Told the Western Big 6 Conference is viewed by some as being at a historically low level, United Township boys' basketball coach Marc Polite offers his viewpoint.|
Perception does not equal reality.
How the Big 6 season finishes will be determined in the next nine weeks. Until then, all six teams are looking for ways to establish some momentum during a title chase.
At the same time, there is an attempt to alter the perception that this is a down Big 6 season.
"The unknown would leave people to believe that," Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said. "Everybody lost so much. Not everyone had a lot coming back."
Still, the history inside this league provides optimism this year will have constant excitement. One day can make that happen.
Five of the league's six coaches gathered at the Carver Center on Monday afternoon during the Genesis Shootout press conference, viewing the one-day, seven-game bonanza as an event that could serve as a reminder the league still is strong.
Tip-off for the former Iowa-Illinois Shootout starts at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15.
"It's a big deal," Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said of the Shootout's importance to the league this year. "We want to show we have a lot of fight in our conference."
The event will provide that chance. With talented returners and a plethora of exciting newcomers, the Mississippi Athletic Conference offers the perfect test to see how well the Big 6 can compete this year.
In that regard, the day is a measuring block to prove its value.
"If you win the league, you don't want it to be seen that you beat a bunch of chumps to win it," Sigel said. "And if you don't win it, you want the champion to represent the league well around the state or in this case, outside the state. It is good for the whole conference when all six teams play well."
The feeling is shared by every coach.
"There's so much history behind the conference," Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. "I hope that we maintain that integrity in the conference."
That's why there is so much anticipation for the Genesis Shootout because there is so much at stake.
"The Shootout is another opportunity to showcase the kids and the teams in our conference," Rangel said. "We take great pride in that. It's a great event because there are so many good teams in the (MAC). It brings an added incentive."
"It's a great opportunity," Moline coach Jeff Schimmel said. "It's fun for the community."
The basketball part makes for intrigue, too. Knowing what this day can do for the Big 6, it should be a good show.
"We'll represent well," Reynolds said. "We still have one of the most balanced leagues in the state."
What they say
Here is what each local boys' basketball coach said about their team's Genesis Iowa-Illinois Shootout pairing:
Geneseo coach Brad Storm on Davenport North (10 a.m.): "I don't really know much about them. I'm still trying to learn about my own guys. I'm sure I'll get a chance to look at them at some point."
Riverdale coach Jason Hendrix on Davenport Central (11:45 a.m.): "Anytime you play a school that size, you know they're going to be athletic. We're going to have to play good defense, not give up layups and execute on offense."
Alleman coach Pat Rangel on Davenport West (1:30 p.m.): "We're looking forward to it. Coach (Mark) Bigler runs a great program. They're going to have a pretty tough team. They have two big guys who can bang around a bit and a freshman phenom. You're going to see two similar teams in that both are going to lay it out there."
United Township coach Marc Polite on Pleasant Valley (3:15 p.m.): "It's going to be a tough matchup. We played them quite a bit over the summer. They're a good team and have some good experience back. I know they're going to be well-coached."
Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds on North Scott (5 p.m.): "They're kind of foreign to us. What I hear from other coaches is they're one of the best teams on the Iowa side. They're similar to us in that they have a couple young guys. We're excited about the challenge."
Moline coach Jeff Schimmel on Bettendorf (6:45 p.m.): "We scouted them Friday. I haven't seen the film yet. They're a good bunch. They have a couple guys who cause problems. It's a tough matchup for us."
Rock Island coach Thom Sigel on Davenport Assumption (8:30 p.m.): "There are some good teams in Iowa. Obviously, they're at the top. We've got a lot to take care of before that, but they're going to be a good matchup."
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