By Joe Henricksen

Whitney Young quiets the critics

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By Joe Henricksen

Whether it's been fair or not, the Whitney Young basketball program has been judged by so many over the past two years. The critics must now stop. The Dolphins captured the Class 4A state championship Saturday night with a win over Waukegan and a huge weight was lifted off their shoulders.

The critics maybe now realize the plan all along was to be where the Dolphins stood on this March night -- as state champs. Those nine regular-season losses don't mean a whole lot when you're hoisting that big first-place trophy. No one is going to give a darn about that loss to Morton at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. So what if they didn't win the city title. Who cares where you're ranked in early December, Jan. 15 or the start of state tournament play. Slaughter wanted his team challenged and battle-tested for the state tournament. And playing the state's toughest schedule, which included 10 quality out-of-state opponents from coast to coast, did just that.

Slaughter also made some pivotal moves along the way that were instrumental. Despite an abundance of talent, he had to piece that talent together like a puzzle while keeping a lot of those players happy and on the same page. This could be the first state champ in history -- or at least in decades -- where a single player didn't average more than 10 points a game. And Slaughter did so while shortening his bench a bit and limiting minutes to a few players. He brought super talented sophomore Sam Thompson along slowly, nurturing the baby prospect to the point where he was a starter and major contributor by the end of the season.

When talking with Slaughter over the course of this season, he spoke of his program wanting to be where some of the other elite programs in the city and state have been. He kept a good balance between knowing it's still high school basketball while maintaining his program's own high expectations. He knew and accepted the challenge that to be considered an elite program the Dolphins had to bring home the same hardware the likes of Simeon, Marshall and North Lawndale have in recent years.

Whitney Young now has that coveted state championship, the first in the Slaughter era after coach George Stanton led the Dolphins to the 1998 state title behind a star-studded team led by Quentin Richardson.

Yes, Whitney Young does it a little differently. The schedule the Dolphins played was unprecedented. The academic side of it is also impressive in this day where so many top players struggle but Young's typically strive. Plus, the future remains very bright. The Dolphins will be right back at it next season as a state title contender, especially if a couple of the younger players in the program elevate their games.

Anthony Johnson, a 6-3 junior guard who is committed to Purdue, will return. Oregon State commitment Ahmad Starks returns to the backcourt. And Thompson, the versatile 6-5 sophomore is poised for a breakout year. Then there is the incoming talent, led by little but talented freshman point guard Derrick Randolph, 6-5 freshman Jermaine Winfield and the potential arrival of 6-7 Tommy Hamilton, the 8th grader who may be heading to Whitney Young.

Shhhh, listen .... The critics are finally quiet.

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12 Comments

I WILL BE THE FIRST TO SAY CONGRATS, BECAUSE I WAS A
CRITIC, YOUNG HAS AN ALL-STAR TEAM, THEY HAVE TRAVELED
ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, BUT I GIVE YOUNG CREDIT THEY BROUGHT
HOME THE TROPHY AND IN ILLINOIS THAT IS ALL THAT COUNTS!
TO COACH SLAUGHTER, AND THE DOLPHINS YOU ARE STATE
CHAMPS, I SALUTE THE EFFORT, AND MARCUS JORDAN SHOWED
WHY HE IS ONE OF THE BEST UNSIGNED SENIORS IN THE STATE!
TO AHMAD STARKS, VERY GUTSY EFFORT WITH A BROKEN BONE IN
YOUR WRIST, AND COLVIN WAS NAILS!
THE BIG GUYS SHOWED UP AND PRACTICALLY MADE A WAUKEGAN
PLAYER STOP PLAYING, AND WE ALL KNOW WHO THAT WAS, SO
CONGRATS TO WHITNEY YOUNG HIGH SCHOOL FOR KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE AND ACHIEVING WHAT YOU SET OUT TO
ACCOMPLISH, YOU DESERVE TO BE STATE CHAMPS!

Hey Joe, I know that Champaign Centennial is not a Chicago area school but their coach Tim Lavin is a Chicago area product and former player from a Sweet Sixteen team at Elmhurst High School. Centennial did one heck of a job in winning the AAA championship this year winning some very close games along the way including victories over a couple of those powerhouse Chicago area teams. How about some ink so that Tims relatives who still live in the Chicago area can stick out their chests a little bit. State Championships don't come every day you know.

Phil if you are talking about Jereme Richmond he DID NOT STOP PLAYING YOU FOOL. He did the best he could with strains of the flu buddy. He play top notch and played as hard as he could on a six man outfit. Waukegan and Richmond should be proud of what they have acomplished. They'll be back next season. Whitney Young congrats especially Chris Colvin who is A STEAL for Iowa State.

DEAR TIM, YOU SAW WHAT EVERYONE SAW, HE POUTED, HE DIDN'T
WANT TO DRIBBLE, HE GETS A PASS, BECAUSE IF HE DIDN'T HIT
THE MIRACLE SHOT, THEY WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE IN THE
FIRST PLACE, WATCH CALLING ME NAMES IN THE FUTURE!
I DIDN'T KNOW YOU WERE A DOCTOR, BUDDY!
THEY WON'T BE BACK IF THEY DON'T LEARN FROM THIS GAME!
CONGRATS TO WHITNEY YOUNG, THEY SHUT DOWN NICKERSON AND
THE PLAYER OF THE YEAR FOR MOST OF THE GAME!
AND STEVIE WONDER SAW THAT AS WELL, BUDDY!
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!

I know this comment has nothing to do with the blog, but I love the excuses people come up with! Richmond sure had a funny way of only showing signs of sickness after he committed a turn over. He is a great player but I think Richmond would admit after watching game film that he looked like a baby at times.

Excellent article Joe. Not only are Whitney Young's critics quiet, Marcus Jordan has quieted a lot of people as well. He had a great playoffs and just brought his game to another level in Peoria. Same to Stan Brown. He really stepped his game up. Starks showed a lot of guts coming back to play from his injury. And they weren't just garbage minutes. But you really have to give it up to Coach Slaughter. A team of stars and keeping them together all season was great. It's what high school basketball needed.

Follow my journey in Peoria during the state tournament @http://www.twitter.com/illhoops

Hoops Fan and Phil sorry don't buy it. Waukegan is nowhere near the State Finals without Richmond. And when he starts playing in the NBA I will remind both of you of it every chance I get. Jereme Richmond is the best player in the State since Derrick Rose. Stop your hating and deal with facts guys.

Tim... No one is disputing Jereme Richmond is the best talent in the state and has a NBA career ahead of him if he keeps working and head screwed on straight. Everyone in the state acknowledges that. But everyone in the state also sees that poor attitude he brings at times, the disrespect he shows, the laziness at times. Those are facts as well that fans, media and others have noted.

Richmond also let his feelings show during the game as well. When he was cold in the first half, you could constantly see him shrugging his shoulders or looking up at the ceiling. At one point, he missed a shot and while WY was racing down court he's looking up at the ceiling. He has to learn that you have to play through that type of stuff. He may be the best player in the state, but even the best have off nights.

Follow my journey in Peoria during the state tournament @http://www.twitter.com/illhoops

EVERYONE KNOWS HE WILL GET A SHOT AT THE NBA, BUT HERE
IS SOME NEWS FOR YOU, IF HE IS GOING TO PLAY WITH MAC
IRVIN'S FIRE, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT HE WILL HONOR
HIS COMMITTMENT TO ILLINOIS, JUST STATING A POSSIBILITY,
AND TIM YOU KNOW HE POUTED, WALKED, DIDN'T WANT TO
DRIBBLE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, I THINK YOU SHOULD TELL
HIM ABOUT RONNIE FIELDS, BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING WRITTEN
IN STONE THAT HE WILL PLAY IN THE NBA, GREG ODEN IS
HAVING A ROUGH TIME IN THE LEAGUE, RICHMOND HAS TO BE A
GEM EVERY NIGHT, I GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR THE SHOT HE MADE
AGAINST WARREN AND FOR HELPING HIS TEAM PLAY IN PEORIA,
I JUST THINK HE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE OF A LEADER IN THE
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, NICKERSON FED OFF A HIM, AND NICKERSON
HAD A TERRIBLE FIRST HALF, THEY BOTH DID, I WANT HIM TO
SUCCEED BUT HE HAS TO WANT TO SUCCEED AS WELL!

Call me an idealist, and no offense to the kids at Whitney Young (congradulations), but I find it disturbing that everyone is praising Slaughter.

Not one journalist has mentioned that he got caught trying to illegally recruit a player (C Head) and was suspended for the first six games this year.

All that seems to matter is that the team he coached won. Win, and you can get away with anything, your sins will be forgiven. Would people be saying the same thing if Fenwick made a couple more baskets and upset Young in the Regionals (which they almost did).

I know, ifs and buts and all that, but cheating is cheating. What lesson does this teach the kids in high school who want to be coaches?

"Do whatever you can, legally or illegally, to get the best players at your school. If you get caught, you will get a slap on the wrist. But you probably won't get caught, so do it, win and be known as a 'great coach'."

Not a good lesson.


THE POINT IS THE MAN WON THE STATE, THE TEAM TRAVELED ALL
OVER THE COUNTRY AND THEIR GOAL WAS TO WIN THE STATE,
YOU CAN CALL HIM WHAT YOU WANT, BUT YOU CAN'T CALL HIM
A LOSER, BECAUSE HE JUST WON THE STATE OF ILLINOIS 4A
CHAMPIONSHIP, THE SECOND ONE IN WHITNEY YOUNG'S HISTORY!
THEY JUST MIGHT DO IT AGAIN, WITH STARKS AND JOHNSON AND
THE BIG MEN, THEY ARE VERY MUCH A TEAM TO BE RECKONED
WITH NEXT SEASON! STAY TUNED!
THEY HAVE A GOOD PIPE-LINE WITH THE MAGNET GRADE SCHOOLS!
ALSO THE PLAYER YOU ARE ACCUSING OF HIM CHEATING, DOESN'T
EVEN ATTEND THE SCHOOL, SO LET IT GO AND CONGRATULATE
THE COACH AND THE TEAM FOR WITHSTANDING SO MUCH ADVERSITY!
GO TO AN AAU GAME THIS WEEKEND AND RELAX!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 21, 2009 11:55 PM.

Proving ground in Peoria was the previous entry in this blog.

Peoria rewind: biggest stars, stories and more is the next entry in this blog.

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