We believe that even the best basketball teams in the area all have something to improve on.
So while normal folks are deciding whether or not to go to the gym or have that extra piece of brownie maybe that’s just me), teams use this mini break to really themselves to set themselves up for success in the second half of the season.
Note this is just a select few teams. Obviously there are plenty of other teams from the area that could easily qualify for this list, but we had to cut it somewhere.
Keep the foot on the gas
Simeon is far and away the best team in the state of Illinois right now, and it’s really not even that close.
I don’t expect the Wolverines to to lose to anybody within state borders, but that doesn’t mean that they can skate by on talent alone. Many people have said this is the most wide open class 4A has been in a long time, and even the great Simeon is not immune to having a head scratching loss down the road.
Win the city
I don’t want to say the 2A state title is a given for Orr, but it is really difficult to find a team who has the capability to knock out Orr in the 2A state tournament.
We’ve already seen that Orr is more than capable to knock off Whitney Young, Curie, Lincoln Park and Uplift. The biggest challenge for Orr will be knocking off Simeon in the city playoffs and prove that a smaller school can knock off the city giants.
Pass more and get to the basket
This can be taken in a few different ways for Niles North. First the Vikings should be getting to the rim way more than they shoot the three. The return of Jamal Stephenson greatly helps Niles North’s outside shooting, but they are still a much better slashing team.
In defense of Niles North, the Vikings did a much better job in their games against Prospect and Libertyville of sharing the basketball, but they do tend to play a lot of hero ball if things aren’t going their way early.
If Niles North continues to move the ball while not letting offense remain stagnant, the Vikings will be really tough to beat, especially with the three headed monster of Stephenson, Damaria Franklin and Dravon Clayborn.
Not so much a resolution as it is wishful thinking.
Morgan Park is still a very good basketball team, there’s no denying that. Yes they may have a few more loses this season than they’re accustomed to, but a lot of that is due to extraneous circumstances.
The Mustangs will be just fine. They may struggle in conference and the city championship, but they are still a force to be reckoned with in class 3A.
Lincoln Park has thrived this season playing the role as the underdog, but the Lions are on everybody’s map now with their top-10 rankings.
Playing with high expectations is a completely different animal than flying under the radar (just as Niles North). Lincoln Park has proven themselves enough to deserve their high ranking, but can they continue to win games in the Red North-West when everybody will be gunning for them now?
Have Griffin Ryan more involved in the offense
Having seen the Trevians play on three separate occasions this year, they looked their best when Griffin Ryan was a heavy part of their offensive plan.
Sure, New Trier has offensive options in Spencer Boehm, Cirian Brayboy and Andrew Kirkpatrick but Ryan offers an unique inside out presence that only he and Boehm to an extent can provide.
Get on the same page
I have no clue what is going on up in Waukegan. What should have been a year of unlimited potential with the three Browns as upperclassmen, has turned into a nightmare start for the Bulldogs.
I’m not going to pretend to know what is going on internally at Waukegan, but if there are problems up north, they need to be solved ASAP. Bryant, Ja’Dyn and Jordan Brown are as talented as any trio in the suburbs, but their 8-5 record does not represent that.
Do everything possible to help Ryan Davis win player of the year
With respect to Ben Schols and the rest of the team, Conant will go as far as Ryan Davis will take them. Averaging over 25 points and 10 rebounds per game, Davis looks like he should be playing for Duke instead of Vermont.
Conant is playing in a wide open sectional, and Davis needs to continue to make his case for player of the year if Conant want to challenge for a sectional, or even super sectional title.
Develop some depth and let Lance Mosely loose
DePaul has an extremely solid starting five with Perry Cowan leading the charge. Where DePaul gets into trouble is if they have to go too deep into their bench. The Rams have a couple of intriguing freshman in Tyler Johnson and Cam Lewis, but it’s Lance Mosely who could be the X-factor for DePaul.
The sophomore Mosely has the look of someone with a very high ceiling, but he hasn’t quite been able to put it together this season. With defenses keying in on Cowan and Raheem Anthony, someone will need to shoulder some of the scoring load.
Growth from the young kids
We’ve already seen really good production from Blake Peters and Lance Jones, Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost have all lived up to expectations.
The Wildkits have also received an invaluable boost from senior Matt Hall, but they seem like they are one more piece away (or a Lance Jones jump shot) from catching the likes of Niles North, Waukegan, and Conant.
If one of the other three freshman (Elijah Bull, Jaylin Gibson and Isaiah Holden) take a step forward in the second half of the season, Evanston will be an even tougher out then they are already.