A look at the midway point in boys basketballTyrone Sherman of Homewood-Flossmoor breaks to the hoop past Xzavier Taylor. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Updated: January 9, 2012 7:02PM
The boys basketball regular season has reached the midway point. A number of teams have exceeded expectations, while others have yet to meet them.
For the second consecutive season, Homewood-Flossmoor earned top billing in our preseason Top 10.
The Vikings finished 23-6 last season, but failed to advance beyond the sectional semifinals.
No big deal.
Not with Tim Williams, Tyrone Sherman, Delvon Rencher and Antonio Bishop returning for their senior seasons. H-F was expected to dominate in 2011-12.
It hasn’t happened — yet.
The Vikings are 10-4, finished sixth at the Proviso West Holiday Classic and have free-fallen to No. 8 in our poll.
Hard to imagine a team with one four-year varsity starter and three three-year varsity members finishing no better than sixth at a Proviso West tourney that wasn’t nearly as intimidating as years past.
I’m still waiting for the Vikings to put the pedal to the metal and destroy inferior opponents. Like a similarly talented Thornton squad, led by Antwaan Randle El, Napoleon Harris, Melvin Ely and Tai Streets, did to foes in the mid-1990s. Before you blinked, those Thornton teams were up 20 en route to a 30-point win. They didn’t play it safe at the end of quarters in an effort to preserve a lead; they preferred to maul opponents and widen leads.
Night in, night out.
The Vikings have allowed too many inferior opponents to remain within striking distance.
I was a big fan of Eisenhower’s “Grinnell College” style, one that demands quick-scoring on offense and full-court pressure defense. The Cards exceeded 100 points a half-dozen times last season. It’s not necessarily a very enjoyable style of play if you’re a reporter taking score and jotting down notes. But as a fan and player, it’s an exciting brand of hoops. Come to think of it, I’d love to see H-F play this style for one half.
But for the Cards to be a consistent winner, it might require some modifications.
Eisenhower is 5-12 but has blown a handful of double-digit second-half leads. Maybe, just maybe, when the Cards are enjoying a sizable advantage, they should take the air out of the ball, so to say, and play a more conventional style. Possibly attempt to slow things down and eat some clock in an effort to protect the lead.
Andrew is 10-0 and will be our new No. 1 team when our top 10 is unveiled Wednesday. This isn’t baseball or football season, mind you, but boys basketball. Andrew No. 1? There’s a number of reasons for the Thunderbolts ascent. Obviously, they’re playing great basketball, Guys like Glorind Lisha who few, present company excluded, knew little of prior to the season are turning heads.
But the biggest impact is that of junior Jubril Adekoya. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 12.3 rebounds and continuing to receive interest from Division I colleges.
It’s no secret Adekoya, who stands 6-foot-6, was being pursued heavily by various private schools while in junior high. But the opportunity to play with his two brothers and turn the struggling local high school program into a winner enticed him. The easy decision would have been to attend a more successful private school, which would have provided instant gratification and additional exposure.
But the young man chose the more arduous route, which is proving more satisfying.
“I wanted to play close to home and try to turn this program around,” Adekoya told me earlier in the season. “It’s been a lot of fun and very rewarding.”
How about Lemont? The Indians, at 12-2, have matched the football team’s victory total, which generally takes two to three years to fulfill. The addition of Juozas Balciunas, a transfer from St. Joseph’s, has produced big-time benefits. He’s the Indians leading scorer, averaging about 15 points per game. Other kids, like Mike Wisz, Joe O’Brien, Matt Lipowski and Joe Hehir have developed into solid contributors. At 4-1 in the South Suburban Blue, Lemont is in position to win the conference. Few could have envisioned that prior to the start of the season.