By Joe Henricksen

No ordinary week for Downers South

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By Joe Henricksen

If there was ever a week during the regular season that a coach shouldn't have any problem keeping his team's complete focus, this is it for Downers Grove South coach Jay Baum.

First, the talented Mustangs, led by the senior guard duo of Jerron Wilbut and Jamall Millison, will host unbeaten and West Suburban Gold rival Proviso East Thursday night. Then Baum's boys will travel to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates for a showdown with Warren.

"It's a huge week for Downers South," admits Baum. "It's a playoff-type atmosphere that should be fun and exciting. No matter what happens, it's going to be good for us."

While Proviso East and Warren are both among the state's elite teams -- both are ranked among the top five teams in this week's Hoops Report rankings -- Downers Grove South isn't too shabby. DGS is the only legitimate contender to Proviso East in the West Suburban Gold. The Mustangs are 13-2 on the season, losing to two teams, Plainfield East and St. Ignatius, with a combined record of 26-2. And they're getting better.

Downers Grove South came in with high expectations, both internally and externally, following a season in which the Mustangs won 25 games, a West Suburban Gold championship (beating Proviso East twice) and a regional title. However, the fact there were just three players returning with any varsity experience -- Wilbut, Millison and 6-5 Kevin Honn -- meant this team might not be at its best until the second half of the season.

While Wilbut and Millison have carried the Mustangs, sophomore guard Danny Spinuzza and 6-6 senior Greg Garro have become more acclimated to the pressures of varsity basketball and provided lifts here and there. Now Baum and the Mustangs will see how far they've come since falling to Plainfield East at Thanksgiving and dropping a heartbreaker to St. Ignatius in the semifinals at the York Holiday Tournament.

You want a measuring stick for Downers South? This week will provide it for Baum's Mustangs. Downers South, which will certainly be a top four seed in the East Aurora Sectional this March, will go from the speed and relentless pressure Proviso East comes at teams with to the size and length Warren possesses.

"We know it's going to take a monumental effort," says Baum of the two matchups. "This is the best Proviso East team in a long, long time. And Warren is coached by a hall of fame coach and is one of the top teams in the state."

When all is said and done, if the Mustangs value the ball and don't let Proviso East's pressure get to them, there will be scoring opportunities available -- maybe even some easy scoring opportunities. And DGS has a star in Wilbut who has the ability to not only take over a game, but make those around him better when he's in control. And when that one is all over, state runner-up Warren will be waiting in the wings.

No, it's not an ordinary week for Downers Grove South.

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2 Comments

Why doesnt the coach of downers south use his big junior that rob kid is 6'8 and the other junior Kevin hall 6'6. Sean love is a junior over there and he is the fastest guards they have, he's a great defender but they need to play them.

Joe,

As always, thanks for the knowledge. I love good teams and that is one reason I went to the Proviso East - DGS game. Two good teams, two good coaches, lots of talent on the floor for both teams.

The final score made the game look closer than it actually was. The PE guards absolutely were terrors, especially in the opening quarter. DGS had a difficult time getting the ball up the court as PE's guards (Paris times two - both are under rated) stole the ball at will and converted those steals into points. The PE guards were the total difference in the game.

One of the PE strengths is how well they play as a complete unit. It is clear players are giving up individual stats for the sake of the team. I have seen them play four times this year and Keith Carter is highly under rated in my opinion. He has given up stats for team success. He does not fall into the trap of taking on the other teams star guard in a personal war. Having said that he wore out Van Fleet at Proviso West and dominated against DGS.

Coach Boyce has PE playing at a very high level. It is great to see PE back as one of the areas top teams.

DGS has a very good team. Their bigs played a very good game against PE. I know the DGS guards get a lot of publicity, but Wilbut falls into the trap on trying to dominate the guy guarding him and at that point the team suffers. IMHO he is not a point guard. He doesn't have that mentality. Coach Baum has done a very nice job in bringing along his "bigs" and Spinuzza played a very nice game once he got acclimated to the speed PE forces you to play.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 17, 2012 10:30 PM.

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