By Phil Brozynski
Sitting in a red plastic seat in the stands at Saint Xavier University watching the finals of the Brother Rice Smack Attack between St. Francis and Marist on Saturday, one could not help but agree with the assessment of a nearby spectator.
“They need to play the boys’ state tournament here, or at least a place just like it,” the spectator said. “I heard they’ve been talking about the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, but that facility is probably too big.
“Nothing against Hoffman Estates High School,” he added. “They do a nice job. But the atmosphere here is so much better. It’s a college arena. No matter what they do, Hoffman Estates is still a high school gym.”
The boys state volleyball tournament does deserve a facility like the Shannon Center at Saint Xavier.
The Shannon Center has been the site of some recent supersectionals in basketball, including the girls classic this winter between (Chicago) Whitney Young and (Chicago Heights) Marian Catholic, won by Young on a 25-footer at the buzzer.
It is not a cavernous facility, like Redbird Arena at Illinois State University can become when only a few hundred fans attend Saturday’s third-place games (no students because they are already excused from school, and playing for third is not quite playing for first).
But the Shannon Center still has that college “feel.” All the way up to the vegetarian concession stand with the power juice drinks. But those can easily be replaced with popcorn poppers and pretzel ovens.
Meanwhile, give Brother Rice coach Br. Paul Ickes credit for undertaking an ambitious plan in putting together Smack Attack. Hopefully, the tournament will grow and prosper in the next few years.
The logistics certainly are more convenient than say, the Nike Challenge girls tournament, which involves some vehicular use to get from site to site.
Congratulations to Dan Dierking and Victor Lei of Naperville Central and Miguel Calvillo and Ryan Kristensen of Naperville North, who committed to play next year for St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
The 6-foot-5 Dierking was a pre-season Sun-Times top 50 player before suffering a knee injury the first weekend of the season.
Finally, as much as one would like to be, you can’t be everywhere all the time. So while I have to apologize for not having the results from Minooka and Downers North reflected in this week’s rankings, those results were never called in.
So Hinsdale Central remained at No. 5 despite a loss to Neuqua Valley, and Glenbard East should be 17-0 instead of 12-0.
Sorry, again. Coaches can e-mail results to firstname.lastname@example.org.