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

March 2010 Archives

Best is yet to come from Harris

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The recruitment of Oswego East's Jordon "Jay" Harris in the past few months was like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It picked up size and speed as it went.

It just may be the tip of the iceberg for the senior who committed to Valparaiso University on Monday.

Harris, who started going by Jay after some papers misspelled his first name when he was promoted to the varsity as a sophomore, will be no flash-in-the-pan Frosty. Like that snowball, this skilled combo guard is only going to get bigger and better.

Think he's good now? Wait until you see him in a couple years.

At 6-foot-1, Harris is rail thin. When he pulled off his Wolves jersey after every game this winter, his ribs were clearly visibly through the skin-tight t-shirt he always wore underneath.

"He eats like there's no tomorrow," said his mom, Mari Johnson-Harris, who works for a non-profit (Opportunity International) in Oak Brook. "That's just the way he's built.

"One thing people always forget, he just turned 17 this past summer. His body has definitely not matured, yet."

Harris won't turn 18 until early August and is very likely not done growing. His father, Tommie, who played a year at Elgin Community College, stands 6-3.

The younger Harris lived in Naperville through the eighth grade -- he would have played at Naperville North -- before moving to Oswego.

"If it's the kind of opportunity you just can't pass up, he'll have to take it," Mari Smith said several weeks ago of possible scholarship offers from schools that are far from home. "I'd be sad to see him go far, but if that's what it takes to fulfill his dreams, we'll make it work."

On Monday night, when he announced his decision to go with Valpo, Harris said it's proximity to home was a factor.

"I'm definitely glad I'll be able to see him play (in person) more," said his mom.

She said basketball has been her son's main focus for a long time.

"He would literally mock what he saw on TV," she said. "He played football in seventh grade for one season and liked it but didn't take take to it enough to continue. He played some T-ball when he was younger but loved playing basketball all year round and started in travel ball when he was in third or fourth grade and played up a level.

"He's definitely a gym rat, by all means. He's always at the park or Y. Friends will call and they're off, playing somewhere."

That dedication has paid off with the college scholarship.

He handles the ball well enough to play the point (3.4 assists) and has a smooth, fluid stroke on his shot which is highlighted by a lightning-quick release that should serve him well in getting it off in college against better defenders.

He can score from outside -- 44 percent this season from beyond the arc. And he can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and score on a floater or layup, often drawing a foul. At the free throw line, he hit 87 percent.

After drawing some mild interest from recruiters his junior year and during the summer before his senior season, Harris thought he might commit in the fall, giving him "one less thing to worry about," said his mom.

She told him to take his time, that it was probably not the best plan.

She wanted him to find the best fit, look at the bigger picture and make absolutely sure of his choice.

It appears to have been a wise decision.

Krystkowiak to coach U.S. team in Germany

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The 18-under team Ryan Boatright will play for next week representing the United States in Germany includes a University of Kansas recruit and will be coached by former NBA player and coach, Larry Krystkowiak.

Boatright, the East Aurora junior, will leave Sunday to play in the 26th Annual Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim, Germany. The event will include national 18-under teams from 15 countries. Germany's 17-under team will also play.

Boatright is one of three point guards listed on the team's 12-man roster reported in Thursday's issue of Stars and Stripes. The Tomcat standout is listed at 6-foot.

He and the other two points, 6-1 Farooq Muhammad (Lawrence North, Indianapolis) and 6-1 Dillon Wadsack (Ramstein H.S., Germany) will have plenty of talented targets when they distribute the ball.

The recruit who will play for Bill Self next fall at Kansas is Royce Woolridge, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix.

The big men include 6-10 forward Michael Chandler (Muhammad's teammate at Lawrence North), who has verbally committed to Louisville; and 6-11 center Marshall Plumlee (Arden, N.C.), who has two brothers playing at Duke.; 6-11 forward Joshua Henderson (Roanoke, Va.); and 6-8 center Christopher Manherz (Cardinal Spellman H.S., NYC).

Plumlee won't join the team until its second game (April 4), because of a committment to a showcase in North Carolina this weekend.

Other players on the roster include: 6-3 guard Jamal Tuck (Aviano H.S., Italy), 6-3 guard Andrew White (Chester, Va.), 6-4 wing Damian Leonard (Greenville, S.C.) and 6-4 guard Kevin Ware (Conyers, Ga.).

The American team opens with pool play games April 3-5 against Croatia, France and Argentina, respectively.

Krystkowiak, of course, starred at Montana and was drafted in 1986 by the Bulls. He played with six NBA teams in a nine-year career, but mostly the Milwaukee Bucks. He coached in the college ranks as an assistant for several years and two years as head coach at his alma mater before joining the Bucks' staff of Terry Stotts in 2006. He succeeded Stotts, who was fired with 18 games remaining, and directed the Bucks the next year before he was fired and replaced by Scott Skiles.

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The Basketball Diaries, Vol. 12: Teah Gant

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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:


Hello fans! There hasn't really been much going on this week. After the Big Ten Tournament we got a few days off to recuperate. We traveled back to Madison on Sunday morning and also got Monday and Tuesday off. These definitely didn't feel like off days to me though. I had loads of work to finish and make up since we missed two days of school for the tournament. There wasn't really much time to rest on Sunday because I had three group projects to prepare for the week. This included finding time to work with each group and get every part of the presentation ready. Luckily, everyone was willing to work around my schedule and everything turned out well.


I'm also working on a project at American Girl. If you don't know, American Girl is the big doll company. On Wednesday my team and I had to go out to their site in order to get information for our project. In the middle of interviewing one of the workers, another worker came by to say that there was someone famous in the building. Of course I was very interested to find out who this famous person was. I mean who wouldn't want to meet a star? Soon after, I found out that they were talking about me. I definitely wasn't expecting that at all. It was kind of funny because we stopped in the middle of an interview to talk about sports. I felt bad for my other team members, but she was really excited that I was there. I wasn't really surprised that she hadn't recognized me herself because many people say we look a lot different all dressed up than we do on the court.


Now back to basketball business. We returned to practicing on Wednesday to prepare for the tournament. It's really hard having practiced without knowing what team you will be playing or when the game will be. The men's selection show was on Sunday, and ours was Monday night. I think that's kind of unfair because most of the women's tournaments are done the week before. We have to wait a whole week to find out as opposed to the men who only have to wait a couple hours. Nevertheless, practice remained really intense. We didn't go for long, but the competition level was at its peak. It's good to see that everyone is still willing to put their best effort into practice during this time of the year.


I've had the luxury of being able to play in post season every year I've been here. This year is much different though. It's the BIG DANCE! The WNIT was a great experience, but everyone strives to get into the NCAA Tournament. This year we've finally done it...hopefully. I don't like to say things until they're official, but my coach is pretty sure we are in. We're having a small party Monday night to watch the show as a team and celebrate the occasion. I'm so proud of my team and everything we have accomplished so far, but we're not done yet. Our goal from the beginning of the season was to not only make it to the NCAA tournament, but also go far into the tournament. The first round of play starts on Saturday. Wish us luck!

-Teah Gant #13

UPDATE: Teah and the Badgers were selected as a 7th seed in the NCAA East Region. They will face Vermont Sunday in South Bend, IN. Tip off is at 11:00 AM CDT and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

Dunk, shootout entrants hit Peoria

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No area teams advanced to the state 3A and 4A finals in Peoria this weekend but the area will be well represented tonight in both the 3-point shootout and dunk contests that kick off the festivities.

Action begins with the long distance shooters taking the Carver Arena court in the Peoria Civic Center at 5 p.m. Thirty two qualifiers in each class advanced from regional and sectional competition and includes Yorkville sophomore Derek Piszczek in 3A and Oswego East senior Jay Harris and Geneva senior David Tucholski in 4A.

Five local players are entered in the dunk contest, including three from East Aurora: juniors Letrell "Snoop" Viser and Ryan Boatright and senior Keenan McGhee in Class 4A. In 3A, competitors include Kaneland senior David Dudzinski and IMSA senior Trevor Hahm. The 3A field also includes Wheaton Academy's Luke Johnson, who played the previous season at Aurora Christian.

Dunk competition starts at 6 p.m.

Wendell Jeffries likes to point out to people that former USC coach Tim Floyd didn't accept Ryan Boatright's verbal commitment because he thought "Boat" could play in the PAC-10 as an eighth grader, but because he saw that he could develop into a PAC-10 point guard in four years.
While a four year projection of an 8th grader is kind of a crap shoot, basketball does allow you to see a player develop on a game-by-game basis.
Boatright has done just that over the years, and for as good as he is, he is just scratching the surface. He is becoming everything (and perhaps more) that Floyd expected, but he's still developing.
East's disappointing loss on Wednesday proved just that.

Let's break it down:

* In scoring 18 points on 5 of 22 shooting, Boatright extended himself too far offensively - he didn't let it come to him. It reminded me more of his game against Morgan Park earlier in the year as opposed to his smooth 40-point efforts against Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley in the regionals.

He is still figuring out how to take over a game as a point guard, which is a far more complicated task than any other position on the floor.
It goes beyond just the talent to do it - he has that - but there's something else. It's finding the right moments to score, and knowing when to bring others into the fray.

A prime example was in the third quarter when Snoop Viser got hot - perhaps the best pure shooter in the area this side of Jay Harris - and scored 10 points in four and a half minutes. But Viser didn't score again the rest of the game.
In fact, after Viser hit three free throws to draw East to within 43-39, the Tomcats scored just four points the rest of the quarter (all Boatright free throws).
In that instance, Boatright needed to use his ability to draw double and triple teams to feed his teammate.

* Earlier in the season, Boatright learned that constant trips into the paint took a toll on his legs later in games, so he's developed a short jump shot off the dribble. On Wednesday, that shot wasn't falling as the Benet defenders made sure to contest every attempt. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Boatright decided to go right to the hoop.
I know the shooter's mentality - you just keep taking the shots. But in a tight game where every possession is so valuable, your game has to adjust fluidly. If the short jumper isn't falling, either dish to the teammate left open by your penetration, or just go right to the rim and draw the foul.

* Boatright's game ended about a minute and a half before everyone else's Wednesday night as the only player to foul out. While the final foul call was questionable, he shouldn't have been in that position anyway. His fourth foul was a mistake - he left his feet and jumped into a stationary Benet player near halfcourt. Instead of trapping the player - who was not one of the Redwings' ball handlers - and causing a turnover or forcing a timeout, he got caught up in the air. It was a cheap foul that in the future, he can't make.
What makes "Boat" so much fun to watch though is that not only does he know these things, he's probably looking forward to his next games to work on them. It should also make for a fun senior season next year.

On Campus with Nick Fruendt, Part 3: NU Cribs

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What is daily life like for a Big Ten scholarship student-athlete? We take a peak into the world of Nick Fruendt, a sophomore basketball player at Northwestern. In this episode, Nick takes us to his house, where he lives with teammates John Shurna and Davide Curletti. Are you a fan of MTV Cribs? Then you'll love NU Cribs:

Hip to be square? That's Dix

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He's no Eminem, but the teacher gets high marks from his pupils.

Kevin Dix, an assistant to East Aurora boys basketball coach Wendell Jeffries, wanted to stress the importance of defense to this year's team so he wrote a rap. Then, he got English teacher Parker Gadbois to produce and direct a video to go with it.

Their collaboration -- Coach Dix Defense Rap -- can be viewed on You Tube, where it has received more than a thousand hits.

"I wanted to make some instructional videos but I thought making a normal one wouldn't be as much fun and probably wouldn't be as entertaining for these kids," said Dix, who had 16 years of head coaching experience at Marian Central in Woodstock and St. Edward in Elgin before joining Jeffries' staff three years ago.

"I'm not a rapper. It was just something fun to do."

It looks it, as Dix swishes a one-handed shot with his back to the basket, dunks and then does a good job as percussionist, playing a rack of basketballs like bongos.

"All teams have guys
who can drive it to the hole,
They post you up and shoot,
got moves that are so cold.

But teams that run 'n gun
never seem to win the prize,
Victory's at the other end
it's time to realize,

That defense is the biggest key,
it takes all of you,
It's a commitment,
now what you gonna do?"

Dix was inspired by Gadbois, he said, noting the teacher had done something similar with a Shakespeare sonnet for his English classes.

Jeffries liked it.

"I thought it was very motivational and helps with the rapport," he said. "Talking to them their way opened up communication."

He had the team watch it together last week before opening post-season play at the Plainfield East Regional, which they won with wins over Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley.

"It was crazy," said junior standout Ryan Boatright. "I'd give him a 98. I liked it. Everybody liked it. He said he's been writing it since October."

Letrell "Snoop Viser, saying it could be "video of the year," gave the coach a 99 instead of 100 "because he didn't have me in it."

Junior post player Tom Okapal "thought it was raw. Coach Dix snapped on it. For a 50-year-old white man, he didn't make a fool of himself."

To view the video, click here:

So many sights and sounds from East Aurora's instant classic Friday night; this is where we will begin and end this week's ATR. Fortunately, I packed extra batteries for my Flip camera. It got a work out Friday night.

First off, everyone in the gym thought the Tomcats had won the game in regulation. Up 57-54, Neuqua Valley missed a game tying 3-point shot with seconds left. The Wildcats' Dwayne Evans got to the ball, but all that was left was the final horn to sound. Instead, the officials granted Neuqua a timeout and put 1.8 seconds on the clock. The only person in the gym who felt the Wildcats deserved the timeout was the coach who called it, Todd Sutton.

"I knew we had the time left," said Sutton after the game. "They fixed it to what it should be."


Then as often happens in sporting events, the improbable happened. Rahjan Muhammed drained a turnaround 25-footer at the buzzer to tie the game at 57 and send it into overtime. Watch the shot here:

Not even East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries had to think the Tomcats were going to win in overtime.

But when you have #22 in your backcourt, anything is possible. Ryan Boatright had taken over the game late in 4th period and continued his domination into OT. Consider this: 35 of his 45 points were in both the 4th quarter and overtime and how's this for a stat: the junior guard made 22 of 27 free throws. The kid didn't need any ice water after the game. That's because it's already flowing through his bloodstream. Just a remarkable performance.

When the final gun sounded in the overtime and the Tomcats had completed their unlikely regional championship, the celebration was just as heated as the action on the floor:

I spoke with Boatright after he had hugged what seemed like 800 people on the Plainfield East floor. For the first time all season, he sounded like a kid, not burdened by expectations, but joyful about the game of basketball. Rightfully so after what he had just been a part of:

In the catagory of unsung heros, how about senior Tramell Weathersby? In the game of his life, the senior forward was a stud on defense, clogging the middle, getting a body on Wildcats big men Dwayne Evans and Kareem Amedu, making them uncomfortable in the paint. Weathersby did much of the dirty work inside along with Keenan McGhee, Andrew Fischer and Tom Okapal. I caught up with Weathersby in the midst of the celebration:

And finally, this is one of those special victories that should be shared by everyone: coaches, players, moms, dads, aunts, brothers. No one wanted to go home. The stars on the red carpet Sunday night in Hollywood had nothing on these Tomcats:

A night to remember, to say the least.

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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:


Senior night was a pretty emotional game. It was the final home game for two of our senior players, Matt Steger and Jeremy Nash, and also one of our managers, Daniel Blumenthal. Two of our other seniors, Jeff Ryan and Kevin Coble, will be coming back next year after suffering from season ending injuries this year. I am definitely going to miss playing with Jeremy and Matt next year. They have been very good leaders for our team, and I enjoy being around both of them. Jeremy and I were roommates on the road last year, so we definitely bonded during those times. He always brought Denzel movies on the trips, particularly one called the "Great Debaters", so this year I have asked him almost every time we go on the road if he brought it, but he hasn't this year. I also enjoyed his musical tastes. For some reason I remember he played Blink-182's "Feeling This" before a game in the hotel room once, and so I started listening to that song before games sometimes. We also were loving the new Eminem CD last spring, but that had kind of faded off. In the summer, Jeremy and I coached the same team at the Bill Carmody basketball camp, so that was fun. I usually did the refereeing while he did the coaching, but I always got the team to say that I was the better coach to try to get Jeremy mad. Our team lost in the finals due to some questionable referee calls, sadly made by me. I couldn't favor my team because I had to keep the integrity of the game. Also last summer we played on the same summer league team, which was a bunch of fun because it is pretty laid back, especially compared to the intensity of our practices or games.


We played pretty well against Chicago State. I didn't get in the game until the very end, and when I took a three it barely grazed the rim, which made me sick to my stomach. I was happy to get back in the gym the next day and get some shots up. My roommate Davide banked a free throw in during the CSU game, so I was sure to make fun of him for that. I still haven't missed a free throw in college, but I've only taken like 2 so it's not that big of a deal. Another thing that was really cool about the CSU game was that the American flag was presented by four members of our military. I felt really inspired seeing them walk on and off the court, doing their march. This reminds me that I watched the movie The Hurt Locker on the bus ride to Indiana. I have started renting movies on iTunes and then watching them either on my computer, but even better I can watch them on my iPod so they are portable. The other movie I watched this week was "More Than a Game", which is the story of LeBron's high school team. Both movies were excellent.


Once again, due to the noon start time of our game at Indiana, we had practice at 7 AM on Friday morning. Then we went to class, and then we got on the bus. The ride wasn't too bad, especially because I had my movie on my iPod and also I passed out for a good hour because I was pretty tired. Our team has fifth grade pen pals, so we wrote letters back to them during the bus ride to Indiana. I think in the spring we are going to visit them and go to recess with them or something. Once again, the game at Indiana still is hurting. We were right there and had many chances to win. It's pretty frustrating to keep losing on the road. I got in at the very end when Luka fouled out. It's hard to sit the whole game and then come in to a very important situation, but I have to be ready to do it. I think I played alright besides missing two trey balls; I just have to stay confident and knock those shots down. I think I might practice sitting down for a couple of minutes and then shoot like 50 threes in 10 minutes. Something like this could help me with situations like the one I was in at Indiana.

This upcoming week is the Big Ten Tournament, so we are getting pumped for that. We have to get a win and just take it one game at a time. It's reading week at school, so there is no class, but I also know that I have to study some in order to get ready for finals week next week. Shout out to my dude Matt Witt and his dad, Kyle. See you later.

-Nick Fruendt #15

The Basketball Diaries, Vol. 11: Teah Gant

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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:


Good morning Beacon News fans and hopefully Wisconsin Women's Basketball fans as well! It has been a very crazy week. As you might know, the Big Ten Tournament was this past weekend. I could write a whole book about everything that happened, but I'll just give you a brief recap of my weekend. We left for Indianapolis on Thursday after practice. As I mentioned last week, this was the first time in my career at Wisconsin that we didn't have to play the first day of competition. This was definitely beneficial because it gave us more time to prepare for Purdue. When we arrived at our hotel, which was probably the nicest hotel around, we immediately changed to go to dinner at McCormick and Schmick's. This was one of the awards from our coaches for having such a great season so far. Dinner was more than amazing. We even got to get dessert even though our strength trainer probably didn't agree with that. I would recommend the upside down apple pie, but I heard the Oreo cheesecake was really good as well.


Some of my teammates had to leave dinner early because we were hosting bible study at our hotel that night. All the other teams were invited to come, but I believe only players from Ohio State, Illinois, and Michigan State were able to make it. I think Ashley and Anya did an amazing job of organizing the entire event. I was kind of skeptical of having to be in the same room as all of my enemies on the court, but everyone was surprisingly very nice. I missed the beginning because some of us were still at dinner, but I heard it turned out very well. It's nice to see that people were able to put their differences aside and come together for one night to learn more about each other.


Now it's time for the good stuff. Our first game was against Purdue, and we definitely came out swinging. We were able to take control of the game from the very beginning. Part of this was because we were eager to get revenge from the last time we played them, but we were also very locked in on our game plan. Even though we made several mistakes throughout the game as any team does, I think that was the most complete game we had played so far. This gave us great confidence going into our next competition which was undeniably a battle from beginning to end.


The semifinal game was against Ohio State. Words can't even describe all the events of that game. I hope all of you got a chance to watch on TV. We led for most of the game but wasn't able to pull it out in the end. Ohio State shot about 45 free throws to our 18. I'll let you form your own opinion about that, but if you were wondering, that was a new tournament record. Even with all the adversity we faced, I'm so proud of my team because we left everything on the court. This was our third time playing them, and I'm positive they really dread playing against us now.

Finally, I just wanted to thank everyone who called and texted me after my games. Sorry I wasn't able to respond to everyone, but I really do appreciate you guys for watching and supporting me this year. I want to give a special shout out to Meshia and Shelley for coming all the way to Indianapolis to watch me. You both are great friends, and I'm happy to have you guys in my life.

-Teah Gant #13

Ryan Boatright Neuqua Valley Post Game

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When you have just finished playing the game of our life, you become an instant celebrity.

When you are Ryan Boatright, you are used to the attention.

Coming off his 45-point masterpiece Friday night, carrying the Tomcats on his diminutive 5'8" frame to a regional championship, Boatright was a wanted man.

After numerous family members, friends and other Tomcats faithful had a piece of him, I grabbed him for a few minutes before the bus left without him. He was as excited as I've ever seen him, predictably jovial after East's stunning victory:

This should give you a picture of the celebration on the court afterwards.

The East Side rap?

East Aurora Shocks Neuqua Valley 76-68 in OT

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In one of the best high school games you will ever see, East Aurora outlasted the mighty Neuqua Valley Wildcats Friday night 78-68 in overtime. The Tomcats are the unlikely winners of the Plainfield East regional.

The game had everything: great defense, some unbelievable shots--including one by Rahjan Muhammed to send the game into overtime--and a phenomenal individual performance by Ryan Boatright, who finished with 45 points.

Here is Tomcats coach Wendell Jeffries right after the game:

This was pretty cool. Boatright and the Tomcats celebrate with their fans right after the final horn sounded.

Whew. We may never see another one like this in a long time.

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On Campus with Nick Fruendt: Part 2

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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.

In this edition, Nick takes us to Spac Beach in Evanston, a popular hang out when there is not so much snow on the ground. Nick answers the question of who are tougher athletes, football or basketball players?

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If you want to attend Friday's 7:30 PM regional final between East Aurora and Neuqua Valley, here is what we know about tickets..

The gym at Plainfield East holds 1,500 seats. The distribution of those tickets will be as follows- 500 for East, 500 for Neuqua and 500 for the host school. If you are unable to get tickets through the individual schools, Plainfield East will be selling their allotment beginning at 9:00 Friday morning, ending at 4:00. You must stop by the school's athletic office to get tickets. If they do not sell out, you can buy tickets again at Plainfield East beginning at 6:00.

"We're anticipating a sell out," said Mary Jo Blankenship, Plainfield East athletic office assistant.

So come early.

Aurora Central Catholic vs Marmion Rematch

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The season is on the line for both the Chargers and the Cadets as they play in the Aurora Central Catholic regional tonight at ACC. Whatever happens, it will be tough to top the game they played earlier in the season, January 23rd at the Sears Centre.

Remember that classic? Down 13 points with 4 minutes left, the Cadets stormed back, closing out the game on a 24-4 run and shocking the Chargers 54-47. The win kick started Marmion's season, as they won 6 in a row, almost claiming a share of the Suburban Christian Blue Conference.

Proving short term memory is the best trait for any team, Aurora Central Catholic rebounded and almost claimed a share of the Suburban Christian Gold Conference.

So, will it be another victory lap for Marmion head coach Rashon Burno?

Or will the Chargers advance?

One thing we know for sure, it will be close. It always is with these two.

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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:

Wow I can't believe that we are about to be in March. There is only one more home game left on our schedule. Where did all of the games go? With that being said, I think March will be an exciting month. There are the final regular season games, the Big Ten Tournament, and hopefully another postseason tournament. It looks like we are going to have to win the Big Ten tournament in order to make it to the NCAA tournament. We can do it; we already won the Chicago Invitational earlier this season, but we need to get hot at the right time in order to do it. Outside of basketball, there is warmer weather (I hope) to look forward to, the end of winter quarter (final exams), and spring break on the way. I hope that this year's version of spring break will be filled with practice and games, but if not I look forward to spending some quality time in Batavia. I'm looking forward to this month.


We won our first game this week against Iowa at home, but then we lost at Penn State on Sunday. To be honest, both games were "revenge" games for us, but what happened kind of shows the difference between home and road games for our team right now. We just have not been getting the job done on the road this season. Our game at Iowa a couple of weeks ago was very disappointing. We played so lethargically that it was very hard to watch. So coming into our game against them at Welsh-Ryan arena, our team was pretty amped up. We wanted to show that the last game was a fluke, and we successfully completed our mission. John practically had more points than the Hawkeyes in the first half, and we rolled on to a double digit victory. An interesting note is that we did not play the 1-3-1 defense at all in the game, and our adjustments in our regular match-up zone defense worked out very well. I got in for the last minute and avoided Club Trillion by grabbing a rebound. Overall, it was a very fun game and the feeling after a win is so much better than after a loss.


The game against Penn State on Sunday was a different story. On Saturday, our chartered flight took off at 10 AM, and we actually practiced at their practice facility on Saturday late afternoon, but not their main arena floor because there was a concert that night. When we landed in Happy Valley, we had a couple of hours to kill before we could check into the hotel, so we went to a local sports bar. It's funny to see some of the looks we get when we go to restaurants as a team. People aren't used to seeing such tall people, especially in a large group, so they are usually staring. The funny thing is that I am 6'5" and I am on the shorter end of our team! I am pretty used to being around tall guys because I am around my teammates more than anyone, but when we go to public places with our travel sweat suits on is when I realize that we are much taller than an average group of people.


It was actually nicer to practice in a different setting than our home gym. Practice went pretty well, but it didn't translate into the game. We allowed them to score pretty much at will in the first half, and it was a frustrating loss to say the least. When I got in the game in the second half, I was just trying to play as hard as I could for as long as I could. It stinks when I play and we lose, but it's even worse when we lose and I don't even get into the game, like a week prior at Wisconsin. Pretty much all I care about is if we win. So if we lose and I don't play at all, I question if I prepared my teammates enough for the game and wish that I could have proved myself more during practice. After a win and a loss in the same week, I came back to the same mental state that I think is crucial during the season: don't get too high or too low.


Wednesday was a one-day-of-the-year type of day for me. After practice, I went into the locker room and was preparing to take a shower, but then I was called out into the lounge by our trainer. He told me that I was randomly chosen for a drug test! And I had just gone to the bathroom! I laughed when he told me because I had literally just urinated two minutes ago. This was around 4:45, so immediately I started chugging water so that I could go to the bathroom by 6. If I couldn't go by then, I would have to come in early the next morning and give my urine sample. I thought to myself, "Please, getting up for 9:00 class is difficult enough; I have to do this today." I drank five twenty ounce bottles of water (100 oz!), showered, and then went up to eat dinner at training table. Right at six, I reported to the training room and said that I was able to urinate, but really in my mind I was very unsure if I was going to be able to. Fortunately, I was able to produce an adequate urine sample, and I completed my first drug test of the year. Hopefully I won't get chosen again this year, but it's definitely a possibility.
I hope everyone gets off to a great start in March. March Madness is near! Shout out to my high school teammates that I haven't seen in a while. I miss all of you. Until next time...

- Nick Fruendt #15

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The Basketball Diaries, Vol. 10: Teah Gant

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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:


What's up fans? I have so much to fill you in on from this very busy week. I'll start off with our game at Penn State. Everyone was more than excited to be able to play them again and redeem ourselves from our previous home loss. We had late practice on Wednesday, so we didn't arrive at the hotel until after 10pm. This didn't stop us from getting together as a team and playing a game. I'm not sure if the game has an official name, but it involves three different rounds of play: describing the phrase, acting out the phrase, and describing the phrase with just one word. Each person only gets one minute to get as many phrases as possible. The funny part is that we all get to make up the phrases that we play with, and some people come up with the most random ideas which don't make any sense half the time. As you can probably imagine, it gets pretty wild because everyone is so competitive. We actually got in trouble for being too loud in the hotel room. To add to that, the game didn't end until about 12:30 at night, which was way past our bed time. We all agreed to play extremely hard so we wouldn't get in even more trouble for staying up so late.


I think we definitely lived up to our promise. We dominated the game from the jump ball. That was the largest point difference we've had all year. What I like most about that win is that even though we were up by a lot, we still managed to focus on the little things that make our team so special. We held Penn State to only 39 points. I think that says a lot about our defensive toughness and ability to focus for 40 minutes. I felt kind of bad for them because it was their senior night, but I still enjoyed beating them on their home court.


So, now it's time for the main event. Sunday was me and Rae's senior day. I'm really not sure where to begin. We all knew Iowa was going to be a very tough opponent, and we really needed to stick to our principles in order to win. There was a lot of emotion built up before the game. This was my LAST time playing at the Kohl Center, and I wanted to go out on a good note. Before the game, Rae and I were introduced with our families. I told my mom she wasn't allowed to cry before the game because that would have definitely made me cry too. I guess Rae Lin didn't give her mom the same message because she was balling before they even walked out. Luckily, Rae was able to hold back the tears because we did have a game to focus on. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, but our team played very well the second half to force the game into overtime. I didn't have much time to be mad after the game because we went right into the senior day celebration. Rae and I both made a video last week to thank all the people who have supported us throughout our lives. My mom and three brothers (yes I have three brothers) were all there to support me. All my teammates were betting that I would cry at this point, but I sucked it up. Surprisingly, I wasn't as emotional as I thought I would be after the game. Maybe it just hasn't hit me yet. That's probably because our season is still far from over. We're already focused on our next opponent. The Big Ten tournament starts on Friday for us, and we're looking forward to playing Purdue again. We definitely owe them a little revenge from the last game. Wish us luck!

-Teah Gant #13

p.s. Sorry Brandon (my third brother) that I didn't have a picture of you to add to the video, but here's a personal shout out. I love you and thanks for coming to the game.

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