Now in his 37th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Southwestern Illinois College, Jay Harrington has more than 770 career wins and losing seasons have been few and far between. In fact, when asked recently, Harrington couldn’t call the last sub-500 season for the Blue Storm.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the last time we’ve had a losing record here,” Harrington said Monday. “We have been the best team in the region for a long time. We’re the program that every other ream wants to beat. Every team wants to beat SWIC and we’ve been able to maintain our success by doing things the right away. Through hard work.”
After beating Rend Lake on Monday, the Blue Storm improved to 9-11 for the season. SWIC will try to stretch its winning streak to three Wednesday when it plays host to Lincoln Trail College at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re starting to play a little better. We lost to John A. Logan (College) 69-59 but we played well in the second half then against the top team in our region — Vincennes — we were down one with three minutes left, turned the ball over four straight times and got beat by 11 points,” Harrington said. “We won at Southeastern (Illinois) College by six and while they’ve only won four games in the region, one was at (John A.) Logan which is the second best team. I see signs that maybe we’re starting to get it a little bit better. We’ve slowed down the offense a little bit and it seems to be working.’’
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While the Blue Storm offense has struggled most of the season, freshman Jaalam Hill is becoming one of the top junior college players in the nation. Hill scored 32 points against Vincennes and added 27 in SWIC’S 76-70 win at Southeastern. The 6-6 guard/forward is currently averaging 19.2 points per game.
“He was third in the league in scoring, but with the last two games and the fact that the two players above him have struggled a little bit, he may be first now,” Harrington said “The problem is that he’s having two and three players coming at him at all times. He’s tired at the end of games now.
“Our defense has been solid all year. It’s on offense where we’ve struggled a bit. But like I said, I’ve seen signs that maybe we’ve got some kids who are buying into what we want done.”
SWIC women fall again
The SWIC women’s team saw its losing streak reach seven in a row on Monday with a loss at Rend Lake College.
The Blue Storm (5-12) will host Lincoln Trail College at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.