Coach lives up to the hype

By Joe Henricksen

There is never a shortage of hype these days surrounding high school basketball players. It (the hype) starts

earlier and earlier, it seems, every year. Whether they deserve it or not, prep freshmen are hyped to the max. What

people forget or just tend to ignore is that Derrick Roses and Corey Maggettes and Jereme Richmonds–three

examples of players who were hyped as freshmen and clearly lived up to the hype, both in how they played on the

floor and carried themselves off of it–are far from the norm. Yet people continue to hype and praise young

prospects and put them in a category that isn’t quite deserving.

The hype is rarely extended to high school coaches. Quite frankly, it’s just not as sexy or exciting to hype coaches.

Last year the City/Suburban Hoops Report labeled Peoria Richwoods coach Mike Ellis as the “Best Young Coach in

Illinois.” After watching Peoria Richwoods beat Chicago Curie at Chicago State Saturday night, Ellis continues to live

up to the Hoops Report hype bestowed upon him.

The 37-year-old Ellis, now in his fifth year, has had success. A lot of it. His 2005-2006 team surprised many en

route to the state championship game, where they nearly pulled off a shocker over Simeon before losing the title

game in OT. Last season Richwoods reached the Sweet 16. Now this year his young, inexperienced team is 5-1

and fresh off an impressive win over upstart Curie in Chicago Saturday night.

But aside from the 92-35 career mark and state tournament success, you can’t help but notice the fine job Ellis does

when watching his teams play. Saturday was another perfect example. This is a team featuring six sophomores.

Sure, they make some mistakes that all young, inexperienced teams do. But the gameplan and execution against a

talented Curie team was a thing of beauty. They spaced the floor well against Curie’s quickness and defensive

traps, both against the zone and within their motion against man-to-man, something you just don’t get young players

to understand. They rotated and moved the ball well. And Ellis did a masterful job of mixing up the defenses thrown

at Curie. You watch Richwoods play and walk away saying “that’s a well-coached team.” And you say that from

year to year, game to game.

If you are going to get Richwoods, this is the year to do it. Ellis will have junior Jontell Lindsay back next year as

well as a group of six or seven sophomores, led by guards Aaron Davis and Tylon Deal, for the next two years.

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