Bob Widlowski is showing that it's never too late to try something new.
Widlowski, in his 18th year as Fremd's boys basketball head coach, has completely changed his offense this year. And that's coming on the heels of the most successful season in school history, with the Vikings winning 31 games and finishing fourth in the state.
"This is a fresh start and a new team," said Widlowski, who graduated four starters from last year's squad. "The guys are doing a good job of filling their roles."
The Vikings are are filling up the win column as well, improving to 6-1 this year after Fremd pulled away from Hersey 60-45 on Tuesday in Arlington Heights.
"We are running the new stuff and hopefully getting better from here," Widlowski said. "We still have a lot of work to do."
Ryan Martin, the lone starter back from last season, said he and his teammates have adjusted quite well to the new offense.
"We like to spread the floor out because all five of us can shoot it," said Martin, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. "We can shoot the 3 better. But as long as it is inside-out, it is OK."
While the offense is beginning to catch on, it was good old-fashioned defense, Fremd-style, that turned the tide for the Vikings.
"I thought we played very well defensively, especially in the second half," Widlowski said. "I thought we limited their looks in the second half."
Fremd led just 28-27 at the half. But the Vikings allowed only 7 Hersey field goals in the second half.
"I think they wore us down with their offense, with their screens," Hersey coach Steve Messer said. "Our offense, we stopped screening and getting openings and taking it hard to the basket. They took it hard to the basket. That's how it got away."
Fremd did just that with Martin and junior Bryce Hopkins leading the charge in the second half.
Fremd led 34-33 midway through the third quarter when the Vikings put the clamps on Hersey at both ends of the court. Fremd went on a 17-4 run, starting it and finishing it with 7 unanswered points. That enabled Fremd to blow it open with a 51-37 lead with just over six minutes to play.
"Coach Widlowski told me last year that I would have more of a role this year," said Hopkins, who finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. "I knew I could step up once the season started. I am going to fulfill my role just doing everything, playing all five positions."
Fremd also got scoring from Luke Seidel (7 points). Isaiah Turner and Jake Schoffstall both canned a pair of 3s to finish with 6 points and John Smyros had 5 points.
Hersey (2-4) had 10 different players score. Rocco Ronzio led that group with 7 points while Belford Davis had 6 points and Will Nagle with 5 points.
"I liked our cutting, our passing and the way we handled ourselves," Messer said. "We are a better team today than we were even last week. But we were not good enough to beat Fremd yet -- and not good enough to play four quarters."