Sunday, January 21, 2007

Conant more than just a surprise

POINT #1 .... There haven't been too many weekends for individual teams that match what Conant did on Friday and Saturday night. The Cougars had everything to prove in matchups with Schaumburg and highly-ranked St. Joseph. First, Conant needed to prove it had the premier team in the Mid-Suburban League. They did just that with a win over Schaumburg, a team they lost to early in the season. Then they went and showed they can play with the state's elite, beating St. Joe's.

While Conant relies heavily on its own style of play, which includes a patient offense and a tough-as-nails defense that holds opponent's shooting percentage and points down, this is still a different team than even the one prior to the holidays. The biggest reason is the play of 6-4 Geoff McCammon, who has blossomed into a true difference-maker. In addition to being a force on the glass, McCammon's offense has been a huge boost. He has shown the ability to absolutely take over games and dominate. Senior Eric Loos has settled into his role as sixth man and flourished, providing another offensive threat off the bench and on the perimeter.

Conant is more than a surprise or rising contender. The Hoops Report loved the look of this team this summer. Conant was ranked among the Top 25 teams in the Hoops Report preseason poll. They have impressive non-conference wins over Thornton and St. Joseph, while also winning the York Holiday Tournament. This team is senior-dominated and will be battling Lake Park for the top seed in the Elgin Sectional.

POINT #2 .... Oak Park has taken control of what was supposed to be the most competitive conference this side of the SICA East. With a win over Proviso West and a pesky Lyons Twp. this past weekend, junior star Iman Shumpert and Oak Park find themselves alone at the top of the West Suburban Silver standings.

There wasn't a coach in the league that felt one team would run away with the league title when the season began. Last year the league champ, York, had four losses. A similar scenario was expected this year. While there is still plenty of basketball to be played, Oak Park is unbeaten in conference play and looks like it may be on the verge of doing what no one thought--dominate the conference. At this point the Hoops Report would be shocked to see Oak Park lose more than two conference games.

POINT #3 .... Yes, the Simeon battle with Oak Hill Academy was hyped as the Game of the Year. And yes, Simeon and Derrick Rose did put on a show at UIC in stunning what amounts to an all-star team in Oak Hill. But the juices just don't get flowing for the Hoops Report when a showdown involves an out-of-state team. It was fun. It was exciting. It was great exposure for the Chicago Public League and the state of Illinois. And it's great to see Oak Hill, which has 50 states it can recruit from, lose. Nonetheless, the hype doesn't come anywhere close to when two top powers from Illinois collide.

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Jim said...

Great point! Simeon/Oak Hill felt like a random college game you'd find any given night on ESPN.

Dick McD said...

hi Joe - the West Suburban Silver got just a little tighter tonight.
Glenbard West wins at Oak Park, 57-52. Shurna and Venson were the reasons for the nice road victory.
Oak Park is still in the driver's seat.
dick mcd