Prospect, Elk Grove excited to get going again
It will be like a start to a second season Friday at both Prospect and Elk Grove.
Both varsity boys basketball programs have been shut down from in-person practice and all games for the last 10 days due to COVID-19 protocols. They resumed practice on Wednesday and will be in action Friday as Prospect plays Wheeling while Elk Grove will play Buffalo Grove.
It was difficult for both teams to have to start and then come to near a complete stop. Prospect has played only two games thus far while Elk Grove just one.
"It was disheartening," Elk Grove coach Nick Oraham said. "The kids felt like they let each other down. They are just kids and were being kids, cannot fault them for that. We are glad that everyone escaped this situation without serious illness."
Prospect coach John Camardella took the opportunity for a teaching lesson for his team.
"I have always tried to see obstacles as opportunities and share that sentiment daily with our players," Camardella said. "We are obviously all disappointed and frustrated, but if you channel these emotions correctly, sort of like electricity, great things can happen."
Camardella took this opportunity a step further. With only six of his players not affected allowed to come into the gym for shootarounds, Camardella scheduled Zoom calls with his team.
But instead of just film and chalkboard sessions, Camardella invited former Prospect stars Matt Szuba, Mike LaTulip and David Swedura to speak to his team.
"If we hadn't been shut down this past week, these guys would never have been able to hear from Matt Szuba, Mike LaTulip and David Swedura," Camardella said. "Who knows? The messages and advice from these alums might just be what some of these varsity guys need to take the next step on and off the court."
At Prospect, the Knights had four games canceled. All attempts will be made to make those games up.
Elk Grove, which had five games canceled, will make up its three conference games. They won't make up the two nonconference games against those scheduled opponents. The Grenadiers have added Maine West to their schedule and are looking for another opponent.
Maine West also had a COVID-related shutdown, but it came early so the Warriors lost just one game. That game against Evanston will be made up.
We are just over two weeks into the boys basketball season, but it is already time to start thinking conference titles.
In the Mod-Suburban East, unbeaten Rolling Meadows (5-0, 4-0) travels to Hersey Friday night. Hersey (5-1, 4-0) has won five consecutive games.
In the MSL West, Fremd rides over to Barrington. Both teams are 4-0 overall and 4-0 in conference.
Hong making a difference at Barrington:
Bryan Tucker knew that his Barrington team would be the land of the giants with 6-foot-8 Nate Boldt, 6-6 Will Grudzinski and 6-5 Damian Zivak on the front line. But he was worried about who would get them the ball.
That all changed when Daniel Hong's family moved over from Conant this past summer.
"It gives us another piece," He is a nice player and a great kid."
Hong, who saw some time as a sophomore last season at Conant, has stepped quite nicely into the Barrington offense. He is averaging 8.5 points, 4,5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the Broncos' first four games.
"He is a talented player," Tucker said. "It is a nice prize and it was like Christmas morning when we found out that he was student here now that could play. He has come in and been in the league. These guys play together anyway."
Hong said that the transition has been smooth for him.
"It has been good," Hong, who is a 6-1 junior, said. "On the first day of summer camp, coach Tucker and his staff welcomed me with open arms. It has been a smooth transition and I am happy to call this my school now."
Transition time made easier:
In past years, players who play football need time to transition from playing football over to basketball.
That has been the case for Rolling Meadows' forward Daniel Sobkowicz. A star wide receiver on a very successful Meadows football team the past two seasons, it took a toll on Sobkowicz's basketball game.
Sobkowicz has averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds and has shot 53% from the field this season. He has also drawn the assignment of guarding the opponent's top player and has taken five charges.
"I train for both, now it is just basketball," said Sobkowicz, a 6-2 senior who has been a three-year player on the varsity basketball team.
"Now my shot is there, and I feel a lot better. I was banged up last year. My knee was hurt. COVID has been good for my basketball game."
Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said with football starting after basketball, Sobkowicz has been able to show his skills on the hardwood.
"This is how good Daniel Sobkowicz always is," Katovich said. "He is our best football player. So when we get him, he has been banged up. So this year, he is not banged up from football. We haven't got him until after Thanksgiving because our football team has been so successful. I am happy for him because he is getting to showcase just how good he is as a basketball player."