Ask our prep sports coordinator anything about high school sports - and he'll be sure to respond. Send him questions of any kind at any time for his 12:30 p.m. Tuesday back-and-forth.
We're slightly delayed in getting going today, but now we're ready. Here we go.
Do you think Saint Thomas More will be the favorite for Girls Basketball in 2A for years to come? They have 3 returning starters and First-Team All-Staters that were Freshmen and Sophomores this year.
On the surface things definitely appear very bright for the Sabers' girls' basketball program. When a team returns its top three scorers from a program that was as successful as this one, that gives it a huge head start. However, here is the question that has to be answered. The two senior starters from this year, Jade Brinkoetter and Erica Wallen, were huge contributors. Are there two players on the horizon who can fill in next year and do as well? If so, next year's team can be even better than this one because they'll have that extra year of experience, not to mention the desire and drive to make amends for the way the championship game went. If no one steps up to fill the void vacated by Brinkoetter and Erica Wallen, then next year's overall team may not be better in terms of the state scene. STM will still be a 25-win team and will be one of the state's top teams, back to make the climb back to the top they need a group where no player needs to be "hidden" on the court. They had that this year. Maybe 12 months from now, it will be there again. There's plenty of time for the other returnees to dedicate themselves to being those players.
Fred,any update on the 2 Dec't. Schools going to the CS8 or another conference? What effect will that have on the remaining Schools? Especially Champaign-Urbana Schools.I can see the Big 12 in the next 3 years out of business.
Hi Tom. Eisenhower and MacArthur have expressed interest in the Central State Eight. Now, we need to see if it's mutual. I suspect it will be. And, I suspect they will both leave the Big 12. I'm sure it will be a package deal, if it happens. One won't go and one won't stay. I haven't heard anything officially yet saying this will happen, but it's my best guess as of now. Obviously, that leaves the Big 12 in a world of hurt. There are options, but I'm not sure how appealing they are. In terms of expansion, there simply aren't a lot of choices. Kankakee could be a possibility. So, too, could be a third public school in Normal, if and when voters approve it and it gets built. That is a down-the-road type of addition. You have to wonder if Mahomet-Seymour would be interestedin the Big 12 now that the expansion of the Corn Belt is going to the west. M-S no longer has the local rival with Rantoul, which will soon be a member of the reformulated Okaw Valley Conference. M-S' closest road trips will be to Bloomington CC, Normal U-High and Prairie Central. If the Bulldogs stay in the Corn Belt, they need to be prepared to add to the travel budget, especially for the conference portion of their schedule. I'd hate to see the Big 12 dwindle down to seven teams, but the one thing it would do in sports outside of football is allow schools to schedule some tougher non-conference games to replace what in recent years haven't been competitive contests against the Decatur schools.
when there are mutilple sporting events and games going on each night how does the staff decide which games to cover and not ?
Hi Brian. That's a great question. What we do during the regular season isn't necessarily what we do in the postseason. The idea in the regular season, for sports such as football and basketball especially, is to see as many different teams as we can and try to catch as many of the local 3A schools against each other as possible. In terms of the area, sometimes as the season progresses it means seeing the same team a couple of times in a short period of time because they're playing an opposing school we want to make sure gets some coverage. I think what confuses people sometimes is they see more stories on Rantoul, Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Monticello and don't understand why that is. Basically, there are weekly newspapers in those communities which have their own sports editors. Those papers are owned by The News-Gazette and we are able to use the stories by those sports editors in our section to enhance our coverage. The same is also true for the St. Joseph and Unity weeklies, when they are at full staff. But it doesn't mean we can send those people out to cover two totally different schools than what is in their area. It's a win-win situation for us, but it does affect how often someone from our staff sees particular teams. For example, I will be covering the Monticello boys' basketball team tonight for the first time this season. Thus far, we've relied on the very good coverage of the Monticello Journal-Republican's sports editor, Andrew Helregel. Once we hit the postseason, by process of elimination, the available teams to cover gets smaller each week, so those that advance the furthest are going to get the most notoriety.
With all of the success that Wane McLain had as the Head Coach at Peoria Manual and with his experience as an Assistant Coach at Illinois and now at Kansas State, any reason why a D-1 program hasn't taken a chance on him?
Hi Big Dave. Sometimes there are questions that don't truly have an answer. This is one that's hard to explain. I know sometimes coaches get type-cast as career assistsants. It could also be the chances to be a head coach were at smaller colleges, where he'd need to have success to work his way back up to the Division I ranks. Perhaps that's an avenue that the veteran coach didn't want to pursue. Maybe it's simply the timing. Jobs that might have been good fits weren't available when he was looking. It's a shame he hasn't had the chance to be a head coach at the college level. I've always been impressed during the opportunities I've had to talk with him.
Fred,What do you think about the new Football Coach hired at Central? I see another failure.I don't understand how you can hire a young 32 year old with 5 years head coaching experience from a 1-A,2-A school Milford- Cissna Park who has a mediocre record And 1 -year at Alton with 2-7 record.to come to Central with a lot of problems and all new staff again.3r'd. coach in 4 years. I would have thought out of 55 applicants they could find a more experiences coach that has a background with an ethnic community like Central. Reminds me of Urbana.Hopefully the young man will get the help he needs.Starting with equiptment and practice field that is up to date. About time Central gets what they need for a good program...
Hi Tom. I don't know who the other 54 candidates were, or even the other two who came in for a final interview, but I've had the chance to get to know Nate Albaugh from the time he was a multi-sport athlete at Monticello High School to his two stints at Milford. I know he has a passion for coaching. I know he comes from a coaching background. I know that he is a student of the game. I know that he vastly improved the Milford/Cissna Park program. I'm sure the people on the search committe at Central wanted the best possible person they could get. The last thing they want is for the program is to continue to languish near the bottom of the Big 12. Sure, this is a different era, but in the early 1950s, Champaign High School brought in a relatively unknown coach from Bement High School. His name was Tommy Stewart. He is now in the Hall of Fame and is the winningest football coach in school history. I don't think the size of a program a person comes from is much of a factor. I'm guessing what Central wanted was to start over, start fresh, break ties with those who have been involved and move forward with coaches that are anxious to be there. The one thing to keep in mind is that the program didn't get in this condition overnight and it's not going to be one where the next season will produce a 9-0 regular season. It will take time to get it built back up, but I, for one, think this hire might prove over the long run to be a very good one.
How do you see the Apollo shaping up in football this coming year? I know Charleston lost most of their firepower and will likely be down next year. I think Mattoon has a lot of their starters returing, and I'm unsure about Taylorville moving over from the CS8. Thoughts?
Is Rochester positioned for another run? I don't understand how a school in such a small town does as well as they have in such a short amount of time.
Hi Chad. I'll start with your last question first. I suspect Rochester is a lot like St. Joseph, Tolono or Mahomet. It's a community where folks move to in order to get away from a bigger city, yet they are close enough to that city (in this case, Springfield) if that's where the breadwinner's employment is. In a different direction, I think the same could be said for Chatham as well, though the size of the school is obviously much larger -- almost twice the size -- than Rochester's. You see that same thing in our area over the past couple decades as the athletic programs at area communities such as SJ-O, Unity and M-S have flourished and not necessarily because of families who ties to the communities go back generations.
As for the Apollo next year, it's interesting that only Charleston had an above-.500 record for all games last year. That seems to indicate if the Trojans are indeed rebuilding, the league is very wide open. Taylorville will be in the same situation, coming off a 4-5 season. There will be games to be won next year and the offseason will help determine which ones are successful. It could well be a year where there's not a clearcut favorite.
That's a wrap for this week. Thanks for all of the great questions. We'll be back again next week to tackle more. Have a great week.