Several area boys basketball coaches had a smoother start to preseason workouts on Monday than they are used to.
With earlier football playoff exits than usual at some area schools – and others that uncharacteristically missed the playoffs altogether – most boys basketball programs are spared the usual shorthanded buildup to the season.
Aurora Christian is the last area football team standing, and several schools that usually are playoffs staples – such as Geneva, Marmion and St. Francis – have been done with football since Oct. 19.
Kaneland boys basketball coach Brian Johnson is accustomed to opening tryouts with less than a full deck – the Knights’ football team made the 5A state semifinals each of the past two years – but with Kaneland falling in the second round on Saturday, his squad should take shape more quickly this go-around.
Johnson said he gave football players the option of taking a few days off to physically and mentally regroup but they wanted to jump in right away.
“I would have liked to miss them another two, three weeks, which obviously means it’s going well [for the football team] throughout the playoffs, but there are some older kids there and kids who have been around the program, so they really aided in helping practice move nice and smooth,” Johnson said.
One exception – the Knights will be without returning starting point guard Drew David, likely until some time in December, Johnson said. David, Kaneland’s standout quarterback, is expected to have thumb surgery after a late-season football injury.
Johnson said David’s backup in football – junior Tyler Carlson – could stand in for David in hoops, too, while junior John Pruett will likely be another of the team’s ball-handling options, along with versatile senior Dan Miller.
“Granted, none of them are true point guards, but they’re not afraid to take care of the basketball,” Johnson said. “It’s probably going to be a point guard by committee and go by the best matchup for that game.”
Charger shuffle: With former Aurora Central Catholic assistant coach Pat McNamara now Aurora Christian’s new head coach, ACC coach Nate Drye elevated freshman coach Mike Cowen to one of his two varsity assistants.
Cowen joins Drye’s brother, Dan Drye, on the varsity staff.
“[Cowen] knows exactly what we’re doing,” Nate Drye said. “He’s been around, and my brother, Dan, has been with me since day one, so he’s probably more responsible for some of the stuff that we do than even I am. He’s the brains behind a lot of the stuff that we’ve implemented. He’s a huge help.”
Drye might be the quickest area coach out of the gate to solidify his roster, saying he already made cuts after the first day of tryouts Monday.
“There’s no point in getting people’s hopes up so I just did it after the first day of practice,” Drye said. “It is what it is.”
Smart plan: St. Charles East junior point guard Dom Adduci recently made college visits to Cornell (N.Y.) and Colgate as Adduci continues to place heavy emphasis on academics in his recruitment.
Adduci, a Division-I prospect, said he would rather attend a school with high-end academics even if it potentially means playing for a program with a lower basketball profile.
“That’s probably my number one goal, to use basketball as a tool to get to where I need to be academically,” Adduci said.
Purdue-bound teammate Kendall Stephens and Adduci provide East a formidable 1-2 punch and a solid base on which to build off last year’s 15-13 season.