Moline was known for two things the last four boys' basketball seasons.|
During Ryan Webber's successful coaching tenure, the Maroons boasted a stifling 1-2-2 defense married with the ability to score as soon as stepping across halfcourt.
The latter attribute was thanks to the long-range shooting of the Lindauer brothers, but with that brood's youngest now graduated, "those days are long gone,'' notes new head man Jeff Schimmel.
"We're just not going to have that instant offense,'' said the Maroons' longtime sophomore coach, who takes over with Webber gone now, too, coaching in the Chicago suburbs.
"We're going to have to find ways to get guys open, share the ball, and use our height to score off of rebounds. Everything by this group is going to be by committee for us to have any kind of success.''
That necessity is borne out of the fact the Maroons are vastly inexperienced on the varsity level despite boasting eight seniors.
Of the returners, only guard Drew Owens started last season, and Devin Struble (guard) and Josh Larson (forward) were the only others seeing significant playing time.
"I had these kids as sophomores, and I saw them last season as juniors, disappointed in not getting to play a whole lot,'' Schimmel said. "But we use that defeat as motivation now. This is what these kids have been waiting for and working toward. Now they get their chance to show what they can do.''
Indeed, while the long bombs are gone, these Maroons boast a different kind of length.
The projected front line includes Larson (6-7), fellow senior Derrick Stabler (6-4), junior starter Brandon Vice (6-6) andbackup center Tanner Logan (6-5).
"We have one of the biggest and longest teams I can remember at Moline,'' said Schimmel, a 1987 Moline grad. "Now whether they have enough strength and weight to stand up in this league remains to be seen. That's the big question: Are we game ready?''
To try and ensure these Maroons are ready for battle in the rugged Western Big 6 Conference, Schimmel enlisted QC Sports Performance guru Darren Phelps to work with his team in the weight room.
Moline also still employs the 1-2-2 zone defense, which is uniquely suited to this team, forcing foes to shoot over that size, and then contend with that tall timberon the boards.
"They've been brain-washed in that ball press for four years now,'' said Schimmel, who does plan to mix in some other defenses."They know it's a demanding defense, whether we pick people up three-quarter court or in the halfcourt. You have to be in shape, you have to take correct angles and you have to have active hands and feet. But they enjoy running it, because it leads to some easy baskets, with tips and deflections, the things we're looking for to help us offensively.''
Akey question, Schimmel notes, will be what kind of guard play the Maroons get this season.
Owens is joined in the season-starting lineup by fellow senior Jed Wood. Struble, DeCarlos Flores, Vashaun Newman and Sean Hanley also figure to see significant playing time.
"We don't have a true point guard, so that's also going to have to be done by committee,'' Schimmel said. "Our guards are going to have to handle pressure, share the ball and find ways to score.
"We're also looking for some senior leadership. So we'll lean on Drew. With all of his Legion (baseball) success, going to the World Series, his experience can help some of these other guys in a big-game situation. But all of the seniors need to step up. This is their time and they need to take ownership of the situation.''
Also concerning is the squad's schedule, with the Maroons addressing their inexperience on the road, playing just twice atWharton Field Housebeforethe Martin Luther King Tournament in late January.
"We're still trying to find our identity,'' Schimmel said. "When it comes to the nitty gritty of the season who and what are we going to rely on?
"But on the bright side, this is a close-knit group. It's a fun locker room because they like each other, and they like a challenge.
"Can we compete with the Rock Islands and the Quincys (in the Big 6)? Right now, we're outgunned, but the great thing about this conference is anything can happen on a Friday night when you have a group that works hard together.''
Meet the Maroons
Coach: Jeff Schimmel, 1st season as Moline's head coach.
Assistants: Dave Fowler, Jeff Verstraete (head sophomore), Scott Karl (sophomore assistant), Ryan Sergeant (head freshman), Ricky Hoyt (freshman assistant).
Last season: 23-9, 4-6 in the Western Big 6 Conference. Lost to Pekin, 41-32 in a Class 4A regional championship game.
Returning letterwinners: Srs: Drew Owens (6-0 G), Derrick Stabler (6-4 F), Jed Wood (6-0 G), Devin Struble (5-9 G), Josh Larson (6-7 F).
Newcomers: Srs: Bryan Brinker (6-2 F), Vashaun Newman (5-6 G), Jake Viaene (6-6 C), DeCarlos Flores (6-0 G); Jrs: Sean Hanley (5-9 G), Tanner Logan (6-5 C), Derrick Requet (6-1 F), Brandon Vice (6-6 C).
Schedule (all games 7:30 p.m. unless noted): Nov. 21 & 23-24 Galesburg Tournament, TBA; Nov. 30 Galesburg; Dec. 7 at Alleman (Augustana College); Dec. 14 Quincy; Dec. 15 at Iowa-Illinois Shootout (vs. Bettendorf at Augustana), 6:45 p.m.; Dec. 21-22 & 26-28 at DeKalb's Chuck Dayton Invite, TBA; Jan. 5 at Freeport, 7 p.m.; Jan. 11 at Rock Island; Jan. 12 at Wheeling, 2:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 at United Township; Jan. 19 & 21 Moline Martin Luther King Tournament, TBA; Jan. 25 at Galesburg; Jan. 26 QC-Wheaton Shootout, TBA; Feb. 1 Alleman; Feb. 2 Normal, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 8 at Quincy; Feb. 15 Rock Island; Feb. 16 at Lincoln, 6 p.m.; Feb. 22 United Township.
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