By Joe Henricksen

Too early for March picks?

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There are all types of prognosticators. There are the ones who make the pick strictly for shock value. These are the ones people call fools until -- and only when -- the pick comes true.

There are the ones who talk themselves out of picking the favorite. They look for any slight chink in the armor, any potential weakness that could end any potential title hopes. Then they come back later with, "Well, I REALLY did pick them."

And then there are the ones who pick with logic.

The common thought would be that if you're not picking Simeon to take the 2013 state title in Class 4A, you either think A) Jabari Parker is forever hobbled and will never lose weight, B) You're either just sick of them winning, or C) You're putting a whole lot of stock into their loss in Texas Thursday night.

It was a bad night for Simeon, for sure. But, honestly, the loss didn't surprise me one bit. Parker is playing at 20 or 30 percent of his All-American self. Simeon has played one game --12 days ago -- while a talented DeSoto team was playing its 15th game of the season.

Simeon is, remember, the three-time defending state champs. The Wolverines have won state championships with less talent than this team has.

I'm sure there will be some people who will discard Simeon quickly after watching their nationally televised game Thursday night. These types of games -- and Simeon, in general -- tend to get magnified a little more than others. This isn't anything new. Simeon has won state championships after going through all different types of regular seasons. Coach Rob Smith uses everything from November to February to build towards what he and the program ultimately want to accomplish in March: state championships. Simeon is still Simeon.

But wait just a minute. After watching Whitney Young's opening-game performance, a convincing win over DeMatha Catholic, along with my jaw dropping over and over again watching Jahlil Okafor dominate as if he were playing against the Dixon High School JV team, the Dolphins have piqued my interest as a legitimate threat to Simeon.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we knew Young was going to be really good. No surprise. But with a little more evidence that coach Tyrone Slaughter's Dolphins might have the type of guard play to win a championship, there could be some debate sometime soon between Simeon and Whitney Young.

Which brings us to the picks. The IHSA just released the sectional assignments. Sadly, the game everyone wants to see will happen before anyone is playing in Peoria. Argo High School will host a 4A sectional, which will likely pit Simeon against Whitney Young in the title game March 8 in Summit.

We are still early in the season with so much still to be determined. We'll have to let the next couple of months play out before we get serious about March picks. But based on the IHSA sectional assignments, here are the Hoops Report's projected sectional championship game matchups in the many Class 4A sectionals throughout the Chicago area.

• Benet Academy over West Aurora
Darkhorse: Neuqua Valley

• Proviso East over York
Darkhorse: Glenbard East

• Niles Notre Dame over Loyola Academy
Darkhorse: Maine South

• Simeon over Whitney Young
Darkhorse: Marist

• Homewood-Flossmoor over Bloom
Darkhorse: Marian Catholic

• Lake Forest over Zion-Benton
Darkhorse: St. Viator

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Interestingly, this is the same article you wrote last year when Simeon got spanked on a national stage. Somehow I can't help but believe if they had won, the discussion would be how great they are but since they lost the game is somehow insignificant. However, I do agree that this game doesn't mean a whole lot on a local level. Being the best on the block means just that. Simeon has a very good chance to win state again. Smith has had very talented kids transfer to his team and they are stacked again. With the exception of Whitney Young, they won't see a in-state team with the amount of talent they have.

That is, for me, the interesting thing about watching local teams play against their peers nationally - schools that recruit the best talent from their respective metropolitan areas. The game this year against DeSoto illustrated that Robert Smith is not special as a coach, he has superior talent and that is enough to win on local level. They were not able to go over the top of DeSoto with their size, speed and their 2-1-2 full court press. That team was prepared and their press break offense gave them layups all night. Smith couldn't and didn't make adjustments against them because they were just as talented and more prepared.

So yes Joe, Simeon may win state again. They clearly have the talent to do it but if they do, for me at least, it won't be that much of an accomplishment. When you have mulltiple division 1 players and most high schools do not, you should win.

Loyola got manhandled by Niles North and NN probably should have beat ND in the Wheeling tourney final. That and the fact they are coming off back to back sectional final appearances with a win against a better Notre Dame team 2 years ago.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on December 14, 2012 6:22 AM.

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