St. Charles North reserve center Chase Gianacakos is lending his bulk to the North Stars boys basketball team after spending the fall as a standout offensive tackle in football. Gianacakos, a Michigan State football recruit, was selected to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl football showcase Friday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Kane County Chronicle sports editor Jay Schwab spoke with Gianacakos after Friday’s triple overtime loss to Simeon at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, touching base on the epic game and next week’s trip to Florida. The following is an edited transcript:
I know basketball isn’t your No. 1 sport, but this had to rank pretty high up there in terms of drama in your sports career today, right?
I would say. I’ve never had a game of this magnitude against a team like Simeon that’s won [four] straight state championships. It was just a great experience for me to be in that kind of environment. The guys played their hearts out today. We all did. It was a great game to be a part of. It was a great game to look back on and say I played in a game like that.
What did you notice in terms of Simeon’s athleticism, quickness, when you were on the floor?
They were long. They’ve got long guys, fast guys. I think we matched up pretty well with them. Obviously, their center was pretty long and tall and could jump.
To play them as well as you guys did is obviously quite the achievement, but the fact that you had them on the ropes like you did, does that make it a pretty bitter [result] in that respect?
I think for us just to say that we were there the entire time ... coach told us coming into the game to play loose, everyone’s expecting you do to do what happened to [Waukegan on Thursday night, a 41-point loss to Simeon], get blown out, but I thought we all decided we were going to play together as a team, not play scared.
I know you didn’t log as many minutes as some of these guys, but how crazy is it to think you guys still have another basketball game to play tonight?
Yeah, I’ve got to say, I feel bad for some of the guys, like Alec Goetz, our point guard. He’s got to be tired. But I know him, he’ll bounce right back.
Can you tell me a little bit about this (football) all-star game you were selected for. How excited are you about that?
I’m excited. It’s next week. I leave on Monday to go to it. It’s the Offense-Defense All-American Game, so it should be really fun. I’m playing with Gerald Owens who’s also going to Michigan State, he’s committed as a running back, so that should be really fun, just to hang out with him and get to know him a little better. He lives in New Jersey so obviously I haven’t met him that much. I met him one time. And just to be able to go out there and play against guys who are playing Division I football like I am, it should be great experience for me to see that.
How tricky is it to alternate between basketball and football right in the heart of basketball season?
A little bit, but all my coaches that I train with say football, playing offensive line, is like being a boxer and being a basketball player at the same time. You’ve got to use your hands but you’ve got to move your feet. I love basketball because it helps me with my footwork and makes me a lot faster. So I don’t think it’ll be too difficult, just knocking off a little bit of rust. We have two-a-days next week. It’s in Orlando, so they fly me down, and we’ll knock the rust off then.