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home : sports : sports   April 29, 2016

11/2/2013 2:14:00 AM
IVCC men's basketball preview

Jared Bell
NewsTribune Sports Writer

Tommy Canale had a purpose.

During summer conditioning and preseason workouts, the seventh-year IVCC men’s basketball coach pushed his team hard — real hard.

Instead of the traditional conditioning Canale has done in the past, he upped the ante and took it to a new extreme.

“We’ve always conditioned over the summer, but this year we went up a few notches to the point where the kids were calling it ‘Camp Canale,’” the IVCC coach joked. “Joe Barry — who is trying to make the team — went into the Army and said, ‘I would rather go back to boot camp than go through this every day.’”

The workouts included having 6 1/2 minutes to run down and back up the steep road in front of the college that leads to Rt. 351. The Eagles also had to backpedal up the steep hill behind the IVCC gymnasium as well as do defensive slides on the hill.

Also, in order for every player to receive practice gear, players had to meet a specific mile time.

“The conditioning season we had was probably the toughest thing that I’ve ever done,” IVCC sophomore and Mendota alumnus Ross Arteaga said. “It was absolutely ridiculous.”

There was a method to Canale’s madness.

After being a half-court, set-play offense led by the graduated Michael Murray and Alec Schwab the last few years, this year Canale wants to run.

“The main reason we did that is we’re going to try — and I say try because we’re still learning — to up the tempo this year and pretty much look like we’re playing a little chaotic but under control,” Canale said.

It’s the best way Canale feels that he can use his team’s talent, and the IVCC coach plans to give the controlled chaos style a three-game test to start the regular season — which begins at 3 p.m. today at home against the Lewis University JV team — before revaluating whether to keep the style or abandon it.

“Our thought is if we can get a team that can go then we can force tempo, but then change tempo when we bring some kids off the bench that are set players,” Canale said. “While we do that, we can rest our tempo guys and then bring them back in and turn the tempo back up, which will really cause problems when teams don’t know if we’re going to run or not going to run.”

Canale changed his philosophy because he returns just two players in Arteaga and sophomore starting point guard Corey McCrary.

“The only kid who we know for sure that is going to start is Corey McCrary,” Canale said. “The other four spots are up for grabs and we’ve been trying other four-person combinations (in scrimmages). We’ve probably tried four or five combinations and we’re still looking. We have kids who work well together, but we then hurt our bench, so we’re still trying to work out who goes where.”

Other than McCrary, Arteaga is expected to see playing time as well as 6-foot-6, 240-pound post Lamont Adair, a sophomore transfer.

Also expected to see action is freshman sharpshooter Dominique Chandler from Louisville, Ky., freshman guard and St. Bede graduate Damin Smith, freshman guard and Seneca alumnus Jimmy David, sophomore transfer guard Quenton Lowe and 6-foot-5, 255-pound post Torrance Johnson from Chicago Hope Academy.

Also capable of playing is redshirt freshman guard Mike Stephenitch from Amboy, freshman guard Jensen Bryant from Ottawa, sophomore transfer Mike McCrary from Champaign Centennial, freshman guard/forward Tim Smith from Joliet West, freshman 6-foot-8, 225-pound post Jackson Stone from Danville.

Freshman Trae Blumhorst, a Mendota graduate, will be available second semester.

“Hopefully, with the conditioning, we can last,” McCrary said. “We can get up and down the floor and we want to run, so I think really think the conditioning that coach put us through has and will pay off in the long run.”

Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.

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