Amid the gossip that the Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball race is as dull as a grilled cheese sandwich, one early season storyline appears out of the spotlight.|
Some key players were given days to prepare for the season.
Alleman obviously missed almost half its roster for nearly three weeks because of its football team's run to the Class 4A state championship game, but that is not the whole story. Both Rock Island and United Township had players who started practice days -- even hours -- after the fall season concluded.
Need a reason why the start may seem slow, that could be one explanation.
"Very tough," said UT sophomore guard Ryan Merideth, who started basketball practice less than a week after his soccer season ended in the Class 2A super-sectional. "The first week and a half, it was a struggle. Coming from soccer to basketball, it's completely different. Basketball is much quicker. I had to get adjusted. It took time.
"I was struggling the first few weeks."
At least Merideth had five days to "relax and recover from the long (soccer) season" before basketball practice started.
Rocky's football season ended two days before the basketball preseason and the Pioneers were appearing in the state championship game hours after their basketball season opener.
"It was kind of like hopping into a cold pool," said Rocky junior guard Trey Sigel, a defensive back on the football team. "You had to be able to get into the drills and shake off the rust. It was a little bit of a wake-up call."
For a while, the wake-up call was brutal.
Going from one sport to the other seems like a seamless transition, but the conditioning level -- among other things -- takes an adjustment period. Further complicating the process are the expectations once they reach the basketball court.
"We do not take it easy on them. We get right after it," Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. "The only thing we had to do is take a day or so to rehash some of our sets. As far as conditioning and what we do, they had to catch up. It didn't take long for them to transition."
Next comes adjusting to the game.
"Practicing those four days, I found myself kicking (the ball) off my foot -- mistakes that are really frustrating," Alleman senior guard Adam Hoogerwerf said. "Once you're in the gym a few more days, that stuff starts coming back. It's more natural."
Hoogerwerf, a defensive back/running back on the football team, refuses to let the late basketball start be an excuse. No one involved in this process disagrees with that, but there are some limitations.
Considering the time commitment it takes to reach a championship level in soccer or football, opportunities to get on the court were limited.
"I'm still working on my shot," Merideth said. "It comes with time. It's the beginning of the season -- I'm still rusty. I'll be where I want to be pretty soon. I can't wait for that."
Some immediately found their shot. In his season opener, Sigel scored a career-high 27 points on eight-of-11 shooting from the field.
"It was one of those nights," Sigel said.
Now, it appears the consistency is back.
"All of us are use to our practices," Sigel said. "We're really getting into the full swing."
Those impacted by the late starts agree it was not ideal, but better days lie ahead.
Because of that, things could start getting interesting.
"All teams have obstacles they have to overcome," Hoogerwerf said. "Ours is having a late start. As the weeks go on, we'll keep gelling and get our legs back. It will all work out."
Metro boys' basketball writer Daniel Makarewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @danmak57
Big 6 boys' standings
School W-L Conf.
Rock Island 7-1 2-0
Quincy 6-1 2-0
Galesburg 4-4 1-1
Alleman 3-3 1-1
Moline 3-4 0-2
UTHS 1-8 0-2
Tonight's games (all 7:30)Quincy at Moline
Rock Island at Galesburg
United Township at Alleman
Milan, IL Details
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