Al Allen's young OPRF basketball team is learning fast how to make its coach happy, but Allen hasn't been too pleased with the way his Huskies have been performing of late.
"Obviously we're struggling," said Allen after the Huskies (8-3, 2-1) went 1-2 at the Pontiac Holiday tournament two weeks ago. "Bloomington handled us as if we were an 8th grade basketball team. We have to make changes. I need guys on the court who are going to listen and do the right things for 32 minutes. It's a decent team when the players do what they are told."
OPRF allowed Pontiac's Kevin Lyons to rattle off 27 points, including seven three-pointers, in an 81-71 first round loss. Allen attributed the inert defense to a lack of concentration.
"How many times is a guy going to take a three-pointer before you start guarding him from the top?" asked Allen rhetorically. "We have to do a better job of listening. I warned myself going into the Pontiac tourney that I have a young team and that I need to be patient with them, but it's frustrating when there are a group of guys that won't listen to instruction."
OPRF, who jumped back into West Suburban (Silver) Conference play with a game against Downers Grove North last night (after deadline), relies heavily on speed over height. The tallest starter on the Huskies is Jason Pontone at 6-foot-4. But sophomores Iman Shumpert and Daniel Barnes, along with juniors Phil Gary and Lamont Sanders, have made up for the team's shortcomings. Sanders averaged 19 points per game in the tournament, and Barnes came off the bench to score 16 in the loss to Pontiac.
The Huskies will try and bring a smile to their coach's face when they travel to Bremen on Saturday, a match-up that kicks off a four-game roadtrip schedule. OPRF has five days off before resuming conference play at Hinsdale Central on Jan. 20. The team then travels to Proviso West on Jan. 21, followed by a trip to rival Lyons Township on Jan. 27.