A big boost in the four team Summit Athletic Conference title race will go to the winner of this week’s Outside the Huddle Game of the Weekend. Snider will travel to Carroll on Friday night for the end of the girl-boy double header season where the boys side will see a rematch of December’s SAC Holiday Tournament Title game.
1. LOSER MAY BE OUT OF CONTENTION
With four teams sitting at 4-1 in the SAC as we officially peel by the midway point of the season, every game is crucial and a second loss probably takes you out of title contention. While few SAC games are easy, you have to imagine that neither of these teams can afford a loss as each only has one game left against top competition after Friday (Snider at Luers February 14 and Carroll at Homestead on February 21). While these teams can’t let that sneak into their conscience too much, it is going to be an important point on Friday night.
2. MAKING CHANGES
Snider has to make changes, that is a no brainer. What they did the first time, in a 60-49 loss on December 28, did not work. The Panthers have had to work since then to make system adjustments and now have to make specific ones to avoid the rematch with Carroll going the same way. And the Chargers are not immune to change either. With Snider making adjustments, the Chargers have to adjust too, sharpening themselves heading into the game and being able to adjust on the fly to whatever Snider is doing different in game.
3. SNIDER HAS 9 LIVES
They do have a feline mascot, right? Homestead had them beat; not so fast. Churubusco had them beat bad; no so fast. The mystery of the year 2020 right now is to how to beat Snider when you never actually have them beat until the clock reads 00:00. If you let Snider stay close, they can win any basketball game and that has to be a scary prospect for any team right now. The Panthers keep finding ways to live in the moment and thrive.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
MICHAEL ELEY, SNIDER
This has been a blockbuster week for Eley, scoring 25 and 27 in a pair of Snider wins. That wasn’t the case the first time these two teams met when he scored just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting. If Eley can work through any struggles, like he did Tuesday against Churubusco, he could be the clear cut best player on the floor and a threat each trip he makes on the offensive end.
CODY BURKEY, CARROLL
Averaging 5.7 points per game, Burkey is a threat in the fact that he doesn’t have to be versatile. So many of the other Carroll players have to do a little bit of everything and while Burkey is capable of being more than “just a shooter,” he doesn’t have to be a lot of the time. It allows him to be a little quieter and a little sneakier, but once he warms up you will see him clearly. He has 24 made three pointers and has hit three or more threes in 5 of Carroll’s 14 games.
JADE MOORE, SNIDER
He has played four varsity games and made an impact each time. Averaging 8.5 points per game, two times he has reached double figures and despite a varsity career low 5 points against Churubusco this week, his impact was great and not just only for his game winning buzzer beater. Moore gives Snider depth inside and with his size and physicality; his defense was critical in forcing two final minute turnovers in Tuesday’s win.
RAY VOLLMER, CARROLL
Face it, Vollmer was the star of Carroll’s SAC Holiday Tournament win. He is all effort, all of the time but his offensive flurry in that game was the most impactful. If Vollmer gets comfortable offensively, it makes Carroll so much better. He is also averaging six points per game and outside of his 21 point SAC Tournament final outing, he hasn’t scored more than nine points in any other single game. So if Vollmer scores, he’s a major impact but if he doesn’t score, what else he does in all of the other intangible areas, that he has always provided, is also crucial to Carroll’s success or failure.
KEYS TO VICTORY – SNIDER
1. DON’T ALLOW LEAK OUTS
Snider has mostly corrected this, but 2019’s start of this season saw them very susseptuble to seeing opposing players leak out after a Snider basket to get a quick hit pass and score on the other end. It hurt them in a loss to Wayne and killed them in a loss to this Carroll team. While it has been mostly corrected in 2020, the Panthers need to stay sharp and get back on defense to prevent these easy scores.
2. REBOUND THE BASKETBALL
The rebound difference in their first game was significant. That isn’t great news when you realize that Snider has struggled a little against post players – when you look on the surface – this week despite being 2-0. They beat DeKalb on the glass 33-22, only trailed 32-28 to Churubusco in rebounds and are currently averaging two rebounds per game more than Carroll. This has to be an all hands on deck approach from Dillon Duff, Isaac Farnsworth, Michael Eley and the addition of Jade Moore.
KEYS TO VICTORY – CARROLL
1. MIX IT UP
In the first game against Snider, the Chargers had six scorers and seven contributors. The Panthers have always boasted their depth, so you have to be deep too and everyone needs to do something. The Chargers also have the benefit that you can get offensive help in a lot of ways. Beyond the aforementioned Vollmer and Burkey, leading scorer Jalen Jackson is clearly capable of scoring big (he had 20 in the win over Snider) while Richie Gross, Ryan Preston and Sam Strycker can also fill it up when needed.
2. GET PHYSICAL, MAKE SNIDER MATCH YOU
Carroll does a great job on making things aggressive and physical. So do that and make Snider meet you there instead of getting into the Panthers’ up and down game. Ray Vollmer, Sam Strycker and Richie Gross are your brutes up and down the court, thriving in the half court game where they can make life difficult. If you are Carroll, do that and see if Snider can match you.
Can we acknowledge that, because of many factors, this is probably our best rivalry in the SAC this season? This is another game that could come down to so many factors that predicting it makes it hard, but isn’t that why its our Game of the Weekend? Momentum is big here and you’d think that all goes in Carroll’s favor because of the previous win. But with how Snider has been winning and the energy in and around that program right now, how do you not see momentum their way? Bounce picks Snider