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Dissatisfying start to summer hoops season

Hockey is grewatch persbut doesn’t translate either TV or sports-talk radio. | GETTY IMAGES

Hockey is great to watch in person, but doesn’t translate to either TV or sports-talk radio. | GETTY IMAGES

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Updated: July 23, 2013 6:09AM



Points pondered while watching soccer on television the other night with a group of guys who could tell you who the 25 best “football” players in the world are right now — and can tell you in two different languages — but couldn’t name two guys who play for the Chicago Blackhawks or Miami Heat.

Three weeks into school’s-out-for-summer season and the frustration level with high school basketball in this area already is at about 9.2 on the 10-point scale.

First of all, June is the key summer month for boys hoops. That’s when the teams play together in leagues and tournaments.

Once July kicks in, AAU basketball takes over, with players scattering to all corners and playing on rosters with kids from a dozen different schools.

And when August arrives, all the basketball players who also play football hit the gridiron rather than the gym.

That said, we are waiting still for Waukegan and Round Lake high schools to formally announce their new varsity basketball coaches. In the meantime, the Bulldog and Panther players are being coached by assistant coaches at their respective schools. Unfortunately, when the new guys come aboard, it will be at the time when the players head out onto the AAU circuit.

And speaking of the players, it’s getting to where you literally can’t tell who’s where without a school enrollment sheet.

JaVairius Amos-Mays played his first year of high school basketball at Zion-Benton and the last two at North Chicago. Now, sources say that JA-M will be finishing his prep career where it started — back at Zion-Benton.

And then there’s the case of Jerome Davis, a quality 6-5/6-6 post player who would start for every team in Lake County.

The last two years, he started at Waukegan. Now that he’s a senior, sources say he’s going to play basketball at Zion-Benton. While it’s possible to confirm that from the Jerome Davis side of things,it’s been impossible so far to confirm that from the ZBTHS end.

So, who knows?

Only one thing is for sure. Longtime followers of prep hoops always have looked at the teams in the Chicago Public League with a jaded eye because all the good players in the big city seem to start at one school, and then wind up at Simeon, Young, Marshall, or Morgan Park.

And what’s going on up here is different than that?

The success of the Chicago Blackhawks has revealed another truth about the sport of hockey

It’s long been known that it’s the greatest team to watch in person, but that it does not translate to TV.

Turns out it also doesn’t translate to sports-talk radio.

With Chicago’s baseball teams dead in the water, and the Bulls and Bears in off-season mode, it’s been all hockey all the time on Chicago’s two sports-talk radio stations. And that overexposure has revealed that the sport doesn’t just doesn’t work as a discussion topic.

The biggest problem is the randomness of who are the key players on any given day. The goalies at this level are great, which takes up about five seconds of talk. And the other 18 players who suit up ... well, any of them can be the hero or goat on any given day.

Hockey, other than the goalies, is a sport without a focal point.

And so, what you get is a lot of chatter with zero to hang your hat on. Expect a low-scoring series with 1-0/2-1/2-0 dominating and you get 4-3 and 6-5. There’s just nothing about the sport to wrap your arms around.

And it’s showed ... with one notable exception.

What you’re getting is the 5 a.m. radio team talking about the Hawks’ latest game, followed by the 9 a.m. radio team making the exact same points, followed at 10 a.m. down the radio dial by two more talking heads contributing nothing new.

Thank goodness — and who’d ever though this would be said in this space — that Dan Bernstein has it figured out with is 1 p.m. show on WSCR-AM (670). He’s the one guy on the air the last three weeks who consistently came up with a thoughtful angle on playoff hockey.

He doesn’t repeat all the same points that were brought up in the eight hours before he hit the air, and he doesn’t have the same expert guests on to say the same things, and he doesn’t get stuck with the same callers.

Back to soccer/football for a minute.

Team USA is an absolute 100-percent lock to qualify out of its group for the next World Cup. Yet, media-types will bend over backward to avoid saying that because once that’s acknowledged, the remaining qualifying games becomes as meaningless as a “friendly.”

These days, happiness is paying $3.99 for a gallon of gas ...

Route 45/Washington Street, just east of the CLC campus in Grayslake.

Waukegan High School is searching for a cheerleading coach, which means we’ve reached the end of the Stacy McKie Era.

The gut feeling here is that this is not going to work out very well at all.

Before McKie, Waukegan’s cheer program was non-competitive. Under her watch, the program advanced to the point where it could compete with other quality squads on the varsity level.

Of course, it was under McKie’s watch that Waukegan’s cheer squad got DQ’d from last winter’s IHSA sectional tournament when an ineligible athlete took to the mat and performed with the team.

Here’s the thing about the sport of cheering: It is very much driven by the coach. If your school has a coach driven to develop a championship team and the school does not have a girls gymnastics team, it can to happen for the squad.

The problem is that there aren’t many of those coaches around. Grant has one. Wauconda has one. Grayslake North has one.

They are not easy to find. Good luck to the Bulldogs on this one.

The NBA draft is next Thursday evening, with Warren High School grad Brandon Paul eligible.

According to Web site www.drafttek.com, the 6-4 guard won’t be among the 60 players chosen in the two-round draft.

Hopefully, Mr. Draft Tek is wrong.



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