The Aurora Central Catholic boys basketball program has turned in some thrilling postseasons despite carrying unimpressive records into March.
The Chargers might be taking that formula to an extreme this season.
Veteran ACC coach Nate Drye’s team won only once in the 2013 portion of its schedule, and will lug an unsightly 1-10 record into Tuesday’s game at Joliet Catholic.
Past Chargers teams have found another gear after being around .500 during the regular season. But ACC has a lot of work to do to sniff .500 this time.
“We don’t have to be good until March, and so until then, it’s just an improvement time,” Drye said. “The kids have gotten better. We’ve done it before. They just have to get better.
“One of the few nice things about where we are is it’s easy to see improvements for us. You see kids getting better. We just have to do it on a more consistent basis.”
ACC picked up its lone win against a Milwaukee opponent at the recent East Aurora Holiday Tournament, and almost nabbed win No. 2 on Monday before falling in overtime to Oak Lawn in the tournament finale.
Mostly, though, the Chargers have been pushed around this season.
“Our biggest issue by far and away has been rebounding,” Drye said. “We’ve struggled to defensive rebound and keep people off the glass. When we get stops, they’re instantly negated by giving up the offensive rebound, so that’s hurt us a lot.”
ACC’s interior woes are somewhat understandable considering the Chargers have been without 6-foot-7 senior Sean Anger, who broke his collarbone during football season.
Drye said Anger was his squad’s top player during the summer.
“It’s been a struggle to fill in without him,” Drye said. “Hopefully, getting him back, whenever he does [return], will be a boost for us.”
ACC has compounded its rebounding travails by frittering away too many possessions with turnovers.
As poorly as the Chargers have played at times, it’s hard to count out ACC considering the program’s postseason pedigree under Drye.
ACC has been one of the area’s most successful programs during the past decade, including regional championships in 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2011-12. Last season, the Chargers stunned powerhouse Wheaton Academy in a regional semifinal before narrowly losing in the final against St. Francis.
Drye has overseen the Chargers’ rise from a program that went 8-21 his first season to one that has finished with winning records in five of the past six seasons.
So this? A 1-10 start to the season? The fiery Drye’s patience certainly is being tested.
“But I’m sure it’s no more frustrating for me than any of the guys,” Drye said. “We’re in the same boat. We all want to get to the same place, so I’m not going to get down on them if they’re giving effort. … I’m not going to scream and yell and belittle them for doing the best they can at that moment in time. A lot of them are still learning how to play and what-not.”
Drye noted that the Chargers’ top two scorers against Oak Lawn, Mac Cowen and Brett Czerak, both are freshmen. Sophomores Evan Schuetz and Nick Faltz also have had strong moments.
A team with so many youngsters typically makes big strides as the season unfolds.
That’s the ACC way, anyhow, which could be alive and well come March, no matter what the Chargers’ record says now.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.