Coming off a14-13 record, the outlook for Lyons Township basketball this season perhaps should reflect what a consistently inconsistent season like last year offers when entering a new campaign. More simply put, anything can happen.
While LT coach Conte Stamas probably would acknowledge his team is a bit of an unproven commodity with so many new varsity players, he believes this group’s work ethic and chemistry are strong building blocks for a successful season.
“We played well against some of the better teams that we faced last year,” Stamas said. “However, we also struggled at times, particularly in conference play.”
Although it’s true that the Lions did not fare well in West Suburban (Silver) Conference play with a 4-8 record, the team won its Thanksgiving tourney and also had some impressive conference wins, along with non-conference victories over Farragut and Argo. Ultimately, the Lions’ season ended with a 63-42 regional final loss to a very talented Proviso East squad, which featured future 6-foot-10-inch University of Illinois freshman Brian Carlwell and Jacob Pullen, a Kansas State recruit, on the Pirates’ loaded roster at the time.
Flipping the script to this season, Stamas has penciled in a trio of juniors, Grant Porter, Matt Hirt, and Thomas McMillin, along with two seniors, Craig Krzykowski and Dan Olund to comprise his starting five.
Porter and Hirt, at 6-4 and 6-6, respectively, will provide rebounding, defense and scoring for the Lions. McMillin, who played well on the sophomore level, will take over at point guard and is expected to run the Lions’ offense, which stresses player and ball movement. Olund, a 6-3 forward, is also a competent shooter, while the 6-3 Krzykowski, a varsity soccer player as well, is one of the team’s better defenders with great footwork and quickness.
With this infusion of new players to the roster, Stamas will also call upon a deep bench to add help at both ends of the floor. Six-foot-2 senior guard Matt Mon, 6-3 junior forward Brian Lorenz and promising 6-2 sophomore Colin Allodi should all see plenty of playing time. Eddie Viliunas (6-3) and 6-7 Jeff Adams, who both played on the Lions’ football team, will add a nice blend of athleticism, toughness and size to further bolster the Lions’ depth and versatility.
Stamas, entering his eighth season at Lyons, believes his team will improve with game experience but he also quickly points out a rugged conference schedule that will provide plenty of tough competition. On paper, Hinsdale Central (four returning starters), Glenbard West and Oak Park (ranked No. 24 in the Chicago Sun-Times pre-season basketball poll) should all vie for the conference title.
Lyons opens its season by hosting their Thanksgiving tournament this week. The Lions play tonight against Gordon Tech, then play Lincoln-Way Central on Friday and wrap-up the tournament play with a game Saturday against Deerfield. All games are at 7:30 p.m. at the LT North campus. After a week off, the Lions will begin conference play at Hinsdale Central on Dec. 1 (7:30 p.m.).