2020 'Pick 6' Renegade Boys Basketball Week-11 Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


I remember when Hanover Central won one game and I'm not a memory expert because it was just six year ago. Nineteen years ago, HC was 0-20. Next week, Hanover hosts Class 3A Sectional 18 and they Wildcats (20-2) will be favored after the first 20-win season in school history. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MUNSTER (02-22-2020) While I’m sitting here waiting for the state tournament draw, I’m thinking about change.

I think about change at this time every year. Change to the game.

‘Indiana’s game’ is stubborn. Paved over with tradition. WE continue to do the same thing, the same way, every year, and why?

Because we’ve always done it that way.

What do I want to change about basketball in general and Indiana basketball in particular?

Ride with me here.

Move the 3-point line back five feet.

It's too easy. It distorts the game. Take away the ‘corner 3’ that is again, just too easy. In high school, kids want to be taught the game and coaches want to teach it. Passing and dribbling are crucial skills. The entire concept of basketball is to get good shots closer to the basket. But why learn how when the other side takes 30 3-point shots, makes 10 and beats you by one?

Eliminate the 5-second ‘held ball’ call on a player who isn't holding the ball. Officials can't call it because it's difficult to define. If you can dribble the basketball and keep it away from the other side, that is the essence of the sport, whether you are ‘advancing’ it or not. Call five seconds when the ball is being held, not when the ‘holder’ is dribbling.

Each player should get six fouls. Five fouls is a throwback to another time. The game is faster than it was 70 years ago. There is contact. Five fouls is a totally arbitrary (read: made up) number and it should have been bumped up to six decades ago.

‘Blocking’ fouls should not count against the offending players’ total. Players should be encouraged to take charges. The offensive players should get foul shots, but the defensive player should not be charged with a foul that could remove him from the game. Basketball favors the offense far too much as it is.

There is no such thing as a ‘Euro Step’. That’s an extra step that has been baked into the game to allow players to style and profile on the court. Next time you get control of some basketball video, slow it down and look at the ‘Euro step’, the exaggerated misdirection walk to the basket which referees allow because, in theory, you have one step to ‘gather’ the basketball. That’s like going to the bank and ‘gathering' all their money. The Eurostep is three steps. It's traveling. It's cheating.

No one should ever play two games in one day. Professional players don’t do it. College players don’t do it. Why should high school players be forced to do it? I’ve long since tired of the logic that "Kids play all day in the summer so they have no problem playing two games at the regional.”

No one plays two full meaningful basketball games in one day and doesn’t see their play suffer. No one. If the sectional tournament plays on Friday and Saturday, there is no real reason the regionals can't do the same.

I’ve got about 10 more ideas. I could go on for hours, but I’ll save some for next year. Looks like the sectional pairings are out.

1. (4A) Munster (19-1)
2019 (22-5), 2018 (17-7), 2017 (13-12)

MUNSTER: I’ve been headed in this direction all season. Munster has won 17 in a row and I can't explain their November loss to a Hammond (16-4) team that is not their equal. The Mustangs’ 2-3 zone defense has meant hard times to every team they’ve met. The Mustangs looked as good or better than Chesterton when they beat them 46-45 on Feb. 11. The starting lineup is solid. The wild horses should finish with a second consecutive 20-win season. And when you look at 4A Sectional 1, there’s a lot of teams there Munster has already defeated.

The DRAW: Munster would be a lock here if they didn’t have to play arch-rival Lake Central for a third time. But the Mustangs do get a first round bye in the 7-team East Chicago Sectional, so they have to be happy with that.

2. (4A) Chesterton (20-2)
2019 (19-7), 2018 (21-4), 2017 (16-9)

CHESTERTON: The Trojans lost on the road 46-45 at Munster (18-1) on Feb. 11, but dropping them to No. 2 is more of a nod to the Mustangs than it is a slap to Chesterton. The Trojans came back to top Hammond (16-4) and Valparaiso (13-8) last week to reach the 20-win mark for the second time in three years. Jake Wadding (17.4 ppg.), Travis Grayson (12.8 ppg.) and Alex Schmidt (10.0 ppg.) lead the scoring for a team that has lost two games by one point each.

The DRAW: Chesterton did not get a bye, but they play Lowell (10-11), a team they have beaten by 24 points. You ALWAYS want a bye because you can't lose a game you don’t have to play.

3. (1A) 21st Century (19-2)
2019 (19-7), 2018 (21-7), 2017 (18-10)

GARY: The ‘Century 21 boys’ lost in Indianapolis to Crispus Attucks 104-99 last week, but they topped Cathedral (14-5) by nine and ran away from Kouts (20-2) by 15 points. The Cougars have lost three games by two, three and five points. Johnell Davis averages 32 points a game and I don't know how many teams in Class 1A can stop him. A win over River Forest and 21st Century reaches the 20-win mark for the second time in three years.

The DRAW: Kouts and 21st Century both got first round byes in the Class 1A Sectional 49, which means they almost certainly will meet in the final game in Kouts. Johnell Davis scored 38 against Kouts last week and the Mustangs can't slow 21st Century down because Kouts can't play slow. This is a lock. The 21st Century boys are a prohibitive favorite here.

4. (4A) Hammond (16-4)
2019 (18-8), 2018 (19-6), 2017 (15-10)

HAMMOND: The purple boys had back-to-back losses last week to Bowman Academy (11-6) and Chesterton (20-2), but I don’t see anybody climbing over them into the fourth spot here. Of the 16 wins, the big one is that early December 67-55 over Munster (19-1) and, while I still think Munster is a better team, Hammond seems headed towards a 20-win season. Harold Woods (16.4 ppg.) and Darrell Reed (17.3 ppg.) get the party started for the Wildcats, who will end the regular season averaging 70 points a game.

The DRAW: Hammond got a bye in the 6-team Class 3A Sectional 17 and they’ll be a big favorite to get to the regional level.

5. (4A) Michigan City (16-5)
2019 (10-14), 2018 (10-16), 2017 (19-7)

MICHIGAN CITY: The Wolves extended a shaky win streak to five last week with an 83-82 win over Merrillville, a game where they led by 20. This team has never seen a three-point attempt they didn't like and freshman guard Jamie Hodges is a wild child. The big win was 73-68 over sectional rival South Bend Adams (19-3), but they did lead most of the way in the 74-68 overtime loss to Chesterton (20-2) on Feb. 6.

The DRAW: Michigan City did not get a bye and they have to play arch-rival LaPorte in the Class 4A LaPorte Sectional. There’s the first ‘bad draw’ in the poll.

6. (4A) Valparaiso (14-8)
2019 (21-6), 2018 (20-6), 2017 (21-4)

VALPARAISO: Valpo lost their shot at the DAC title with a narrow 54-51 loss to Chesterton (20-2) last week. Valpo lost to five teams that have won 15 to 20 times including Munster (19-1), 21st Century (19-3), Jeffersonville (16-5) and Michigan City (16-5). In a season full of big scorers and high fliers, Valpo has limited firepower so they slow the pace. Brandon Mack (11.9 ppg.) is their top scorer. The Vikings won't win 20 as they did the last four seasons, but the 4A Sectional 2 is not out of reach.

The DRAW: Valparaiso is at home in 4A Sectional 2. They get a bye and they can't see Chesterton (20-2) until the championship game. The Vikings got everything they could ask for here.

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Revised: February 23, 2020 .