Boys Basketball: Lincoln-Way East embraces team concept
The season-ending loss to Marian Catholic in a regional semifinal was tough enough for Lincoln-Way East.
It wasn’t just a loss for the Griffins, though, as starting point guard Luke Lizen went down with an injury, an ACL tear.
While working through the offseason in prepping for the 2013-14 campaign, Lincoln-Way East and coach Rich Kolimas has seen his team embrace the spotlight — not one player, but a different player every game.
“Luke has had surgery, and we hope to have him back for the school year,” Kolimas said. “We’ll be happy to have him back, but it has been different kids on different nights. On a given night, it is a different guy (stepping up).”
Kolimas is the only coach Lincoln-Way East has known, coaching the program since the school opened in 2001, accumulating a 166-157 record over his 12-year career on the sideline. The Griffins are coming off a 10-17 season in 2012-13, the second-fewest wins total under Kolimas.
The Griffins take a hit from last season’s squad, losing leading scorer Chris DeRubertis (10.5 points per game), 6-foot-8 Jon Junkroski (5.2 rebounds) and three-point specialist Eric Spudic (30 three-pointers made).
East also will have to deal with the loss of 6-foot-5 senior-to-be Isaiah Wood, who transferred to four-time defending Class 4A state champ Simeon.
“Summer is really about individual skill improvement,” Kolimas said at the recent the Stagg Shootout. “We hadn’t had camp yet (when East played at Stagg), and we’re sharing athletes with football so we came to this tournament to just get a little game experience. Hopefully, we will see that improvement with individual skills.”
With the opportunity to step up and leave a lasting impression on the coaches, Kolimas has been impressed with what he has seen in limited action from his players.
Senior-to-be Tommy DiNaso has embraced a leadership role, while three juniors-to-be — Jackson Bax, Matt Hayes and Clint Nooner — similarly have played well for the Griffins.
Bax has taken over the point with Lizen out for the offseason.
“Tommy has been one of our most consistent players, and he’s really been a leader for us on this team,” Kolimas said. “Clint, our big guy, may not be a big guy (6-foot-3) for a lot of programs, but he’s coming along nicely and playing well. The same for Jackson who has played the point and played well for us.”