St. Charles North boys basketball coach Tom Poulin is no stranger to tryouts.
This year’s tryouts, though, might challenge the eighth-year coach more than some past seasons.
Preseason tryouts began across the area for boys basketball teams Monday, with regular practice to begin later this week.
With so many open spots after heavy graduation losses for North, Poulin said plenty of varsity newcomers will merit a long look this week.
“We have to do our due diligence these three days and see who forms the best team,” Poulin said.
Although North graduated four starters from last year’s squad, there are plenty of reinforcements on the way. That potentially could include Division I football athletes Chase Gianacakos and Garrett Johnson, both of whom bring plenty of size to the table but did not play basketball last year.
“We’ve got some strength and size inside that I don’t think people are accounting for when they think about what we’ve got returning,” Poulin said.
Poulin is high on North’s intangibles based on what he observed during the offseason. On paper, he realizes North will be considered an underdog in the Upstate Eight Conference River this season compared with teams such as defending champion Larkin, St. Charles East and Geneva.
“People will really like to watch these guys play because they’re going to play as a team,” Poulin said. “But on the way from Point A to Point B, there’s going to be a lot of growth.”
Saints happy to be healthy: St. Charles East’s summer program was disrupted by the absence of the team’s top returning players because of various injuries.
As the preseason begins, though, Saints coach Pat Woods is delighted to have everyone available, including returning starting guards Dom Adduci (labrum surgery) and Cole Gentry (stress fracture in back).
“They’re all cleared,” Woods said. “Dom has looked really good in open gym. It’s crazy because he took six months off but somehow when he [returned], he looked better than he did last year, which is encouraging.”
Gentry said being away from basketball for a prolonged period heightened his zeal to play.
“I didn’t really know how much it meant to me until I couldn’t play,” Gentry said. “I knew I loved basketball but it really shows you how much you love it when you can’t play it. I’m really appreciative that I can play again now.”
New sheriff in town: The only new coach in the area this season is Pete Froedden at Wheaton Academy. Froedden said part of the Warriors’ preseason focus will involve accepting his philosophy on shot selection.
Some players might not have as much offensive freedom as they’ve had in the past, Froedden said.
“I like scoring the ball fast if we have the ability to,” Froedden said. “But at the same time, scoring fast doesn’t mean taking dumb shots.”
Tri-Cities presence: St. Francis’ team should have a strong Tri-Cities flavor this season.
Senior forward Kilian Brown, of Geneva, and senior forward Adam Hart, a St. Charles North transfer, could team to give the Spartans a strong frontcourt. Brown was a key reserve for last year’s sectional championship Spartans team.
Guard Kevin Blank, of Batavia, also is expected to factor in for the Spartans.