DeKALB — Brad Storm has seen his share of bad weather over the years.|
Now, the longtime Geneseo boys' basketball coach just needs to convince his current club the forecast contains much sunnier days.
That's not an easy proposition, though, with the Leafs suffering their fourth straight and worst defeat in DeKalb's Chuck Dayton Classic, 59-45 Thursday to Machesney Park Harlem.
The Huskies (6-6), who improved to 3-1 at the event, after missing the championship round on a tiebreaker, marked the latest and greatest foe in Geneseo's toughest of draws at the 85th annual holiday tournament. The Leafs narrowly lost to the finalists in today's third-place matchup between Hampshire and Aurora Marmion.
Geneseo (6-6) draws the tourney hosts today in its 3:30 p.m. event finale.
"We're just lucky, I guess," Storm lamented after Harlem used an 8-0 third-quarter burst to turn a tight contest into a double-figure affair. "That's probably the best team we've played here. Harlem should have been in the Final Four. They're better than the two teams in our pool that made it."
So it was encouraging news when Geneseo trailed just 29-23 at halftime despite having its best player, Jordan Starkey, sitting on the bench with foul trouble through the entire second quarter.
"And they got a last second turnover-and-basket, otherwise we'd have been even closer,'' Storm said. "But then we got hesitant against their pressure (in the third quarter), turned the ball over a few times and really got down. We got it within shooting distance there at the end, (getting within 11 points), but they made some plays and did what they needed to do (hitting five of six free throws late).''
Despite the setback, Storm saw plenty of positives on which to build, such as Austin Frank's game-high 11 rebounds and eight points off the bench, the team-leading 14-point scoring effort from Starkey, and Jordan Mielke (a 3-ball) and Jake Scott (two points, an assist) contributing key reserve minutes.
"But I'm starting to believe these guys don't think they're good enough,'' said Storm, who's on his second tour of Leaf duty. "I don't know who they've been listening to over the years, but we're better than we're showing, and we have to find a way to believe that.
"I told them, `You should listen to your parents and teachers about other stuff, but when it comes to basketball, listen to me, and I'm telling you we're better than what they're showing.'''
After all, Storm has seen this all before, including his last season coaching before this, when Geneseo reached the Sweet 16 in 2007-08.
"I remember we went to Pekin and won one game at Christmas,'' Storm said. "But that was a turning point. Those kids looked at themselves in the mirror and said, `We're better than this.' Not to say these guys are this level, but it's going to have to be the same thing. We're better than what we're showing right now. We should know we can compete for the (Northern Illinois Big 12 West) conference title.''
Geneseo sits 2-1 in the league, with its lone loss at leader Ottawa.
"We're just a jigsaw puzzle right now,'' Storm said. "The pieces are there. It's just a matter of putting it together.''
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