After reaching the Class 4A Super Sectionals last season, the Evanston Township High School boys’ basketball team hopes to have similar success in 2012-13. But after losing 10 seniors to graduation, the Wildkits know they have work to do in order to match last season’s success.
“We have such a big turnover of new players on the team,” said head coach Mike Ellis, whose team features just four seniors and three returning players this season. “We graduated a lot of seniors and most of those seniors were the ones who played significant minutes so our goals are really simplified to become better each and every day and working hard in practice to make sure we improve on a daily basis.”
In order to reach those goals, Coach Ellis simply hopes his team can show steady improvement day in and day out. “We just have to challenge them and make things as competitive as possible in practice,” said the Coach. “We are just trying to build some foundation for them to improve on each day and take it to the next level as the season goes on.”
If the Kits are to match last season’s success, Coach Ellis feels his team has to develop team unity and play together, which was a big reason the Kits had so much success last year. “Hopefully something that the players on this year’s team will take away is the unity that last year’s team played with,” said the Coach. “With their unity and their willingness to play together as a team, it really allowed them to achieve success and reach the Super Sectionals against Simeon in that season. Hopefully that is a lesson that these guys can learn and try to implement this season.”
When asked which players he is counting on to carry the load, Coach Ellis said every player needs to step up every night due to the youth on this year’s squad. “To be honest, it is a different one each practice. I think (that is) because everybody is so new. Everybody is trying to find their niche,” said the Coach. “There are no guaranteed starters and only three players (seniors Chris Rudnicki, Pete Winslow and junior Jackson Mihevc) were on the roster last year. Those three have probably been the most consistent players.”
Coach Ellis added, “The kids obviously are going to have to improve as the season goes on. I do not think we have a guy that is going to just knock in 20 points a night and be a leading scorer like that,” he said. “I think we have to be smart, we have to play smart, we have to play with each other, try to play together as a team defensively and offensively. Whoever has the hot hand that night or on a particular possession (we have to) be able to get that person the ball (and if we do that) we can have a successful percentage of scoring opportunities.”
When asked which teams or tournaments they are looking forward to, Coach Ellis said, “We are just looking forward to the next game. That includes New Trier. There is nobody on the schedule that we say we cannot wait to play because if we do that we are going to waist opportunities to improve before that game.” He added, “I think the simpler it is, the better it is for our team this year. We just have to water it down to we need to take care of ourselves and we need to work on improving to play better each and every day.”
On Nov. 19, the Kits won their season opener against Holy Trinity, 85-39. They are scheduled to take on Notre Dame on Nov. 20, after this paper goes to press. The Kits are set to take on Zion-Benton on Nov. 23 as part of the season opening Frank Lollino Thanksgiving Tournament. That game is followed by a matchup with Lane Tech on Nov. 24.