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Ask our prep sports coordinator anything that's on your mind and he'll be sure to respond during his 12:30 p.m. give-and-take.
Here we are, back for another of our weekly prep chats. Lets get right to the questions.
Out of all the area boys basketball teams, what is your top 10 list for next season? Are there any teams that might be a surprise top team next season? Also, we hear a lot about the top offensive players in the area, could you provide a top 10 list of the best defensive players in the area, specifically 1A/2A?
A preseason top 10 now might not look much like it will next November, when the schools start into their official practice. For now, I base a lot on returning players who made significant contributions this year or talented freshmen-sophomore teams, but so many things can change. Some players and teams will work harder than others in the off-season. There could be injuries. Transfers. As of now, here's what I would say for a preseason top 10:1) Centennial2) St. Joseph-Ogden3) Arthur-Lovington4) Monticello5) Shiloh6) Westville7) Mahomet-Seymour8) St. Thomas More9) Champaign Central10) Oakwood
Based on what they did this year, I may have Central ranked too high, but I'm thinking with the coaching change, it will generate enthusiasm and perhaps get a larger pool of athletes playing the sport, plus there are some good young players on the rise.
As for the defensive players, I think there are a lot who have the potential to be a shut-down type player, and do so on occasion. Not everyone buys into that game after game. As a team, Westville has several of those players who get the importance of defense. Blue Ridge junior Will Duggins is another one.
Fred,what is the neatest article that you have ever written about in your career?
Hi Tom. I haven't thought about that for a while. The first thing that comes to mind is a Spring, 1984 trip I took to UCLA to cover Centennial's Roger McClendon in the McDonalds All-American game. I walked into Pauley Pavilion and was heading down to the court when I glanced to my right and saw a solitary figure sitting by himself watching practice. I immediately recognized that it was legendary coach John Wooden. I went up and introduced myself and, without having any questions prepared, interviewed him for 10 or 15 minutes. He was so polite and cordial. I think it helped that he was from Indiana and I was a Midwestern guy. I turned that into a story later in the week. That was the perfect example of being ready for a story when it comes to you. There's not always time to prepare or do your "homework" about someone. I know from experience that not everyone is so congenial and cooperative in those circumstances and I always appreciated John Wooden for that.
First time chat! I was reading the past several weeks and someone discussed area boys 1st team only averaged 14 points. I saw it was mainly juniors, so why didn't this year follow tradition with mostly seniors selected? I felt sorry for the guy who averaged 16 as a senior and was only special mention and I guess it can be looked at in different ways. The 2013 first team played on teams that advanced, but with several IHSA classes now it seems watered down and not the level of accomplishment as past decades? I agree with you mid range jump shots are gone, but I'm not sure these good teams simply had many player options to argue lower individual points average. And if it only took 14 points to make first team some argue skill level must be declining... result of multiple classes now? Were any of the first team boys basketball also first team in football last fall?
Welcome to the chat. There were no All-Area first-teamers for this school year in both football and basketball. The closet was a first-team football player from Monticello, Bryan Phipps, who was a second-team selection in basketball.As for the makeup of this team, or any team for that matter, we never look at it as a career achievement-type thing where seniors are rewarded for being seniors. The best players are the best players, regardless of their year in school. As for the point totals, there's so much that goes into a player's scoring average. One thing is the quality of the team. Good teams might be good because they have numerous players who can score and rebound and that was the case this year, especially with Centennial and St. Joseph-Ogden. Those schools didn't need their top players to get 20 points per game every time out, but when they did need that kind of production, they were able to get it. As for the 14-point average for first-teamers, I think that's what someone figured out for the 10 players picked. There were certainly players that averaged well above that and others below who were more valuable for their ballhandling and distributing skills. Thanks for checking in.
Do you take into consideration the level of competition when deciding all area teams and players of the year (for baseball particularly)? It seems that (other than basketball) the all-area teams are dominated usually by small school athletes. I think that some consideration should be given to players that may not have as good as statistics but has played tougher competition throughout the season? Just curious. Thanks.
You bring up some issues that we always take into account every year, regardless of the sport. We've had players from the larger schools as Players of the Year quite often in football and, just last year, the choice in baseball was a Class 4A player (Chuckie Robinson, from Danville). We try to avoid "projecting" how someone would do if they were at a different school, whether that is a larger or a smaller school. I don't think it's right to assume a big-school player would always do better at a smaller school, and vice versa. We have to look at how they perform at the levels they are at. We certainly don't go strictly on stats. That's simply one of the supplemental areas where we look. We recognize there are always people who think so-and-so was overrated and that someone else was overlooked. That's the nature of the business. Our goal is to come up with a team that is representative of our entire circulation area, which covers about 50 or 51 high schools. One of the considerations is which smaller schools play larger schools and, on the opposite side of that, which larger schools play quite a few smaller schools. we always seek input from the coaches, as well.
Im hearing that the Decatur LSA coach Dave Kreps is on the outs with the LSA administration. Have you heard any of that?
It would be a shame. Before he tookover Kyle Karsten, that team only won 3 games and it was the same team all three times. Kreps just recorded a 20 win season and regional final.
I have not heard anything along those lines, so I don't honestly know what the situation is. No doubt, the Lions program did well, led by a player who will be continuing his career at Millikin University.
We have to wrap this up for this week and move onto the other things on the to-do lsit. Thanks to all who have participated. It's appreciated.