Snider High School has joined in on the fun of June basketball with their new Monday night league that will run these last three weeks of the month. This week’s opening slate of games was a fun one with all but two games finishing competitively.
Coach Jeremy Rauch and company put on a good event and to have some basketball on a Monday night is not anything that this guy will ever complain about. Keep in mind, my thoughts are simply some observations I took in watching the six teams play, BUT it is still just June.
What you will not find here are my thoughts on North Side, who was the sixth team playing. I caught the Legends just last Thursday and you can read about my thoughts from them and others in the USF Shootout here: BOUNCE: Takeaways from USF Shootout on June 6
We may as well start with the host team because they certainly earned that right going 2-0 while missing several pieces on opening night of games. In the second half of their game against Leo, Isaac Farnsworth showed his improving craftiness. On the first possession of the half, he passed up and open three to take an extra two dribbles and drain a closer jumper. The next trip up the court, he used his baseline drive to draw in a gaggle of Lion defenders and chose to dump it off to Michael Eley at the rim for a score. One of the knocks on Snider through later struggles last season was decision making being poor. They seem cognoscente of needing and wanting to improve that.
Eley is another one that I was interested in, only seeing him once this summer on the AAU scene. His games with sis Snider teammates held up with expectations that game set for me with a fresh desire to get to the rim as other teams prepare for him to pull up for jumpers.
In their second game against South Side, the Panthers were able to show the gritty in your face man to man defense it takes to compete for a SAC title. Tough strips, five second calls and challenging the Archers at the rim were critical in a frantic game. That is certainly another byproduct of both coach Jeremy Rauch’s summer with Indy Heat and the knowledge by the Panther players, from top to bottom, that they just have to do better with no excuses. The Panthers finished with wins over Leo and South Side.
I like Joe Reidy running the point. He’s a more than competent ball handler that can create matchup issues in transition because of his height and the type of defender he is likely to draw. His first step is quick and that was a problem for Warrior opponents on Monday.
The Warriors came out swinging in their first game against Churubusco, but mistakes and Eagle aggression really sucked the energy out of them on the court and sideline once Busco started showing their own strengths. Through that, I did get to see a lot in Colin Hahn that former Warrior Aaron Hahn used to project when it came to aggressive play. He is going to be able to fill a bigger role this coming season.
Woodlan remains an enigma, a talented rotation of 5 to 6 that players should be a contender in the ACAC yet hasn’t found the glue to connect it all together for sustained success. Monday they strung together 3 to 5 minute stretches but a lack of movement and energy was palpable. Leadership is certainly something they need and it leaves Bounce hoping that the absence of senior-to-be Ben Reidy was an isolated incident related to football practice; when looking for leadership, having a quarterback can’t hurt.
The Warriors lost to both Churubusco and North Side.
Why does the aforementioned on court leadership role mean so much? Look at the Eagles. An important note for Churubusco is how nice it is for them to have a true on court general who coaches his teammates up like Jackson Paul, who’s dad and grandfather sit on the bench so we know he comes honest by his affinity for coaching. His head for the game continues to translate too; I almost feel like he has a point to prove each time I see him because every glimpse at Paul leaves me more impressed by his overall talent.
The Eagles got some good looks in their opener with Paul flashing to the basket against Woodlan while Landen Jordan had the ball in the short corner, but Jordan looked a little shook and his vision wasn’t what we’ve come to expect. For the entire team, ball rotation and patience was important on Monday, that too is likely to a trend that follows them all season. Paul, Gage Kelly and Noah Wolfe were downright disruptive in the first game defensively and that could be something that Busco can really hang their hat on in the future. That is a lot of ball pressure and passing lane aggression on the perimeter that most teams won’t have the personnel to handle. Wolfe, who comes from Canterbury for his senior season, has a scoring touch that is super smooth when he is consistent.
Their second game against Leo saw Jordan getting much more involved, making them much tougher. Jordan played smart defense against Leo’s DJ Allen, forcing the Leo post into difficult, if not impossible shots. Offensively, Jordan played above the rim and his bounce really does appear to improve each time I see him. In the NECC especially, he should be a game changer most nights.
The Eagles beat Woodlan and Leo on the night.
The Lions have shooters and their ability to get hitting in transition is vital. Leo isn’t as strong in a half court, slowed down game. They succeeded against both Snider and Churubusco by playing at a tempo that will just wear down even the most steady teams. What will Leo be beyond Eric Steger and Blake Davison’s shooting prowess? Their interior game looked behind on Monday but considering their opponents, that isn’t surprising. Even at times when DJ Allen was able to get mismatches in the post, that was not an area they exploited.
Now more experienced, yet still quite young, Leo did and will shoot well enough to stay in games so what I would like to see most is more killer instinct when in those situations. That, in my opinion, came on Monday with not enough consistency but did come from Davison, who often proved that even though Leo has many weapons, there is a reason that the Davison name has been a consistent source of Lion success.
Leo fell to Snider and Churubusco on Monday.
Easily the most noticeable thing about South Side, with distance from the previous season, is the rapid improvement of Kamron Mitchell. By season’s end, he wasn’t pigeonholed as just a shooter but he also wasn’t what I would consider an explosive top scoring option. That has all changed; his own 7-0 run against North Side took that game from manageable for the Legends to out of hand. He dunks, he dunks well and he has developed a further tenacity to attack the rim.
The Archers, meanwhile, will need to continue to work on their perimeter game especially with Mitchell attacking the basket the way he did Monday. Jaylen Lattimore, Austin Jordan and Treveon Jones all have such nice looking shots and they worked the ball around the perimeter well, especially in the opening game making North Side play chase and catch up to a point that made my head spin. And while Snider got the better of their second game, in both games the Archers showcased some of that tenacious defense that harkens back to old-school SAC play by getting into passing lanes and making teams appreciate every successful dribble they get without the ball being stripped loose.
The Archers split their games Monday, beating North Side and losing to Snider.
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