Earning the 'black shirt' keeps Warren's players motivated
During the tough times this season, the "black shirt" has kept the Warren boys basketball team motivated.
The shirt is a badge of honor, so to speak.
"It's like Nebraska in football, we award a "black shirt" to our best defender each week," Warren coach Jon Jasnoch said. "We have struggled a lot this season. We are 8-14. We have had more downs than ups.
"But our defense is a strength and when we're all on the same page, we can be very tough defensively. Our guys take pride in defense and they want that "black shirt."
The winner of the "black shirt" has more defensive hustle points than any other player for that particular week. Hustle points are tracked by the team statisticians in categories such as forcing 5-second counts, getting to 50-50 balls, charges, deflections and other forced turnovers.
Since the Blue Devils wear their school colors during practice in blue and gold reversible jerseys, the "black shirted" player stands out, and that's a distinction that is coveted.
"The guys take a lot of pride in that," Jasnoch said. "And they take the process of deciding who is going to get it very seriously. The guys vote on it each week, and you'd think that could devolve into a popularity contest but it doesn't. We have a play-hard chart with all those (hustle) categories and the guys base the black shirt on that."
Jasnoch says that the "black shirt" has been spread throughout the team this season, which is a testament to the widespread commitment to defense. But Juan De la Cruz, Josh Langevin and Breyton Caruthers have probably won the award the most.
"I don't think anyone has won it more than three times though," Jasnoch said. "It's bounced around a lot. We've got a lot of guys who play good defense, including guys off the bench."
Small ball: More shooters on the floor could provide more points.
At least that's the logic Carmel coach Zack Ryan used when trying to figure out how his team could score more.
"We were averaging around 50 points per game early in the season," Ryan said. "And in our last few games, we've had 79, 65, 76, 70, 69 and 81 points. Lately, we have really been shooting the ball well."
Ryan attributes the change to a smaller guard-oriented lineup that features strong perimeter shooters. Only one starter is taller than 6-feet and 6-foot-3 Bryce Moore has got a sharp eye, too.
"It's hard for a team to guard us," Ryan said. "We're small, but we can shoot and we space the floor really well. When we're hitting shots, it's tough to guard us."
Moore has had a 31-point game that included four 3-pointers, Joey Halaburt has had a game with three 3-pointers and junior point guard Kimahri Wilson, the Corsairs' leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, is always a threat to put the ball in the basket.
"We were really struggling at times early in the season with our offense," Ryan said. "We had 30-point games, we just weren't making shots. But this small lineup has worked."