After going 18-11 and winning the Central Suburban League South conference last season, the Evanston boys’ basketball team fell to Schaumburg in the semifinal round of the Class 4A Evanston Regional. This season, they hope to avenge that loss with a solid 2011-12 campaign.
But second-year head coach Mike Ellis knows there is work to be done and hopes to see improvement from day to day. “Our goals are to try to improve each and every day in practice and play each game better than the last. You‘ve got to try and take care of yourself and improve each game.”
The coach added, “If we look ahead, we lose focus on the things we need to do to reach [Sectionals or be Conference champions].”
Ellis says he feels the Kits must play as a team in order to be successful this season. “We are not going to rely on one guy. We have to play as a team and rely on our working talent.” He added, “[How good] we become this year will be determined by how well we play as a team.”
The Kits opened their season against Taft on Nov. 21 with the first of five games in six days as part of the Lane Tech Tournament. In that tournament, the Kits also played Zion-Benton on Nov. 22, the day this paper went to press. Then they take on Payton tonight followed by Notre Dame on Nov. 25 and tournament host Lane Tech on Nov. 26.
“They will be tough to beat on their home floor,” Coach Ellis said, regarding Lane Tech.
Of the Lane Tech tournament as a whole, Ellis said, “Each of those games we’ll be testing a number of philosophies on the floor during the game.” After the Lane Tech tournament, the Kits open at home on Nov. 29 against Maine East in Beardsley Gym in Evanston.
This season, Ellis said, the Kits will only focus on their upcoming opponent and will not look ahead to who they play down the road. “Right now, I’m focused on Taft,” he said before that matchup. “We need to focus on the daily task at hand and improve each day. I don’t want to miss opportunities that are there tomorrow.”
In the first few games of the season, the Kits hope to find their identity as a team so they can be in position to make a long playoff run.
“During the first five or six games, we are going to be trying to establish our identity. Let’s find something we’re good at and hang our hat on that and bring it to the table each game,” said Coach Ellis. “I hope that thing is defense. We as coaches will be focusing on defense.”
Last season, the Kits began the season by winning 14 of their first 17 games, but struggled down the stretch, finishing at 18-11. Ellis says he hopes his team can play with more consistency throughout the whole season this year.
“We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent,” said Ellis. “We’re getting off to good starts (but) we have to understand that the second half of the season is more important than the first.”
The coach added, “The unity we have is a strength of our team and we will try to improve daily.”
If all goes to plan, look for the Kits to be a very consistent and hard working team that reaches the regional semifinals and beyond come playoff time in March. But in order to get there, they have to take it one day at a time.