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Offseason work builds chemistry for Downers North boys basketball

Austin Walker works on his ball handling skills during Downers Grove North's practice on Thursday. Staff photo by Sarah Minor
Austin Walker works on his ball handling skills during Downers Grove North's practice on Thursday. Staff photo by Sarah Minor

There weren’t too many highlights when the Trojans struggled last winter. But as they prepare for the 2012-13 season, head coach Jim Thomas said there is at least one bright spot.

“A lot of these guys are one-sport athletes, so we had them in the spring, summer and fall in the weight room and everything,” Thomas said. “Chemistry is not an issue for us.”

There are plenty of other positives as the season gets underway. David Edwards, a 6-foot-6 forward who started every game as a freshman last season, will be back to man the paint for North after quarterbacking the football team to a quarterfinal finish this fall.

“When we get him back and healthy, he’s going to be really good for us,” Thomas said.

Point guard Dave Henson arrived to the varsity team midway through last season and got plenty of experience. Seniors Nick Norton and Garrett Tierney, who combined to play just seven games, are back and healthy.

The fact that Thomas has had 14 of 15 players on the roster (Edwards being the exception) in preseason practice is key as he is tweaking his offense in order to up the points-per-game average. North held opponents to under 52 points per game last season, but its per-game average was just over 43 a game.

“Defensively we’ve done a great job over the past five years, but our offense has been a little lacking,” Thomas said.

Thomas is going with a new dribble-drive offense that de-emphasizes setting screens and employs more motion, with the goal being to break down the defense off the dribble, get in the paint for easy layups (or fouls) or kick the ball out for three-point shots.

“We spent a lot of time slowing it down during the summer, and they’re picking up the concepts,” Thomas said. “The kids are buying into it, and that’s a positive.”

At a glance
Jim Thomas
2011-12 RECORD 5-21
David Edwards    so.    F
Dave Henson    sr.    PG
Nick Norton    sr.    G
Garrett Tierney    sr.    F

FIRST GAME 6 p.m. Monday vs. Streamwood at Wheaton Academy tournament

Number of times the Trojans scored 50 or more points in a game last season. They won three of those games, but actually fell when they scored a season-high 80 against Eisenhower.

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