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Taps Browning

Blue Chip Conference Preview

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I was asked if I was going to do this again. I'm glad to do it with the caveat that I am going from memory and opinion, so please correct my errors and omissions.

First of all I frankly wonder if the entire concept of conference play hasn't gone the way of the button hook. Before class sports most teams knew they had no chance to win a state championship and a lot of teams had little chance to win a sectional. In that environment conferences made sense. You were in a group of schools comparable to you and had a chance to win a championship. It was basically class basketball before class basketball. In those days it was a big deal to win the conference. In sports that had a conference meet like cross country or track the conference meet was every bit as important as sectional. None of this is true anymore. Winning the Blue Chip conference in basketball just doesn't mean much for the kids anymore. I would go so far as to say for schools who have won it lots of times it really isn't any consideration at all.  No big deal except by being part of a conference you are bound to play those schools every year. When some teams are really weak, like we see in the Blue Chip, it causes harm to the better programs. Anyway, here is how I see it for this year.

1. Barr-Reeve. The Vikings are the obvious favorite. They were undefeated champs last year and return their top 6 plus a couple of nice freshman and 2 or 3 guys from the JV last year that should have gotten some minutes. BR is going to be very deep. Sometimes that can be a problem. They also have a new coach this year. Sometimes that can be a problem. Senior guard Gabe Gladish is a fine player. When he is on you won't find a better 1A 2 guard. In his first two seasons his shooting has fallen off at the end of the season and in the tournament. He is a gym rat so that might have been fatigue. Junior post Keegan O'Neil is a big kid who is tough for most 1A centers to handle. He improved a lot from his freshman year. He can step out and shoot it as well as play back to the basket. Senior guard Isaac Wagler is a great garbage guy for BR. Well, I'm not going to detail their entire roster, but they have the goods to go deep. I hope Jenson Wittmer gets a chance to play this season. He was a junior last year and played strictly JV. He was also (my opinion) the best shooter in the school. They could have really used him when teams went zone on them (as any smart team would do).

2. South Knox. The Spartans graduated Brandon Fickling, but return most everyone else. Justin Fickling and Nick Johnson are two fine players. South Knox has had a good run of talent. I don't know if Mark Rohrer caused that or just benefitted from it but it has been the case. SK also has a new coach. 

3. Loogootee. Loogootee graduated leading scorer Wagoner. They have 2 very good sophomores in Silas Bauer and Pendley. Bauer is very good, about 6'5" and athletic. If he were a little longer he would have college coaches camped out on his lawn. Pendley is a good little guard. Unfortunately there isn't much else for the Lions. I'm told they had a lackluster summer. I think they might surprise some people. In the conference game with BR last year it took 3 overtimes for BR to get the win and in the sectional game the Lions had BR beat and spit the bit at the end. Some people blamed coach Chezem for pulling it out at the end of that game, but I did not. That is an unwinnable situation for a coach. If you stay on the gas and miss a few and get beat then the same people who blame you for pulling it out will blame you for not realizing the clock is your opponent in that situation. I do blame the coach for allowing his players to act the fool - taunting the opposing players/crowd, acting like cheerleaders instead of players, etc. That nonsense results in instant karma against you more often than not.

4. Shoals. Shoals had their best team in years last year and returns pretty well intact. They will be competitive. I'm drawing a blank on the name of their center but he is a nice player.

5. Dubois. Dubois is one of the better programs in the BCC. They are competitive every year. They had a shot at the buzzer to beat BR last year. My recollection is that they graduated most of their talent.

6. Wood Memorial. WM has absolutely squandered a great run of talent. Only one remains - Paxton Bartley. He is the best player in the conference and a legitimate 1A possibility to make the all star team. I wouldn't be surprised if he is among the state leaders in scoring this year. He is already a 1,000 point scorer and he will no longer have to share the ball with other scorers. 

7. Vincennes Rivet. I'll be honest I don't remember who they have coming back, nor do I know of any additions.

8. North Knox. NK will be bad. They always are.

9. Washington Catholic. I'm not sure what WC gains by being in this conference. I mean they get games on the schedule but that is it. At some point you have to consider if it is worth it, don't you?

Edited by Taps Browning
typo

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Thanks for the breakdown taps. I will add a little bit as I recall.

Barr-Reeve you have covered. 

South Knox lost 4 seniors with the main loss being Brandon Fickling who was their leading scorer. All in all they lost close to 20 points a game. It will be interesting to see how they do with a new coach but they have a lot of talent returning.

Loogootee lost Jayden Wagoner who was their go to player when they needed points. It will be interesting to see where they get those points this year. As you said they have the two sophomores though I don’t think Pendley is a big scorer and Bauer has to learn to stay out of foul trouble. A lot may depend on if Dearwester can step up to fill the scoring void or if Cheazem tries to put his son in that role. They also have the two sophomore  Wildman twins who will be looking to step up after seeing mostly jv minutes last year.

Shoals has their top 8 players back with tichenor being the top scorer and rebounder. They picked up a freshman transfer from BNL in Brayden Perry who will see some varsity time at point guard. They also have a senior transfer from Loogootee in Jacobson Wagoner who looks like he will be in the playing rotation.

Dubois lost a ton of senior players including most of their post players. Griffen Bauer is a big loss for them. They do return Reese Bauer who is one of the best scorers in the league.

Wood Memorial is much like Dubois in that they lost a ton of seniors. As you said they do return Bartley who will score alot this year.

I believe Rivet has most everyone back. The Mouzin kid is a good player and a great multi sport athlete in the conference. They were a bit on an enigma but gave Loogootee everything they wanted last year in sectional in a double overtime loss. 

North Knox was as you said was bad last year. 1-24 is a rough year and I really don’t recall what they graduated.

Washington Catholic was really bad as noted by their 40 point loss to North Knox last season. Brock Craney is a good shooter but he has no help. He scored just over 13 points a game as a junior on a team that didn’t average 30. 

 

Looking forward to the season if anyone has more information or something I got wrong feel free to correct me.

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South West Indiana Basketball on Facebook did a video breakdown of the Blue chip conference today. Gave some good info if anyone is interested.

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On 10/26/2018 at 10:29 AM, Taps Browning said:

First of all I frankly wonder if the entire concept of conference play hasn't gone the way of the button hook.

 

Taps, you're totally on point with your list and that's exactly how I see it playing out as well, however, I want to touch on this. You said that conference play has gone the wayside and that teams don't really care about it anymore...I agree with you.

There is so much parity in conferences nowadays that most teams want to win a sectional more than their own conference. I know I have talked to a bunch of kids and asked them which they'd prefer and they all prefer to win sectional. As you mentioned, in single class basketball for a lot of schools this was their "state championship" now with the ability to win state more easily schools look to gain sectional titles, not conference titles.

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Ok I can only speak of three teams in the whole of the conference so here goes.

Barr-Reeve: Well covered by Taps already, I would just like to throw in that Bryan Hughes isn't roaming that sideline anymore so I look for them to lose some games because of that reason. However, they win the conference easy.

Shoals: Returns everybody from the best team since Travis Brett in 96. Klayton Tichenor added muscle to an already big frame over the summer or so I am told. I look for him to be the go to guy on this team once again. Also Reece Sherrill seems like he grew a few inches since the end of last season and packed a few pounds on. He should be good on the defensive end and rebounding side, if he can add a few buckets to the mix it will help this team greatly. Max Fisher should continue to be a shooting threat along with Johnny Sukup. The addition of Braydon Perry could help this team greatly because the thing Shoals lacked last year was one more good ball handler. I predict a winning record but Shoals will still be looking for that first sectional championship when the season is over.

Finally Loogootee: Taps can you tell me when the Loogootee players acted a "fool" last year? I have not heard that said until now? Silas Bauer is going to have to step up everybody knows that, we he? I think he will. Bailey Dearwester is going to have to play all season like he did in sectional last year if not it's going to be hard to tally very many points for the lions. With that said I look for Landon Harder to be this season breakout player. He can score at the basket and can knock down the three ball. He should be a major part of this team. The Wildman twins will be moving up this year and like there name says they can be wildmen at times, but in the same breath I will say that can be very good also, time will tell with these two. Another dark horse is going to be Preston Hart. First time you have heard the name? Get use to it. This kid is and will be the strongest player on the floor at all times not matter who Loogootee plays. Whoever this kid guards is going to feel it the next day. Kid is pure hustle I enjoy watching him play. I predict the Lions to have a better than most people think season, probably sectional champs.

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On ‎10‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 2:17 PM, Ltown said:

 

Finally Loogootee: Taps can you tell me when the Loogootee players acted a "fool" last year? I have not heard that said until now? 

In the sectional game vs BR. Not going to name him but one of them was really hot dogging it - making the shush sign to the BR crowd, etc. Several were acting like more like cheerleaders than players.

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On ‎10‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 2:17 PM, Ltown said:

Ok I can only speak of three teams in the whole of the conference so here goes.

Barr-Reeve: Well covered by Taps already, I would just like to throw in that Bryan Hughes isn't roaming that sideline anymore so I look for them to lose some games because of that reason. However, they win the conference easy.

 

You may well have a good point here. I have talked to probably a dozen people who I respect relative to knowledge of the game, who were fans of the teams Thompson has coached, and not a one of them thinks he is a good coach. Not one. They all think he is a great person. 

I have seen coach Hughes just flat out coach the other guy many times, and I think his style (set oriented) contributed to his team always looking well coached.

But. There are horses for courses and I think it is possible that coach Thompson will gain from what is already in place at BR and will add his own (younger) approach and it might produce some good results, at least for a time. Time will tell. 

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3 hours ago, Taps Browning said:

You may well have a good point here. I have talked to probably a dozen people who I respect relative to knowledge of the game, who were fans of the teams Thompson has coached, and not a one of them thinks he is a good coach. Not one. They all think he is a great person. 

I have seen coach Hughes just flat out coach the other guy many times, and I think his style (set oriented) contributed to his team always looking well coached.

But. There are horses for courses and I think it is possible that coach Thompson will gain from what is already in place at BR and will add his own (younger) approach and it might produce some good results, at least for a time. Time will tell. 

Also, I think there could be a case made for BR not being as appealing as a job that we think it is. I heard of many coaches who were asked to be interviewed but turned it down for other jobs or to continue their position.

On the surface level, it looks great with the history, but I don’t think it is as heralded in the coaching world than many people believe. 

Take for example IU, many think it’s the Mecca, in reality in conversation with college coaches it’s really not that high of a placement. 

Thompson might have been the best candidate who hadn’t removed his name. 

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37 minutes ago, MasonHAsher said:

Also, I think there could be a case made for BR not being as appealing as a job that we think it is. I heard of many coaches who were asked to be interviewed but turned it down for other jobs or to continue their position.

On the surface level, it looks great with the history, but I don’t think it is as heralded in the coaching world than many people believe. 

Take for example IU, many think it’s the Mecca, in reality in conversation with college coaches it’s really not that high of a placement. 

Thompson might have been the best candidate who hadn’t removed his name. 

I'm reminded of the line from Gone with the Wind about how what gentlemen thinks isn't the same as what they says. Any reasonable evaluation of the IU mens basketball coaching position  puts it right near the top. I'm talking not just compensation, but also facilities and budgets for the program. Combine that with fan interest and few really compare.

Obviously Barr-Reeve High School is nowhere near to being in the same consideration as the IU job. BR is a small rural public school. Frankly,  I'm surprised at some of the people who even considered it. I'm sure the talent level now and for the next 3 or 4 years was a big factor. I think in some ways Thompson is a perfect choice and he may well improve in those aspects where he hasn't excelled and end up having an excellent run at BR. Frankly, that is what I expect to happen.

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On 10/31/2018 at 1:55 PM, Taps Browning said:

I'm reminded of the line from Gone with the Wind about how what gentlemen thinks isn't the same as what they says. Any reasonable evaluation of the IU mens basketball coaching position  puts it right near the top. I'm talking not just compensation, but also facilities and budgets for the program. Combine that with fan interest and few really compare.

Maybe now, but last year talking to D1 coaches a lot of them said they would not consider it. I'm sure with the remodeling now they would change the answer.

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18 hours ago, MasonHAsher said:

Maybe now, but last year talking to D1 coaches a lot of them said they would not consider it. I'm sure with the remodeling now they would change the answer.

How many of them would have had any chance of being offered the job? It's easy to say you wouldn't take it when you know it's never going to be offered. Beyond that virtually every coach will say he wouldn't leave his current job for X job.

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