East has high hoops hopes

East's JV Henderson looks to set up the E-Rabs' offense during the Rock Valley Summer League. East is hoping to build on their summer success for next season. Photo by Matt Nestor

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

The Rock Valley Summer League is by no means a measure for future success. But it is a good barometer for what to expect in the coming season.

And using that theory, the East E-Rabs should be much improved next season.

While it will probably be unrealistic to expect them to compete for a conference crown, the E-Rabs should be much better than last year, when they patrolled the bottom of the conference.

Last season, East relied heavily on sophomores and freshmen for much of their production, and struggled as a result. But that experience looks to be paying off as several of the young players looked to have greatly improved their games.

Point guard JV Henderson looks poised to be a breakout player in the area this year. Last year, while he showed good athleticism and was cool under pressure, missed shots and turnovers plagued much of his season.

Henderson looks to have improved, however, on his already great athleticism. On top of all that, he is consistently knocking down the 3-point shot and has shown a knack for finding open players, even if they don’t know they are open.

Also for the E-Rabs, big man Steve McNease looks to be getting much better. He likes to shoot from the outside, but his shot is getting better, which could make him a real threat against teams with size, where he can pull big men out of the lane and allow Henderson to operate.

Other notes from the Summer League:

→ While East is improving, it could be a long year for Jefferson, Harlem and Belvidere North. While there are obvious player absentees for each team, all three have struggled against Class A competition, not usually a good indicator for success in what could be a rugged NIC-10.

→ While the Blue Thunder have strugggled defensively, they have looked crisp on offense. They execute well and have no problem getting out and running.

→ Despite missing four players who will play big roles in the upcoming season, Auburn rolled to finish off the league undefeated and will head into this week’s tournament as the top seed. The reason being is Fred Van Vleet is far and away the leader for Conference Player of the Year next year. His play is so smooth, it almost looks as though he is not trying. But just when you think he’s taking it easy, he whips a pass right past someone’s head, drives the lane, steals the ball or hits a three.

From the July 14-20, 2010 issue

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