Hoops is here! But football playing a toll for top teams

By Joe Henricksen

With the start of high school basketball practices officially starting around the state Monday, there are several

teams that will be ranked among the top 25 in the City/Suburban Hoops Report preseason rankings that are directly

affected by football. There is no team that will be more shorthanded at the start of practice than Homewood-


The Vikings, led by point guard Kevin Dillard, figure to be one of the top teams in the south suburbs and the state

this winter. But coach James McLaughlin will have a near-empty gym on Monday. H-F’s football team advanced to

the state quarterfinals with a win Friday night over Andrew. While Dillard will be at practice, three other returning

starters — Supo Sanni, Russell Ellington and Mike Buchanan — are all still playing football. Dorian Reese and

Dominique Harvey, two other expected contributors, are also on the football team. The most McLaughlin can hope

for is for his players to stay healthy.

Last season H-F started very slowly with several players suffering nagging injuries and slow to get their basketball

legs back. The Vikings started the season 4-6 but found its groove and had a solid second half of the season. You

better believe it’s going to take some time for H-F to get back in sync. The Vikings always play one of the tougher

schedules, including a trip to the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in late December.

Coach Mike Flaherty’s Mt. Carmel Caravan return virtually everyone from last year’s team and is expected to

challenge in the Catholic League South. But when you coach at Mt. Carmel you can expect to be missing players

when practices begin in November due to the football team’s advancement in the state playoffs. Steve Filer, a Notre

Dame recruit in football, is a leader, enforcer, rebounder, defender and key component for the Caravan on the

hardwood. It could be late November before Filer is even on the floor for Flaherty.

Richards, fresh off terrific back-to-back seasons, is yet another top basketball team that will be heavily impacted by

the success of the football team. A pair of starters, Tommie Thomas and 6-7 Shaun Pratl, are still playing football

and will likely be out for a few weeks as Richards’ football team is the No. 1 seed and expected to advance deep

into the playoffs. DeLaSalle is poised for a breakout year but may also have a slow start as it awaits the return of

football and basketball standout Elliott Brown. The Meteors advanced to the state quarterfinals as well, which

means basketball coach Tom White will be without Brown for at least the opening week of practice.

Neuqua Valley, a favorite in the Upstate Eight Conference this winter, may have been brought back to the rest

of the pack due to injuries. Several players have suffered injuries from football, including versatile T.J. Jordan and

guard Anton Wilkins, two of Neuqua’s top players. Jordan’s prognosis for the year is still up in the air after he

played much of the football season with torn cartilage in his knee. In a non-football injury, yet still a very costly one,

promising sophomore Dwayne Evans is rehabbing from an ACL injury he suffered two weeks ago. Evans, one of

the top 20 sophomores in the most recent Hoops Report Class of 2010 rankings, is trying to avoid surgery through

rehab. Even coach Todd Sutton’s son, junior guard Drew Sutton, has been hit by the injury bug. He has a sprained

ligament in his foot and is out 2-8 weeks.

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