When viewing his roster each season, Rock Island boys' basketball coach Thom Sigel talks about having players who understand their roles.|
Rob Johnson is one of those players.
"Hard work, dedication and leadership," the Rocky senior forward said of his role.
Those three make Johnson indispensable.
"He's got a great attitude," Sigel said. "All his teammates love him. He's such a great example for our program."
A quiet leader with a blue-collar work ethic, Johnson sets a positive tone each time the Rocks take the floor. The numbers inside the box score may not tell the whole story of Johnson's value, but all those things he does away from the basket set him apart.
"We have good balance, but only one guy is going to shoot on a possession," Sigel said. "We have to have guys do the other little things. We have a lot of guys who do that, but Rob epitomizes that. He's going to do whatever."
In his mind, he will do whatever it takes to reach his ultimate goal.
"I just want to win," Johnson said.
So his role means scoring takes a back seat so he can rebound, set screens and provide quality minutes in his starting role.
"I want to make the most of my minutes and work hard," Johnson said. "When I get in, I want to make the most of it."
One game shows how good Johnson can be. In a 62-44 win over Minooka last Saturday, Johnson tallied a season-high nine points and a game-best 10 rebounds, including two on the offensive end. He finished 3 of 5 from the floor and converted all three foul shots. Healso added two blocks and an assist.
"He can do those things," Sigel said. "He just keeps coming and doing what he's supposed to do."
That comes from knowing his role.The 6-foot-3 forward constantly plays within himself, taking shots when he needs to take them and handling the ball when necessary.
Over the years, Sigel has seen players such as Johnson come through his program, especially during his state title runs. In order to be successful, teams need role players.
Sigel remembers Herb Martin on Rock Falls' 1999 Class A state title team, a player who told his teammates they can shoot the ball and he can go rebound. Two years ago, Devon Jones was what Sigel recalls as a glue-type player. Jones was an under-the-radar defender who always was the Rocks' top inbounder on the Class 3A state championship team.
Both players' value was not necessarily scoring points. However, they provided them in key situations.
Through six games this season, Johnson is developing into that player every team needs, averaging 4.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
"You ask (the team) what Rob brings," Sigel said, "they appreciate everything he does."
Told that, the normally stoic Johnson offers a slight smile.
"This make me feel good," Johnson said. "My hard work is paying off."
In each game this season, the effort and results have been there.
"Rob's the guy who is trying to do the right things," Sigel said. "What else can you ask from a player?"
All Sigel asks of his players is to understand their roles. Johnson clearly knows his.
"Our team would notice if he's not there," Sigel said. "That's what's nice about him."
Metro boys' basketball writer Daniel Makarewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @danmak57
School W-L Conf.
Rock Island 6-0 1-0
Quincy 4-1 1-0
Galesburg 4-3 1-0
Moline 3-3 0-1
Alleman 2-3 0-1
UTHS 1-6 0-1
Tonight's games (all 7:30)
Moline at Alleman (Carver Center)
Rock Island at United Township
Galesburg at Quincy
Rock island, IL Details
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