have the mighty Rams right where they want them. Naperville North played Glenbard East to the final minutes Friday night before losing 73-69 on senior night for the Rams. Will tonight be an emotional letdown? Consider this: it'll be senior night for the Blackhawks and if they win, it will derail Glenbard East's undefeated run in the DuPage Valley Conference.

So, where will you be? Curled up on the couch watching the Olympics or out at one of these three gyms watching basketball?

If you can't get out, you can follow the West Aurora game on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/beaconhoop.


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ACC regional change a wise move

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Good idea.

Aurora Central Athletic Director Michael Armato took one look at the schedule for his school's IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Regional and knew a change needed to be made.

The original plan called for a Tuesday, March 2nd doubleheader featuring top seed Oswego playing the winner of a Monday matchup between Yorkville and IMSA, followed by No. 2 and 3 seeded rivals, Marmion Academy and host ACC.

"Oh my," said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable, thinking about the prospect of trying to cram a huge crowd into ACC's 1,000-seat gym.

"With those matchups, there was no way," said Armato. "We had to make some adjustments."

He got the IHSA to listen and they agreed to move the ACC-Marmion tilt to Wednesday, which will likely result in capacity crowds for both nights.

Details on ticket sales will be forthcoming. A limited number will be allotted to each school.

Nick Fruendt.jpg

Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Batavia native and Northwestern guard Nick Fruendt. Nick offers up his unique perspective on the Wildcats season and life off-the-court:

Hey everyone! I'm performing one of the most common acts of students across the globe with this entry: procrastination. I've been so busy that I totally forgot about writing this until...right now, Sunday night! But it's fine because we got a huge win today, and I'm looking forward to an exciting week.

AT THE MOVIES

This past week started off pretty well. We were riding a two game winning streak heading into our game on Tuesday against Iowa. Practice on Monday went pretty well, besides John dunking on me once, but we weren't really prepared for what was going to happen next. The huge snowstorm that hit our area moved practice from 3 PM to 7 AM on Tuesday so that we could leave for Iowa earlier. With practice in the morning, our guys could still go to class and then leave at 3 instead of practicing at 3 and leaving at 6. This wasn't the best news sleep-wise, but you have to expect at least one snowstorm like that here in the Chicago area per year. I wanted to go to sleep a little bit earlier because of the early practice, but John convinced me to watch Shawshank Redemption with him, so I ended up staying awake until past 1 AM. I decided to do it because both John and I had never seen the movie, which is rated #1 on IMDB. It didn't disappoint; I give it two thumbs up. Needless to say, I was very sleepy when I woke up at 6 after my 5 hour nap, but I snapped out of it in order to practice well. It reminded me of the spring and summer, when we have to get up early every weekday in order to lift or run. One thing that makes everyone get a little riled up in practice is when the defense cheats the plays. What happens is we will work on our offensive scheme and put a couple of wrinkles in, but the defense still knows the plays. When a defender "cheats the play," he anticipates where the ball is going or runs to the spot where the offensive player will be going, which makes it harder to run the play. I especially don't like this, so when I am on defense I try my best to play it honest.

BURN THE TAPES

I don't really want to talk about the Iowa game because it was pretty much just miserable. I don't know if we were thrown off because of the early practice the day before or some sniffles that were going around the team, we just did not compete like we know we can. The bus ride took almost 5 hours the day before. I will give props to Carver Arena; it is pretty cool and I like it. But the court-level loading area was under construction, and we had to enter the building at normal ground level, which at their arena is much higher up than the court. Last year I described it as the dungeon court, but it really is much nicer than a dungeon. What I am trying to say here is that for game day shootaround, we had to go down and up the stairs, which was a workout in itself. For the game, we got to take an elevator, but after the game I just climbed the stairs in order to blow off some steam. Everyone was very disappointed and upset after the game.

STICKY FINGER

Friday's practice for the Minnesota game on Sunday was a different tone. Our trainer, Lanny, told me that I played close to 50 minutes, because that is the amount of time that we scrimmaged. It was great because we just got to play. Sometimes after losses like that it is best to get right back on the court and play. Before practice, we got after it in the weight room. I have been limited in lifting because I have an injury called mallet finger on my left ring finger. During the Liberty game in November, I looked down at my finger and the end was just hanging there. What happened was the tendon attaching the last part of my finger to the rest of the finger became unattached from the bone, so my finger was just dangling and I couldn't really feel it. I wore a splint full time for 9 weeks, and now I only wear the splint while I play and sleep. My finger is getting some flexibility back, but it is still pretty stiff and I can't really grip the weights, or make a fist for that matter. The good news is that I can still do bench press, which is my favorite lift.

VALENTINE'S DAY COMEBACK

As for the Minnesota game, I am extremely happy that we won. The first 32 minutes of the game were still bad, but we managed to pull it together. I hope you got to see the game; it was sweet to be a part of! This week we play Penn State at home and Wisconsin on the road. I have a stats midterm and a history paper to write, so hopefully this gives me some good practice. I want to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone, and this week's shout out goes to my Valentine, Ariel. Until next time...

- Nick Fruendt #15


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During the Oswego Panthers' boys basketball team's run to the Class 3A state title game last year, girls coach Chad Pohlmann ran into his star guard Samiya Wright in DeKalb.

The girls were knocked out in the sectional final against Freeport, but Wright was already thinking ahead.

"I want that, I want that opportunity," Wright told her coach of a super-sectional contest.

"We were jealous but not in a bad way," Pohlmann said. "It definitely has given us some inspiration."

According to Pohlmann, that inspiration worked both ways last year. Boys coach Kevin Schnable said his boys watched the girls beat Rosary just before facing a favored Aurora Central Catholic boys team in their own regional championship, and it gave them a boost in feeling they can beat the Chargers.

"That conversation has been had between the two basketball coaches and between me and Samiya," Pohlmann said. "It definitely was really inspiring to watch them be able to make their run, play so solid and play without fear in the state tournament and it has given our girls motivation to try to do that."

ABOVE THE RIM--real time version

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It's been a season of challenges for East Aurora head coach Wendell Jeffries.

Injuries and academic issues at various points of the season to Ryan Boatright, Snoop Viser and Terrell Weathersby have forced the Tomcats to enter several games with his deck shorthanded of aces.

So, playing Friday night against powerhouse Neuqua Valley, Jeffries broke out one card he had yet to reveal: a red suit.

"I hadn't worn it all year and decided it was time to bring it out," said Jeffries.

While he looked sharp for the Comcast cameras--televising the game live--the fashion statement proved to be nothing more than cosmetic. It didn't help East Aurora slow down the Wildcats formidable threesome of Dwayne Evans, Rahjan Muhammad and Kareem Amedu, who combined for 48 points and 24 rebounds in the Wildcats 74-64 win Friday night.

My post game interview with Jeffries is here:

INSIDE THE BASELINE

If you walked into the Neuqua Valley gym Friday night, you would have noticed a few more lights that normal.

Those extra lights were from the crew at Comcast Sports Net, who was broadcasting the game. Former Bulls play-by-play man Tom Dore was calling the game, with Sarah Kustok handling sideline reporter duties.

I caught up with Kustok before the game and asked her if we can expect to see more prep game coverage on media giants such as Comcast.

"I think there is a huge market for high school sports," said Kustok, an Orland Park native who played basketball at DePaul. "We've found that people want to hear about high school sports. A lot of people in this area care about high school sports."

Although Neuqua Valley-East Aurora may not have the same audience on a Friday night that a Blackhawks-Red Wings game may bring, Kustok said her and the Comcast crew prepare for Boatright and Evans as they would for Kane and Toews.

"Whether it's high school, college or pro, my approach is the same," said Kustok. "We'll look up articles online, talk to the coaches. We want to tell the story of the schools."

This video gives you an idea of the type of production Comcast brought to the game:

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Ryan Boatright, G, East Aurora

I know he gets more coverage than even he wants, but there is reason we can't get enough of Ryan Boatright. Friday night was another example. Not having played or practiced much in a week, the 5'8" guard showed his competitive grit by dropping 27 points on the Wildcats, showing no signs his sprained right ankle was bothering him. When I spoke to him after the game, he told me he just wanted to go home and get some rest. Judging by his four-point performance Saturday night vs. Waubonsee Valley, he could have used some more to rest his tender ankle. Back-to-back games are commonplace in February. Fortunately for the Tomcats and Boatright, they have no more on the regular season schedule.

My postgame interview with Boatright:

HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT OF THE WEEK

Two sweet performances at the Neuqua-East Aurora game. I was reminded of Claire Daines in "Bring It On" when watching the Wildcats halftime cheer:

The Neuqua dance team brought a little spice to their performance:

RANDOM VIDEO OF THE WEEK

This is why I love my Flip Ultra...you never know what you might capture when the red light is on.
While hanging out with the East side crazies (who were less in numbers for the road game, but still loud enough to be heard) we almost had a TMZ moment. Terrell Owens in the house? Watch and find out:

This clip is more evidence of how people will do anything to get on TV. Not sure if these Neuqua dudes wanted to get face time on Comcast or get noticed by Sarah Kustok. You decide:


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Ryan Boatright Interview

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The BasketBlog caught up with East Aurora guard Ryan Boatright after the Tomcats loss to Neuqua Valley Friday night. Boatright had missed a few games with a sprained ankle. He looked pretty good against the Wildcats, dropping in 27 points, which included a killer crossover aka Chris Paul style. He also talked about his college recruiting, which now includes DePaul:


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East Aurora falls to Neuqua Valley

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The Tomcats fought hard, but in the end, the Wildcats had to much muscle inside: East Aurora loses 74-64 Friday night.

East coach Wendell Jeffries--wearing a very sharp red suit on this night--reacts to the loss and how Ryan Boatright played in his first game back from a bum ankle:


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The Class 4A boys hoops & Neuqua Valley Sectional pairings were just released - so did the IHSA get it right?

Should East Aurora have been sent to Plainfield East?
Should Oswego East & Batavia have been sent to Waubonsie?

the seeds are out...

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and as I said in this space yesterday, some teams are going to get screwed. The biggest determining factor will be how the IHSA determines the pairings - by seed, or strictly by geography.

The two teams that will be affected by that the most will be Glenbard East and Benet Academy.
Does the IHSA send Benet past Willowbrook to Geneva and give Glenbard East the "home" game, even though GE is closer to Geneva than the Redwings?

And what to do with Batavia and Geneva? By seed, Batavia should not go to Geneva (see below) - but do they screw the seeds in favor of geography?

If they go by seeds, Neuqua Valley is the top seed that gets the raw deal in terms of potential opponents (see Rick's blog re: Plainfield North).

And, if we go by seed, there is a chance the Tomcats and the Blackhawks could face each other in the Waubonsie regional...which would be a lot of fun.

Here are my predictions (going by seed) on the pairings and winners...

At Geneva
1. Glenbard East
8. WWS
12. Geneva
16. Wheaton North
17. DGN

Game 1: WN vs DGN
Game 2: Glen East vs.Wheaton North
Game 3: WWS vs. Geneva
Regional final: Glen East vs. WWS
Winner: Glenbard East

At Plainfield East
2. Neuqua Valley
5. Oswego East
9. BBrook
15. Plainfield North
19. Plainfield East

Game 1: Plainfield North vs. Plainfield East
Game 2: Neuqua Valley vs. Plainfield North
Game 3: Oswego East vs. Bolingbrook
Regional Final: Neuqua Valley vs. Oswego East
Winner: Oswego East

At Waubonsie Valley
4. Naperville North
7. EA
11. Naper Central
13. West
20. Waubonsie
22. West Chicago

Game 1:Waubonsie Valley vs. West Aurora
Game 2. Naperville Central vs. West Chicago
Game 3: Naperville North vs. West Aurora
Game 4: East Aurora vs. Naperville Central
Regional championship: Naperville North vs. East Aurora
Winner: Naperville North


At Willowbrook
5. Benet
6. DGS
11. Batavia
14. Glen. North
18. Willowbrook
21. Glenbard West

Game 1: Batavia vs. Glenbard West
Game 2: Glenbard North vs. Willowbrook
Game 3: Benet vs. Batavia
Game 4: DGS vs. Glenbard North
Regional championship: Benet vs. Downers South
Winner: Benet


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IHSA releases 3A, 4A playoff seeds

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The IHSA has posted the seeds for the boys Class 4A and 3A playoffs. Pairings for the various regionals won't be released until tomorrow morning, however.

In Class 4A, all Beacon-News area teams are in the 22-team Neuqua Valley Sectional. Top four seeds are 1. Glenbard East, 2. Neuqua Valley, 3. Benet Academy and 4. Naperville North.

Rounding out the top eight are 5. Oswego East, 6. Downers Grove South, 7. East Aurora and 8. Wheaton Warrenville South.

The remaining teams are: 9. Bolingbrook, 10. Naperville Central, 11. Geneva, 12. Batavia, 13. Wewst Aurora, 14. Glenbard North, 15. Plainfield North, 16. Wheaton North, 17. Downers Grove North, 18. Willowbrook, 19. Plainfield East, 10. Waubonsie Valley, 21. Glenbard West and 22. West Chicago.

If the IHSA tries to place the top eight, geographically, could we end up with the following for the top teams in each regional?
At Willowbrook: No. 1 Glenbard East and 8 Wheaton South;
At Waubonsie Valley: No. 2 Neuqua Valley and 7 East Aurora
At Plainfield East: No. 3 Benet Academy and 6 Downers Grove South, leaving
At Geneva: No. 4 Naperville North and 5 Oswego East.

How strong is this field, you ask? Keep in mind, Oswego East had to go to overtime to beat 15th seed Plainfield North in conferernce play a couple weeks ago. Plainfield Central, below them both in the Southwest Prairie Conference standings is seeded seventh in the Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional.

Also wonder what the likelihood is that Neuqua, East, West Aurora and Waubonsie Valley are all at Waubonsie Valley? Hmmmmm....

IN CLASS 3A, most of our area teams are at the Aurora Central Regional. It includes No. 1 Oswego, 2. Marmion Academy, 3. ACC, 4. Yorkville and 5. IMSA.
It's part of the Hampshire Sectional and includes the Kaneland Regional which features No. 1 DeKalb and No. 2 Kaneland. The other regionals with their top seeds are Rockford East (Freeport), and Woodstock North (Marian Central).
Those are the teams Kevin Schnable's Panthers will need to get past if they are to duplicate last year's magical run to Peoria.


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Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Oswego native and Wisconsin senior guard Teah Gant. Teah offers up her unique perspective on the Badgers' season and life off-the-court:

BOILING POINT

Hey fans! I'm writing you on the bus home from Purdue. I would have been nice to report that we won the game, but unfortunately we didn't pull it out. In my opinion, there were lots of questionable calls throughout the game, especially the last possession, but that's how life is sometimes. Our team played very hard the entire game, but we still have lots of things we can improve on. Purdue played a very aggressive zone defense, and our offense sputtered a little towards the end. This season I've really tried to step up my game on the offensive end. With me becoming more of an offensive threat, my teammates also have a better chance of scoring. For those who followed me in high school, you might find it weird that I have been struggling with my offensive production. Although I was the leading scorer for my high school team, the college game is much different because everyone came in just like me. For my first two years in college, I had teammates who took control of the scoring end of the game, but now being a senior I know I have to step my game up. It's actually not even about scoring points either. I've mainly been focusing on being a threat and making my defender guard me. This opens up several opportunities for both me and my teammates.

ICE BATH

We also had another game this week. The results of this game are more exciting so I decided to tell this story second. We beat Minnesota on Thursday night in a double overtime game. Yes, you read it right DOUBLE OVERTIME. I'm not sure how many of you have actually played in a collegiate game, but playing 40 minutes is tiring enough. I was still trying to recover two days after the game. My legs were so sore that I convinced myself to actually take an ice bath, and I never do that. That was only my second of the year. I can take a lot of things, but I'm just not a fan of being cold. This was a special occasion though because I knew I needed to be ready for the big game against Purdue. Hopefully we won't have to go into overtime in any more games this season.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

The Minnesota game was also very exciting because we have several players on the team who are from the area. We definitely had a solid fan section for this game. Each player gets four free tickets for each game to give to their family and friends. As you could imagine, everyone was fighting over tickets weeks before we were actually scheduled to play. The day before the game we were able to go to Alyssa Karel's house for a team dinner. This was a lot different than having dinner at the hotel. Everyone's family was able to attend, and the dinner was great. There were also lots of cookies, brownies, and other desserts which I'm sure our strength coach was not too excited to see. We even started a small game of charades with both the adults and players, although the adults just stuck to the guessing end of it. Overall, it was a fun trip and a great bonding experience for everyone.

Now we're 17-7 for the season and 7-6 in conference play. We're currently ranked third with five more games to go. I hope you continue to follow the rest of our season. Finally, I wanted to give a shout out to my high school teammate Andrea Grams. Thanks for coming to the game!

-Teah Gant #13


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Just a couple more days until the 4A seeds are announced, and this sectional remains the most interesting to watch in the state. Glenbard East and Neuqua Valley are clearly 1-2, but what happens after that?

Benet and Oswego East should go 3-4....should.

What about Naperville North with its 17 wins? They could easily lay claim to a 3 seed, which could bump Oswego East or Benet down...

How do you differentiate between 14 and 13-win teams Geneva, Downers South, Wheaton South, Bolingbrook, Batavia, East Aurora, Naperville Central?
That's a helluva lineup down to the 11th seed.

I tell you this - three of those top four seeds is going to get screwed.
First, Glenbard East could get sent to Geneva despite the fact Willowbrook is just a few miles away and would provide a "home court"-type presence. Why? Because if Benet gets the 3 seed, they're closer to Willowbrook than Geneva....

Unless the Redwings are the one pushed around as a 3 seed....that could happen as well.

Then this:
In the past, seeds 1-2 play in regional brackets that include just 5 teams.
That leaves seeds 3-4 playing in 6 team brackets.
What does that mean?
It means that in this sectional, seeds 4-11 can easily beat seeds 3-4.
Those other "top" seeds could see a 15-win team from an established conference in the regional semi.

Of course, the only way to solve this problem is to seed at least the supersectionals 1-44 and then go from there.

It'll never happen - but then again - we wouldn't be as fascinated with the seeding and pairings as we are now.


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Tri-, Tri-, Tri- again; Eagles' 3s off the mark

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The 3-point shot can be a great equalizer in basketball. Hit them with any semblance of regularity and a team can come back from a large deficit.

Miss them, as Aurora Christian learned Tuesday night in a non-conference game with Timothy Christian, and you get buried. Quickly.

The Eagles made 2 of 7 (29 percent) from beyond the arc in the opening quarter and led 12-10 after eight minutes of play. After that, it got ugly for the home team. ACS didn't make another trey in the game, going 0 of 7 in the second period, 0 of 4 in the third and 0 of 3 in the fourth.

That left them with a chilly 10 percent (2 of 21) for the game, which helps explain how they lost 65-28.

The Trojans had an 18-0 run over an eight-minute period spanning the first and second quarters. In that time, Aurora Christian was cold as ice.

"I think we missed 15 shots in a row at one stretch but I thought we had some good looks in that time," said ACS coach Steve Hanson. "To be honest, we were fortunate to be down only 11 (26-15) at the half."

Timothy Christian, on the other hand, went 0 for 5 from beyond the arc in the opening quarter but was 6 of 11 the rest of the way and finished the game 6 of 16 (38 percent).


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Threatening weather forces postponements

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A predicted snowstorm with high winds have put much of Tuesday's high school basketball schedule in jeopardy.

As of 1 p.m., Tuesday, the following boys basketball games had been postponed:
Kaneland at Marengo, rescheduled for Feb. 17
Lisle at Plano (makeup tentatively set for Wednesday)
Sandwich at Manteno
Genoa-Kingston at Indian Creek

Three other games, Geneva at Downers Grove North, Timothy Christian at Aurora Chistian and Oswego at Minooka are still scheduled to be played.

Kaneland's girls home game with Marengo has been postponed and rescheduled for Feb. 13th.

Nick Fruendt.jpg

Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Batavia native and Northwestern guard Nick Fruendt. Nick offers up his unique perspective on the Wildcats season and life off-the-court:

DOUBLE DIP

Winning weeks are much more fun than losing weeks! This week we played Michigan and Indiana, both at home, and we came away with two victories. Wins just make everything more fun. Heading into the Michigan game on Tuesday, we were a little down after seeing our conference record dip to 3-6, but we had a renewed focus. Our attitude was that if we are going to do something, we needed to make a move in the second half of the conference schedule, and now we are on our way to doing that. Our game against Michigan was called Hope for Haiti, so we wore some red armbands in pre game warm-ups for the cause. The fans also had some red, but the colors were still mostly purple. The thing I remember most from the Michigan game was the attitude that our team was playing with. We were winning in the single digits for most of the game, and then our lead just took off in the middle of the second half. Practice leading up to the Indiana game was very crisp. We spent a day working on making ourselves better, and then had the usual two days for Indiana preparation (a game which Northwestern won 78-61). I can't really tell you much interesting about these practices except that they were intense, which I think is a good thing at this point in the season. It's important to keep the competitive juices flowing, and we will only continue to improve if we do so.

TRAINING TABLE

After practice, we get to eat a meal, which is called training table. This is usually my dinner nowadays. There was a nice new addition to the buffet spread this week: chicken burgers. I had multiple of these on a couple of days. One night, the workers forgot to show up, so we didn't get to eat the meal, and I had to go back to the apartment and make a frozen pizza. Frozen pizzas are the bomb, but they can get old if you eat them all the time. Some of my other favorites in the apartment include toasted cinnamon raison bread, trail mix, and Oreos. Anyways, training table is nice because I don't have to make a meal for myself and it is ready right after practice.

CAMPUS DIVERSITY

I want to talk a little bit about the atmosphere at Northwestern. This University is the most diverse place that I have ever been in my life. In class, it's possible that there is at least one person from each continent in the class, no joke. There are different languages being spoken all the time. It's neat to be able to meet people from all over the globe, but sometimes I am just amazed at how diverse campus is. Sometimes I feel like the minority, so it's really just another amazing part of my experience here at Northwestern.

YOUTUBE FAVORITES

Here's an interesting stat that I read about today: A professor at Northwestern estimated that it's possible that the average student spends eight hours on the Internet per day! EIGHT! I think that is pretty crazy, and a little high, but it's also eye-opening about how much the computer is a part of college life these days. I would estimate that I spend an hour or two per day online, but definitely not eight. John and I have a couple of favorite YouTube videos that I want to share. Be sure to check out Benny the Bull on Jerry Springer, the Jenga world record disaster, or Prank Wars 7: the half court shot. These are all pretty funny, and I hope you can get a laugh out of watching them; I certainly did.

STUDENT FIRST

The schoolwork load is picking up as of late, so I have to spend more time studying than writing this super fun work. I am officially declared now as an economics major with a minor in business institutions, in case you were wondering. These classes are pretty challenging, but I think I am up for it.

I hope you enjoyed this read and the Super Bowl. You know, some people think that I look like Peyton Manning. What do you think? We play away at Iowa on Wednesday and home against Minnesota on Sunday, so be sure to check us out. Shout out to the Batavia boy's basketball team, I wish you luck the rest of the season. Until next time.

- Nick Fruendt #15


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Oswego's Andrew Ziemnik Hits 1,000 Point Mark

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Oswego Coach Kevin Schnable wouldn't trade Andrew Ziemnik for anyone.

"It's not just the points, it's the process behind the points," said Schnable. "It's how he competes, his passion, blue collar attitude. He's a double-double regular."

When you consistently put up doubles in points and rebounds, eventually it adds up to a pretty big number. Saturday night, while the senior forward was pouring in a team-high 31 points and 21 rebounds, he hit the 1,000 point mark.

The BasketBlog caught up with him the night before, fresh off a 67-64 loss at Plainfield Central. Ziemnik was noticeably frustrated as he was in foul trouble all night. You got the feeling he would have asked to keep the lights on in the gym if he could and played again right away:

To bad for Joliet Catholic. You saw Saturday night's performance coming.


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Oswego Suspended Players Back Today

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Two suspended players for the Oswego boy's basketball team will return to practice Monday after missing the Panthers weekend games against Plainfield Central and Joliet Catholic.

The Beacon BasketBlog has learned the players are senior guard Brandon Collier and freshman Elliot McGaughy. Head coach Kevin Schnable said the decision was his and the players were suspended Friday because "they did not meet the expectations of character of our program."

He had no further comment.

Oswego-Plainfield Central Post Game

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Tough, hard nosed battle at Plainfield Central Friday night. Oswego fell behind by as much as 11 in the 4th quarter, got it to 3 in the closing seconds. But they could not close, losing to the Wildcats 67-64. Ryan West led the Panthers with 16 points. Oswego coach Kevin Schnable after the game:

My wrap up from Plainfield:

Update: There was no time for the Panthers to stew over this one, and they got over it pretty quick. Ziemnik bounced back with huge game--31 points--and Oswego defeated Joliet Catholic Saturday night 67-57.


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heading into tonight's games (and with the Feb. 11 4A seeding meeting rapidly approaching) here is a quick rundown of the loaded Neuqua Sectional.
Regional hosts are bolded.
How do you think these teams will be split up?

Neuqua Valley 20-1
Glenbard East 19-1
Benet Academy 16-3
Oswego East 15-4
Naperville North 15-5
Wheaton Warrenville South 14-6
Batavia 13-5
Downers Grove South 13-7
Naperville Central 13-8
Geneva 13-8
East Aurora 12-7
Bolingbrook 12-7
Glenbard North 10-9
Plainfield North 9-9 (as of Jan. 29 - anyone know an updated record?)
West Aurora 8-11
Wheaton North 8-11
Downers Grove North 6-11
Willowbrook 7-14
Waubonsie Valley 5-15
West Chicago 3-18
Glenbard West 2-17
Plainfield East - anyone have a record for the 1st year varsity program?



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1A, 2A seeds released by IHSA

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Newark (17-2) grabbed the top spot in the six-team Serena Class 1A Regional Thursday afternoon when the Illinois High School Association released the seeding results for the Class 1A and 2A state basketball tournaments.

Joining the Norsemen at Serena will be (2) Ottawa Marquette, (3) Serena, (4) Somonauk, (5) Leland-Earlville Co-op and (6) Hinckley-Big Rock.

Curious, since Newark hammered Ottawa-Marquette 68-33 on its home court Jan. 11th but only beat Somonauk 60-55 four days later. Serena, which lost by 21 to Newark, hasn't played Somonauk yet.

Coaches no longer hold seeding meetings. The process is done on-line.

Here are the top two seeds at the other three regionals feeding into the Somonauk Sectional: 1. Chicago Hope Academy, 2. at Mooseheart; 1. Dwight, 2. at Gardner-South Wilmington; 1. at Westminster Christian, 2. Chicagoland Jewish.
Coaches send their ballots in online rather than meet as a group.

Indian Creek is the top seed at it's 1A Regional that feeds into the Hanover (River Ridge) Sectional. Little Ten rivals Paw Paw and Kirkland Hiawatha are Nos. 2-3.

The area's two Class 2A schools will both be playing at the Aurora Christian Regional, which feeds into the Plano Sectional.

Timothy Christian is No. 1 in the five-team field, followed by (2) Westmont, (3) Aurora Christian, (4) Lisle and (5) Plano.



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ComCast to feature Neuqua-East battle

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One week from tonight it will be "showtime" again for the East Aurora basketball team when the Tomcats travel to Naperville to meet one-loss Neuqua Valley for what likely will be a battle for the Upstate Eight Conference title.

The bright lights will be on as Comcast SportsNet brings its cameras to town to televise the game live at 7:30 p.m.

Tom Dore will handle play-by-play with former New Trier head coach Rick Malnati doing the analysis and Sarah Kustok providing sideline reports.

Coach Todd Sutton's Wildcats are led by 6-foot-5 forward Dwayne Evans, who has signed with Rick Majerus and St. Louis University. Neuqua is 20-1 and 5-0 in the league heading into tomorrow's UEC matchup at home with Elgin.

Coach Wendell Jeffries, of course, are led by touted junior point guard prospect Ryan Boatright. East, 12-7 overall and 5-0 in the league, plays Saturday at Larkin.
Both teams will then have six days to prepare. East will need it with Boatright recovering from a sprained ankle that forced him to miss last Friday's game at Elgin.

"He sprained it that Tuesday in practice," Jeffries said earlier this week. "We're hoping to get him back by Saturday for Larkin so he can get a game in before Neuqua Valley."



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More on the DePaul coaching search and the weekend high school scene. The debut of our V-Blog:

What do you think of the cherry cabinets in the background?


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Q and A: Aurora Head Coach James Lancaster

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For 16 seasons, James Lancaster has been the head coach of the Aurora Spartans men's basketball team. This season, the Spartans are 10-9 overall, with a 7-5 record in conference play. Recruiting is a hot topic this time of year, and the BasketBlog caught up with Lancaster recently and asked about how things work at the Division 3 level:

Are the rules different for Division 3 schools such as Aurora compared to Division 1?

We can talk to whomever we want. We aren't talking to same kids as the top programs. We are respectful of high school season but this time of year we are evaluating them by going out 3 nights a week. We're not pushing anyone for a decision, but we like to get them to come out for a game.

How early do you start looking at high school student-athletes?

We get 15 students to visit our campus before Oct.15 (of 2009). We've identified kids their junior year. You know, the Fox Valley is a rich area. We'd like to make hay in our back yard. (Assistant coach and former Aurora Central Catholic coach) Mark Lindo is on staff now. He's got relationships in this area.

How is the talent in the area this season?

Early on thought it was going to be thin year but there really are some good players. We have not seen drop off as there are quite a few late developers. Trend we are seeing are two-sport athletes.

You spent some time this summer with Kentucky coach John Calipari. He's a either you love him or hate him guy. What was that experience like?

(He's) as good as it gets. You meet him and he's such a pleasurable guy. You hear things but what do you do? it's not just him. The sad thing for me is the game is good enough where fans don't have to think we're number one all the time. It's greed that kills us.



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Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Oswego native and Wisconsin senior guard Teah Gant. Teah offers up her unique perspective on the Badgers' season and life off-the-court:

I'm back again for another update on my life as a student-athlete. For those of you who are wondering, the student in student-athlete definitely comes first in my book. I've actually been so busy with school that I almost forgot to write this blog for you this week! I believe we're in the third week of the semester now, and all of my group projects are in the beginning stages. This means lots of meetings on top of practice and making time for homework in other classes. I don't think the word busy can really explain how my life is right now.

"24" ADDICTION

Even after all the responsibilities I have to take care of every day, I still try to make time for myself to just relax. If not, I would be very stressed out all the time. And for those who really know me, a stressed out Teah is never a good thing. Besides sleeping, my favorite thing to do now is watch TV. Right now I'm hooked on the TV show 24. This means Monday nights from 8pm to 9pm I will not be able to be reached. This is a very serious event, and no one is allowed to talk unless it's a commercial. I usually watch TV to unwind after a long day, but watching 24 tends to amp me up again. I have the most action filled dreams the night after. My teammate Rae Lin and I used to stay glued to the TV watching previous seasons. We would stay up all night watching six plus hours at a time. It's not that bad anymore because I'm caught up on all the seasons now, but I'm pretty sure I'll re-watch some of them soon.

UPS AND DOWNS

As for basketball, we've had two more games since last week. We're now ranked 3rd in the conference behind Penn State and Ohio State. We had a big win on the road against Indiana, but lost an important game at home against Northwestern. The season is full of many ups and downs, but we have to make sure we stay level headed throughout the entire experience. This is the point in the season where teams either rise to the occasion or fold. For us, the Big Ten Championship is still in sight, and we're working hard everyday to achieve that goal.

PREGAME ROUTINE

Now I'm going to give you some insight on my game day routine. We always have a shoot around that morning to go through our opponent's out of bounds plays and get some extra shooting in before the game. Then, we eat our pregame meal four hours before the game. This usually consists of some sort of chicken, fish, potato, and other vegetables. After eating, I have to take a pregame nap. Others usually shower or listen to music, but sleeping is a priority for me so I have enough energy for the game. Then, I wake up about two hours before tip and get ready. This includes getting dressed and getting treatment in the training room. Since we eat a while before we play, I usually need something to hold me over. For every home game, I eat an orange in the training room. And because I don't like the smell of the orange on my hands, I use the purple medical gloves to peel and eat it. I know this sounds weird, but it's been my ritual for four years. I don't think I've missed one time. Finally, I go to the court an hour before the game to warm up.

Well that's it for this time. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

-Teah Gant #13

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Each and every week, the BasketBlog will be catching up with Batavia native and Northwestern guard Nick Fruendt. Nick offers up his unique perspective on the Wildcats season and life off-the-court:

IZZONE EXPERIENCE

Hey what's up this is Nick again. It was a frustrating week on the basketball court for the Wildcats, but it's time to start turning things around. Our first game of the week was at Minnesota on Tuesday, and we barely lost 65-61. Their arena, the barn, has a new floor and bench so it seemed much nicer than last year. It was a game that we could have easily won, but winning on the road in the Big Ten is very difficult. The second game of the week was at Michigan State on Saturday, and we fought well but lost by 9. Their student section, the Izzone, was pretty good, and they sang happy birthday to their coach after the game. Of course, we wanted to spoil it, but it just didn't happen. Before the game, not much of our team could say that we had lost there before, but that has changed now. Since the game was on the weekend, we took a bus to East Lansing. Needless to say, the four-hour ride on the way home isn't much fun. Before the trip, Davide Curletti and I made sure we made John Shurna really mad by beating him repeatedly in video games, and he took his anger out on the Spartans by dropping over 30 points. Good job John. The best thing about John is that no matter what happens in the game, he is still the same nice guy afterwards, so you really couldn't ask for a better teammate.

OLD FRIENDS

One of my friends from BHS, Kinzer Jennings, was in the Izzone, and I got to say hi before the game, or at least give a couple of acknowledgements from a distance. He is proof that the Wild Bunch of Batavia High School properly prepares our students to join elite student sections right away, as he is a freshman at MSU. This is a cool part of being in the Big Ten: I get to see some friends from high school that go to the schools we play. Last year at Minnesota, I saw Rachel Lafond, my prom date from junior year of high school (which also was the same day I committed to NU). I didn't see her this time around, but you get the idea. It's nice to see friends coming to the games and being a part of Big Ten basketball.

BUS TRIP

Practice was pretty fun this week. On Thursday, we scrimmaged for a full 40 minutes. I think I played alright, but I had 5 or 6 turnovers, which is a killer. If I want to have more chances, I need to stop turning the ball over and start controlling the game a little bit more. I am going to keep working hard so that I can improve as an individual and help the team improve as well. At the end of Thursday's practice, Coach Carmody told us that we were going to play another 40 on Friday, but he must have changed his mind because we didn't. Practice ended at around 5 after I crossed Juice up a couple of times and J Nash "got all ball" on one of my jump shots that was 10 feet short of the rim, and we showered up and ate before getting on the bus. "Inside Man" was the movie this time, but I did some work, took a little nap, and played some iPod Sudoku instead. My main Sudoku competition comes from this Northwestern student named Ariel. She thinks she's got game but I have beaten her in timed competitions many times. When we arrived at the hotel around 11:30 ET, we had a snack of fruit, chicken fingers, ravioli, and cookies, just like every road trip. Usually we have to be back in our own rooms at 11, but since we arrived after 11 we just went to our own rooms right after snack.

GAME DAY

Our wake up call was at 9:15 for 9:45 breakfast on game day. After breakfast, we had a quick film session and then went to shoot around at 11:15. When we got back from shoot around 1:00, Luka, aka Air Mirko because of his hops, decided it was nap time, so I played some PSP before taking a nap myself. Then pre-game meal was at 3, and we left for the 7 pm game at 5:15. Unfortunately, I did not get any studies in even though I have a midterm on Monday, but I was getting in zone for the game. I probably wouldn't have gotten much done anyways. That's pretty much how road trips go, except we fly to our destinations during the week so that we only miss one day of class instead of two. The charter planes are pretty nice, but some of my teammates (ahem, D Sizzle and DrewDrew) freak out if there is any turbulence. Our flight to NC State earlier this year was like a rollercoaster ride. I didn't mind too much, but a couple of times I had that Giant Drop feeling of my stomach falling out from under me like you get at Six Flags. It was quite interesting.

OK well that is it for now. Hopefully we can get back on the winning track this week with games at home against Michigan and Indiana. Let's get the Wild Side out in huge numbers so that we can have a big home court advantage! Shout out this week goes to my boy P West. Peter made the first club team ever at Dayton University this year. Great job man and keep ballin' out. I hope everyone has a great week. Until next time

-Nick Fruendt, #15

Who should DePaul hire? Burno has ideas

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From 1998-2002, Marmion head coach Rashon Burno was a point guard for DePaul University. At that time, he was a key ingredient in the re-birth of the Blue Demons program, which had hit rock bottom under Joey Meyer.

Then-coach Pat Kennedy came in with a blueprint: to win, first you must take care of your own. Burno arrived along with Chicago stars Quentin Richardson, Lance Williams and Bobby Simmons. DePaul made the NCAA Tournament in 2000, losing in the first round to Kansas.

Since that year, the Blue Demons have experienced March Madness only once, 2004. 10 years later, the Blue Demons have hit rock bottom again and are looking for another coach, their 3rd since Kennedy quit in 2002.

Burno was the point guard on the 2000 team. He believes the next coach DePaul hires must share the same Chicago creed as Kennedy, but with a larger ambition.

"You look for a guy who has a vision for where the program should be in five years," said Burno, who has the ear of DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "Someone who has knowledge of how to build a program not only locally, but nationally."

Watching local stars such as Evan Turner, Derrick Rose and most likely Ryan Boatright flee the Chicago area for other programs is a problem. But Burno says focusing just on local talent, "puts mascara on a lot of issues."

"To compete with the big boys, you must get national talent," said Burno. "You have to make inroads with the best players in the country. You must have balance."

Burno didn't mention any names but did say DePaul will be looking at a number of candidates, those with head coaching experience and without. He says DePaul is still an attractive job with much to offer.

"With the good tradition we have, we can re-establish our brand as one of the best in basketball," said Burno.

Not that Ponsetto is asking, but I would take a look at Mark Montgomery at Michigan State. An assistant under Tom Izzo, Montgomery is, like Burno, a former point guard who is also the Spartans lead recruiter.

How would Kalin Lucas look in a Blue Demons uniform?


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This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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