AURORA – No stroke of genius or memorable epiphany was needed for Marmion boys basketball coach Ryan Paradise to determine a drastic change was needed.
A few simple glances at the scoreboard after games did the trick.
The Cadets’ offense was sluggish during the first weeks of the season, and it became apparent simply running half-court sets was not going to yield the results Paradise was after.
So Paradise essentially turned his athletes loose in the open court, encouraging a more uptempo, attacking style, and Marmion has played better ball since. The Cadets won on back-to-back nights Dec. 7 and 8, and scored 27 points in a sizzling first quarter against Suburban Christian Conference powerhouse Wheaton Academy before falling to the Warriors on Friday.
“Scoring 35 points in high school varsity basketball, you’re not going to beat anybody, so we knew we had to make some changes,” Paradise said. “We’ve got some real good athletes, we’ve got some guys that are fast that really play very sound defense, so I figure if we can pick up the pace and get more shots and not worry too much about our turnovers and get more attempts ... I thought it would be better for us as far as wins and losses go.”
The Cadets take a 3-6 record into today’s Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament opener against Hampshire, but Paradise thinks the “arrow has been pointing up” for the Cadets.
That certainly holds true for the team’s scoring output. Marmion is in a hurry to make progress, as anyone who has seen them play recently can attest.
“Since we’ve changed our style of play, we’ve been in the 70s,” Paradise said. “It’s easier for us to get baskets, but I still think we’re getting used to it [defensively] because we’re fouling a lot. If you’re trying to pick up your pressure and the pace of the game, it takes awhile to get used to guarding that way without fouling.”
Paradise referenced high-caliber athletes such as sophomore guard Jordan Glasgow – “a freak, athletically,” Paradise said – and fellow multisport athlete Jake Ruddy among the players who are thriving while playing at a quicker pace. The same holds true for junior Tyler Maryanski, who has surprised opponents with major offensive outbursts the past couple weeks.
“It wasn’t until we changed our style of play that he’s really been able to get in the open court and get in attack mode, where he’s been great the last few games,” Paradise said.
In addition to the amped-up pace, Paradise is also looking to progress on the medical front as the Cadets look to march back toward .500.
Junior power forward Danny Bicknell and senior guard Alex Theisen collided while scrambling for a loose ball earlier this month, and both players required stitches. Bicknell, who needed 12 stitches to his head, according to Paradise, is set to return after missing last weekend’s losses against Wheaton Academy and Willowbrook.
“Both of those kids are so tough, I wasn’t too concerned with a concussion, because there weren’t any symptoms of that, but getting stitches is no joke,” Paradise said. “It may not hurt too much to get stitched up, but you never want to jump back in there too soon and get something resplit. ... Danny was trying to get back in there right away, but it just was in his best interest to take some time, make sure those stitches get out, the cut is healed, but he’s ready to go now.”
The Cadets were runners-up at last year’s Chuck Dayton tournament, and Paradise is hopeful the DeKalb event can ignite his squad once again this season.
If nothing else, he figures today’s opener against Hampshire should be a nice way for his team to decompress from finals week.
“We’re trying to get healthy, we’re trying to get our academics in order, so I’m anxious to see how we kind of get back playing together after a little bit of a break here,” Paradise said.