Banged-up SWIC men have busy schedule

News-DemocratJanuary 7, 2014 

Just when Southwestern Illinois College men's basketball coach Jay Harrington didn't think things could get much worse, a coil break in the boiler room at the main gym on Monday caused practice to be cut short.

There was a bright side, however -- at least nobody else got hurt.

Scheduled to open the second half of its 2013-14 season Wednesday at Lakeland College, the Blue Storm (8-3) head into the game just like they ended the first semester -- injured.

"In my 40 years as a college basketball coach, I've never seen anything like it. We get to the point where we think we're getting a little healthier and then another two to four others go down,'' Harrington said. "If I had to say how many our players are in basketball shape right now, I would say three, and maybe four.

"That's the thing. Even when we get healthy it's going to take time for the kids to get in basketball shape and get their timing down again. I'm to the point where I don't know what to do.''

Unlike the Rolling Stones, time isn't on the side the banged-up Blue Storm either.

Battered and bruised, SWIC faces a rugged schedule in the upcoming two weeks which includes tough games with Lincoln Trail College, Lewis and Clark Community College, Shawnee and national power Vincennes University.

Still among the Blue Storm walking wounded are sophomores Brandon Book and Jacquail Townser, both of which missed playing time during half of the season. Shooting guard Kyle Lemons, sophomore forward Jacob Tolbert, Roxana native Hunter Reine, Romondo Ray and 6-foot-10 center Ekene Anchebe are also far less then 100 percent healthy.

In addition, sophomore guard Michael Schmidt has been battling flu-like symptoms.

"He couldn't even talk out loud. He was that sick,'' Harrington said of Schmidt. "The problem is that we've got a tough road ahead of us. Lakeland is the top team in our region and they were able to play a game on Saturday because they didn't get as much snow as we got.

"Then we come back on Saturday and host a very good Lincoln Trail team. There isn't any time to rest. We're at the stage of our season where we're playing two and three times a week against top teams every game.''

After traveling to Lakeland College today, SWIC will host Lincoln Trail College on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Blue Storm will then host nearby Godfrey-based Lewis and Clark College in a makeup game at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Although a little discouraged, Harrington said he still has high hopes for the Blue Storm -- a squad he said was one of his most talented ever when the season began back in the warm days of early November.

"One of my coaching colleagues said to be the other day that some seasons are just like this. When it rains, it pours,'' Harrington said. "But I will never give up on these kids. We just need to get healthy, plain and simple.

"I still believe that if we can get healthy, that when it comes time for the tournament in March that we are the most dangerous team in the region -- a team that has the talent to get to the national tournament.''

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or dcriddle@bnd.com

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