Veterans offer hope for Plainfield SouthPlainfield South's Kevin Coker (24) attempts a long two, at the 26th annual Morris Boys Shootout hosted on June 29th and 30th. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Plainfield South senior Ed Presniakovas earned his fair share of personal accolades in his first three years of varsity basketball.
For the 2011-12 season, Presniakovas hopes he’s known more for his team’s success, not his scoring average.
Presniakovas, along with three-year varsity players Kevin Coker and Will Nixon, led the Cougars to an impressive showing at the recent 26th annual Morris Shootout as the Cougars look to build on last year’s conference championship run.
“Obviously, when those kids make it to their senior year we hope to have our program in place where we are competitive no matter where we play,” South coach Ken Bublitz said. “We believe that their example will be something that everyone understands and follows.”
The key to South’s success may ride on the shoulders of Presniakovas. The senior led the team in scoring last season, averaging more than 17 points per game.
“He obviously has great basketball skill, but he also has a great floor presence,” Bublitz said. “He helps to energize his teammates. His ability as a player allows players that play with him to succeed as well.”
Those key players around him are Nixon and Coker. Standing 6-foot-7, Nixon serves as the post presence needed to free up Presniakovas while the 6-5 Coker and guard Dantrell Wright fill in the necessary defensive ability.
“Will Nixon has improved every single year,” Bublitz said. “He works out hard. He has a full-circle AAU schedule and gives us an inside presence. Wright brings an excellent dimension to the defense end of the floor with his speed and quickness.”
Defense is one thing that has Bublitz’s squad one step ahead of the curve. With three players having at least two previous years of experience at the varsity level, the understanding of defense already is there.
“It’s vital,” Bublitz said. “Everyone that coaches and plays this game realizes that to have a chance to be good you have to be effective on the defensive end night in night out. Some nights shots won’t fall, but in order to play to your potential defense has to be there and has to be accepted by your team and program.”
Nixon and Coker are the perfect running mates, Presniakovas said. And that puts the Cougars in a familiar position.
“We’re still one of the best teams in conference,” he said. “We still have our core together. They know what I like to do and I know what they like to do, so it allows us to give each other the ball in position to succeed.”
Bublitz knows the challenge is greater this season, but he has to like his chances.
“We should have a chance to be in the top half of the league,” he said. “I think the league is underrated. There are a couple of teams that are high-performing squads that have tremendous balance. We feel were in position to compete with anyone in our conference.”
Both Presniakovas and Bublitz know summer is not the time to worry about wins and losses, but instead taking a step toward the winter.
“As a team we’re getting better at moving the ball around,” Presniakovas said. “I’m maturing a lot. Before I would force a lot of shots, but now I’m relying on my teammates more.
“If I need to score I can, but if I need to get others involved I can do that, too. I’m not worried about individual accomplishments. I’m just trying to make our team the best we can be.”
“We’re just going to try to put ourselves in position to compete as we improve and move on throughout the summer onto the season,” Bublitz said.