Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week 2: Team 4 Earns Another Victory with Hustle & Effort

     1              2              F
Team 2                 26           21           47           1-1
Team 4                 40           27           67           2-0    
With Zack Krupp making his season debut and without the services of Justin Perlut, Team 4 took on Team 2, captained by Joe Jenkins and Tobias Green, in a battle of 1-0 teams. From the opening tip, we immediately outhustled and outrebounded our opponents by grabbing offensive rebounds and getting easy buckets.

Trying my best to not be like Shaq from the foul line
We also looked great with defensive rebounding, boxing out sizable players and beating them down the court for transition baskets and 3-pointers from Vince and Brian. After building an early lead, we did get sloppy in the middle of the first half as Jenkins and company began trapping us, forcing us into a few bad passes/turnovers. However, once we cracked the code and got better ball movement, we found things easier going. Once Krupp knocked down his first 3-pointer, he began knocking down more shots and also driving to the hole with authority.  Couple that with several surprisingly easy layup opportunities for our team, and we built up a 40-26 halftime lead.

Matching up on defense
The second half was more of the same story-a strong start, a little lull in the middle, and a strong finish to put the game out of reach. With our team, it was nice to know we were going to get out on the fastbreak and either get an easy hoop or find a shooter for a three. Overall, it was a great team win to get to 2-0. We also may have found a team photographer in my dad, Bill Smith Sr., who took some photos of us in action.

Happy to get a win
We followed it up with a devotional titled “Which Jesus?”, a discussion on how we sometimes tend to define who God is and the danger in that.

Week 3 is a 10:30 AM tip against Team 1 captained by Gabe Clayborne and Josh Settles. Without sharpshooters Brian Ramsland (in Arizona) and Justin Perlut (lower body injury), we will have to work hard to get our third victory.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 1: Team 4 (Insert Better Team Name Here) Squeaks Out Victory, 54-53

                               1             2             F
Team 4                 30           24           54           1-0
Team 3                 17           36           53           0-1

Given the luxury of sleeping in and playing the 10:30 AM game, we came out hot in the game against Lafayette Bell and company. With steals, fastbreak points, Eric Freckman looking like Pau Gasol in the post, and some 3-pointers, we built a nice lead in the first half. We played solid team D on Lafayette, forcing others to beat us. With a 30-17 lead at halftime, a strong start to the second half could put this game out of hand.

This, however, was not the case. Lafayette got going offensively, and Kameron Hill also knocked down some 3-pointers to get them back into the game.  Couple that with Billy looking like Shaq on the foul line in the second half and the offense looking a little stagnant, and we had a ballgame.

They cut the lead to just one point in the last few minutes with a chance to take the lead for the first time in the game, but our D held strong. Also, Ben Asper got fouled shooting a three and knocked down all three attempts (with the help of a shooter’s roll on the first one). He knocked down two more big ones late, making him 5-of-5 at the charity stripe during crunch time.

Leading 54-51 with 2.8 seconds left, Team 3 called timeout and drew up a play to send the game into overtime. With the suspense high, the game finished on a layup at the buzzer, which we were more than willing to give up. A 54-53 win was a good start to the season, and we did this without 6-foot-5 Zack Krupp.

Week 2 is an 8:30 AM tip against Team 2, captained by Joe Jenkins and Tobias Green. They won 55-29 in Week 1, so it’ll be a battle of 1-0 teams.

Harvest Hoops Team Preview Part 2

With the Harvest Hoops season starting, here is the player breakdown for Team 4 provided by Billy Smith in last week's email:

Ben Asper (captain): Nicknamed "The Golden Child", give him an open 3-pointer or a baseline drive, and you'll pay the price. (Go to bed old man, we are playing at 6 AM tomorrow!)

Billy Smith (captain): Will have to contend with guys 4-5 inches taller and with much more muscle. 

Brian Ramsland: His 3-pointers go in on a line and faster than the blink of an eye.

Eric Freckman: My fellow partner in crime on the glass, Freck crashes the glass harder than anyone in the league. Eric will give teams that don't box out (most of them) fits.

Joey Hillenbrand: Have never met you, but can't wait to play with you. If you have any family ties to former MLB player Shea Hillenbrand, then we will be golden!

Justin Perlut: A lethal shooter from deep, Justin also penetrates and finds open guys all the time. He also plays hard-nosed defense.

Vince Bartolome: A great shooter (I sense a theme here), Vince will knock down big shots and handle the ball as well.

Zack Krupp: If you are 6-foot-5 and can shoot, you will fit in great with our squad (minus the 6-foot-5 part).

Harvest Hoops Team Preview Part 1

With the Harvest Hoops season starting, here is the player breakdown for Team 4 provided by Ben Asper in last week's email:

Ben Asper (captain): The odds are 50/50 that he makes it through the season un-injured.  Too often his mind thinks he is 23, but his body doesn't follow along.  He will be playing more at the three point line and less above the rim.

Billy Smith (captain): The fastest guy in the league...does he ever get tired?  He will have more fast break points than anyone, and when his Bill Cartwright jumper is on, watch out.

Brian Ramsland: Even though he's one of the oldest players in the league, he makes players half his age look silly.  When he gets bored of making normal 3 pointers, he shoots them blindfolded to challenge himself.

Eric Freckman: Pound for pound, one of the most physical players in the league.  He has even started to add a three point shot to his repertoire, but watch out for those elbows, they are deadly.

Joey Hillenbrand: First year in the league and he plans to take the league by storm.  He will be bringing some international flavor because of his time recently spent in South Africa.

Justin Perlut: He will shoot three pointers a few feet behind the line when he gets bored of making normal three pointers.  He has been known to take a charge even though his body might not agree with the decision.

Vince Bartolome: He has come out of a four year retirement to light up the league with his three pointers.  He may be a little rusty like MJ was with the Wizards, but if he can play like MJ with the Wizards, we will be happy.

Zack Krupp: Another first timer in the league, with his 6'5 size and three point shooting ability, he will be a lot like Jimmy Butler, doing it inside and outside.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Suljic Named National Player of the Week

PALATINE, Ill. – The NJCAA national office announced the Men's Basketball Players  of the Week, and Harper freshman forward Admir Suljic (Chicago, Ill. /Lane Tech) has been named the NJCAA Division III National Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 1-7.

In Suljic's one game during that time period, he played a huge part in the Hawks' 90-81 road win against the Olivet Nazarene University JV team. The 6-foot-5 forward poured in a career-high 35 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including seven 3-pointers. He showed off his versatility as he also snagged 12 rebounds, handed out six assists, and blocked three shots.

Men's Basketball: Admir Suljic National Player of the Week 2014
Suljic was named the NJCAA Div. III Player of the Week. (Jim Cummins)
"Admir is a high-level player. He has worked tirelessly on transitioning to the speed of the college game, and it was only a matter of time before he found his groove and had a statement game," said Harper head coach Justin Welke.

In 11 games this year, Suljic is averaging 16.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.2 SPG. The freshman is shooting 47.5 percent (28-of-59) from 3-point territory.

"He's so dependable and committed; he never takes a day off and always finds a way to balance and prioritize," Welke said. "Both athletically and academically, he embodies what the Harper basketball program is all about."

Harper Men Close the Deal

Box Score

PALATINE, Ill. –The Harper College men's basketball team held an 11-point halftime lead over Illinois Valley Community College , but a reenergized Eagles squad took a lead for a brief period midway through the second half. The Hawks (6-7) regained their composure and outscored their opponents 23-12 over the final 8:05 to come away with a 77-69 victory.

Jazz Drane's layup with 8:55 left gave the Eagles (5-7) a 57-54 lead, but Dvonta Jones (Joliet, Ill./Joliet West) and Robert Hudson (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Conant), who both came off the bench, sparked a Harper comeback. Jones' free throws cut the deficit to one, and Hudson got to the line and knocked down a pair as well. Hudson's layup with 5:54 remaining gave the Hawks a 60-59 lead that they would not relinquish.

Reigning NJCAA Region IV Div. III Player of the Week Admir Suljic came to life offensively, knocking down a 3-pointer to push the lead to 66-61. On the next possession, Suljic converted a three-point play to extend the advantage to 69-61 with 2:56 left. The Eagles would get no closer than within six in the closing minutes.

Men's Basketball: Jalon Roundy 2014-15
The Hawks came away with a 77-69 victory over Illinois Valley on Tuesday night. (Jim Cummins)
Suljic scored a team-high 18 points and added seven rebounds. Jones, Hudson, and Jalon Roundy (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) each scored 10 points in the victory, and Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Tyree Coe led the Eagles with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

Illinois Valley struggled from the foul line, making only 11-of-23 attempts. Harper converted 17-of-24 attempts from the line.

The Hawks closed on a 13-2 run over the final 5:59 of the first half for a 36-25 lead, highlighted by a pair of Benton dunks and a Suljic dunk.

Harper plays its next game on Thursday at Richard J. Daley College (0-12) in Chicago.

Herzog, Hawks Find a Way

Box Score
Daily Herald Article

The Harper College women's basketball team led 56-55 with 2:34 remaining in the game against Illinois Valley Community College on Tuesday night when Hawks leading scorer Joslyn Nicholson (/Cary-Grove) fouled out. Forced to play 4-on-5, the Hawks, led by point guard Kim Herzog (/Buffalo Grove), held on for a dramatic 65-63 win.

Women's Basketball: Kim Herzog 2014-15
Herzog scored nine of her 16 points in the closing minutes to help the Hawks get a 65-63 victory over Illinois Valley. (Jim Cummins)
Herzog scored nine of her 16 points down the stretch, including several key buckets. She split a pair of free throws to make it 57-55 with 2:10 remaining. After a stop on the defensive end, Herzog calmly knocked down two more free throws to give the Hawks (6-7) a 59-55 advantage with 1:34 left. Following an Illinois Valley (2-7) turnover, Herzog made a driving layup with under a minute remaining to stretch the lead to 61-55. A free throw from Ashonte Sims (/Normal Community West) gave Harper a 62-55 edge with 44 seconds left.

The Eagles made things very interesting in the closing seconds. Kaylee Kingen knocked down a 3-pointer, and Mia Porter scored off a Harper turnover to cut the lead to 62-60. After another Hawks blunder, Kingen went to the line and split a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game.

The Hawks turned it over again, but Lane Winkler (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows) stole a Raley Mauck (team-high 17 points) pass and was fouled. She sank both free throws to give Harper a 64-61 lead. Illinois Valley's Becca Herrman (14 points) knocked down a pair of free throws with four seconds left to trim the lead to 64-63.

The Eagles fouled Herzog on the ensuing inbound pass. She hit one of two from the line, and Kingen's three-quarter-court shot came up short, giving Harper the victory.

"With only four players, I knew that we had to step up. I just took charge," Herzog said. "It makes me feel really good because I love to score, and I haven't really been doing it that much."

Nicholson, the reigning NJCAA Region IV Div. III Player of the Week, led the Hawks with a game-high 29 points (11-of-22 shooting) and 15 rebounds. Harper also got 10 points each from Winkler and Ashonte Sims (/Normal Community West) and a stout effort defensively from Shannon Koch (/Prospect).

Harper plays its next game on Thursday evening against Ancilla College (7-5) inside the Wellness & Sports Center. Tipoff is set for 5 PM, and you can follow the Hawks' Twitter, @HarperHawks , for live in-game updates.