The size, speed and discipline of this year’s Cyclone men’s basketball team is enough to take this crew far in 2017-18.
Last season saw a new head coach in Anthony Amarino, who led the team of mostly sophomores to a 17-15 overall record and 8-6 finish in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference. They were a high-scoring group that defeated the Skyway champions and nearly usurped another nationally ranked squad in playoffs. Although the Cyclones lost big scorer Tommy Demogerontas, who was an All-Region player along with Nick Sims, as well as All-Conference players Jordan Radcliff and Jason Roland, the current roster is loaded with talent.
This season sees the return of David Gray (Oak Forest), a 6-foot-3 guard who was red-shirted last season, and De’Angelo Robinson (Chicago Vocational), a 6-5 forward who was injured and out of commission after the first practice last year. Although only standing 5-foot-9, Deshawn Wilson (Zion-Brenton) has the skill and speed to throw off any defense attempting to guard him. Size comes from 6-foot-9 transfer Liddell Davis (Proviso West/Triton College), 6-foot-10 center Michael Drynan (Evergreen Park) and 6-foot-6 forward Cortez King (Homewood-Flossmoor).
“We can be very good. I’m expecting a lot of wins and looking to play well. We think we can play with anybody we match up against,” Amarino said. “The best thing about these guys is they all like each other. These kids come to practice to play hard. They’ll talk their garbage on the court, but they’re a close-knit group, which helps. If we can stay healthy and grade eligible, I think we can compete with teams in conference. And there are a lot of good teams.”
The first goal for the Cyclones is to win conference, the second is to go deep into the playoffs, and the whole objective is to get to Danville, where the national tournament is held. Optimism is high, especially with this bunch.
“We just need to play the guys the right way and get better each game. They want to play hard. We’ll play teams we struggle with, but it’ll happen,” Amarino said. “We have a good chance to win. Our guys are not afraid of any other team.”
The Cyclone home opener is Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m., against Trinity Christian College JV.