- Hospitals lift visitor age restrictions as number of flu cases decreases
- Winnebago County sheriff names chief deputy
- URGENT: Four votes and we could lose on Keystone
- Guest Column: Housing Authority CEO: Time to unify behind quality living
- Rockford police investigate 17th Street murder
- Clean water under attack in the U.S. Congress
- Man faces charges following attempted armed robbery
- Discovery Center experiences record public attendance
- Pet Talk: Probiotics for your pets
- Illinois home prices climb 3.7 percent in December
New-look J-Hawks have familiar feel
By Matt Nestor
The Jefferson J-Hawks were easy to figure out last season, even though they were nearly impossible to stop. You knew going in that they would play 11 interchangeable players and eventually wear you down.
Unfortunately for the J-Hawks, most of those players were seniors.
On paper, the J-Hawks look like an experienced team boasting 10 seniors, many of whom will play. But among those, Mike Chisamore and Davontay Lewis are the only ones who have extensive varsity experience.
Head Coach Todd Brannan expects his team to be very deep again and look very similar to last year’s team in a lot of ways. But the lack of experience could also make his job tougher this year.
“We will certainly rely on Chisamore and Lewis,” Brannan said. “They’re our seniors, and they’ve given us great leadership. We feel like we can come through with the scoring that we lost, but the leadership and the experience that we lost, that’s a big thing to replace. But those two have really stepped up, and we have a group of kids that has worked really hard.”
One way the J-Hawks will look different is with their size. Chisamore is 6 feet 5 inches and has added bulk. He will be joined by Casey Boyd, Jared Mayes and Xaiver Butler to form a much deeper and taller front line than they have had in the past.
“We might be a little bit different because we have a little more size than we have had and not quite the quickness,” Brannan said. “I think we have a little more length and size. I think people will see a different style, but hopefully we’ll be just as effective.”
Another reason for optimism is the development of several players. Brannan said senior Nikko Guess is the most improved player in the program and senior Dez Agee has looked good in practice.
Another key will be junior L.T. Davis. Davis came up at the end of the season as a sophomore because of injuries and had several very big games. He looks poised for a break-out season.
But while several players are showing great improvement, Brannan said they will lean much more on their best players than they have in the past. Last season, anyone could score on any play. This season, they will look to feed their seniors.
“We need to get our best kids a lot of shots,” he said. “We want to run when the opportunity is there. We also have to be smart, and we’re going to rely a little more on execution in the half court.”
From the Nov. 24-30, 2010 issue