Boys Basketball: Oak Lawn ready to take a good turn
Telling his team’s record from the 2012-13 season, Oak Lawn basketball coach Jason Rhodes did not stammer.
“We were 7-20 ... not good.”
In prepping for the summer season, Rhodes wanted to switch things up. A lot.
“I told the guys ‘Let’s get some stuff done this summer,’ ” Rhodes said. “We’re not going to just play games. We are going to work on goals and work toward things.”
Oak Lawn participated in the two-day Stagg Shootout earlier in the month, putting that new mind-set on display. Rather than just running up and down the court playing one-on-one, the Spartans are focusing on more team aspects of the game: fewer turnovers, more transition buckets, no easy shots.
“We have specific goals each game like looking to take care of the ball, 10 turnovers or less,” Rhodes said. “We want this many baskets in transition, we want to contest every shot, and we try to give the kids feedback on each thing.”
From the players’ perspective, the more intense, game-focused atmosphere has been worth it, especially if it pays off during the regular season.
“We’re playing hard and working hard,” senior-to-be Ibrahim Samra said. “We’re looking at it as it’s all about practice and helping us in the future. The turnovers, the fast breaks, it’s all about contending with bigger and better teams.”
Samra is one of several players who has impressed Rhodes through the summer’s early goings.
“Ibrahim was a bit of a surprise as a junior,” Rhodes said. “He doesn’t jump out at you athletically, but he works hard, can handle the ball and can shoot. He can definitely make an impact.”
Losing leading scorer and rebounder Shawn Cannon (13 points, 7.6 rebounds per game), the Spartans will need returning players and newcomers to step up.
Justin Schutt and DeQwon McGowan have played well for Oak Lawn in the backcourt, with senior David Stacy also impressing.
Samra, who is eager to embrace a bigger role as a senior, is psyched for the summer opportunity.
“For me, I’m trying to improve bringing the ball up,” Samra said. “We have to make sure the team is poised and keep on working at it.”
As for the shakeup in the summer mentality, Rhodes hopes the different mind-set rolls over to the regular season come November.
“It’s the core values we’re looking for,” Rhodes said. “The guys have responded well, and it gives us a chance to look at a different rotation, a different lineup, as we try to reach the players.”