South Elgin Storm
Last year: 5-23, 0-12 Upstate Eight Valley (7th)
Coach: Matt Petersen, first season
Top returnees: seniors Matt McClure (5-9, G), Darius Wells (5-9, G); sophomores Tyler Hankins (6-8, C), Justin Howard (5-7, G), Matt Smith (5-10, G)
Top newcomers: senior Shpend Mahmudi (6-1, G); junior Jared Genz (6-1, C); sophomore Julian Lynch (6-1, F); freshman Logan Atkins (6-0, G)
Outlook: New Storm coach Matt Petersen's system is "a complete 180" from the patient, methodical offenses South Elgin has used in past years, he said. The first-year coach says his scheme is designed to attack defenses and create opportunities rather than wait for a shot. Petersen admits there will be growing pains as players adjust to an antithetical system and a new mindset. "We're trying to change this into a winning culture and I believe that has started already," Petersen said. "There is going to come a time this season when we face a good team and we're going to struggle. How we respond will determine the path of this team. If we continue to battle and persevere through it, we'll be a good team that competes in our conference. If it goes the other way and we revert to our losing ways, we'll spend the year fighting that culture." South Elgin is led by two-time All-Area pick Darius Wells, who last year was lost to a foot injury after 11 games. He was averaging 13.5 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals at the time. Wells has been cleared to play, but the injury still causes some discomfort and will have to be monitored all season, Petersen said. Another key cog will be senior shooting guard Matt McClure, South Elgin's third-leading scorer at 8.5 ppg. McClure buried 32 of 97 shots from 3-point range (33 percent). Also returning is sophomore guard Matt Smith. As a freshman he averaged 9.3 points and 1.7 assists per game and sank 12 of 39 3-point attempts. Smith isn't the only underclassman prepared to contribute. The varsity roster is made up of six seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and freshman guard Logan Atkins, a player Petersen called "really skilled." Atkins will play spot minutes at small forward, according to his coach. Justin Howard and Tyler Hankins got a taste of varsity basketball when both were called up late last season. Hankins (6-8) won't be planted on the low-block in Petersen's active offense. In fact, no member of the Storm will stay put for long. "We should be able to move him around and use him on the perimeter to get him some touches," Petersen said.