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Downers South boys hoops 'starting from scratch' after four starters graduate

Caption
(Matthew Piechalak)
Downers Grove South senior guard Tre Simmons goes through a fundamental shooting drill during a practice on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. Staff photo by Matthew Piechalak

Downers Grove South captured its second consecutive regional title last winter, but the 2012-13 version of the team will look much different.

Four starters are gone, including a trio of three-year varsity players — Kevin Honn, Jamall Millison and Jerron Wilbut — that averaged double figures in scoring. Senior point guard Danny Spinuzza is the lone returning starter.

“There was a lot of talent lost. We’re pretty much starting from scratch,” head coach Jay Baum said. “But we did play 50 games over the summer, so we know who these kids are and what they can do. We just have to put it together.”

Baum’s plans for putting it together start on the defensive end and go forward from there.

“We want to be a good team defensively and the offense will take care if itself,” Baum said. “Good defense leads to good offense.”

While Spinuzza is the lone returning starter, Jordan Cannon started a handful of games last season and Robert Mara saw his fair share of playing time. Kevin Hall, Sean Love, Scottie McNellis and Tre Simmons were with the varsity team last season, but Baum knows it will take a little time for the roster to jell.

“It’s one thing to play three games on a Saturday in the summer. It’s another to play Friday night in front of 2,000 people,” Baum said.

The Mustangs will be tested right off the bat at the St. Charles East Thanksgiving tournament, where they will face North Lawndale, Plainfield East and St. Charles North in pool play. St. Joseph, St. Charles East and Schaumburg could be waiting in the tourney finale Nov. 24.

South will also face some tough teams in West Suburban Gold play. Proviso East played in the state championship game last season, and Baum expects the Pirates to run away with the conference. He also said that Willowbrook, Leyden and Addison Trail have improved from last season, but the Mustangs can only worry about themselves, play their way and look to keep improving as the season progresses.

“If we handle the ball well, rebound and play good defense, we’ll be in a good position,” Baum said.

At a glance
COACH
Jay Baum2011-12 RECORD 23-6TOP PLAYERS Jordan Cannon    sr.    G Kevin Hall    sr.    C Sean Love    sr.    G Robert Mara    sr.    C Scottie McNellis    sr.    F Tre Simmons    sr.    G Danny Spinuzza    sr.    PGFIRST GAME 5 p.m. Tuesday vs. North Lawndale at St. Charles East invite

9 Number of postseason trophies won by the six teams (Proviso East, Warren, Plainfield East, Metea Valley and St. Ignatius) that defeated the Mustangs’ last season. Proviso East won four and Warren won two.

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