Last season was Nick Latorre’s first as head boys basketball coach at . The team had minimal returning varsity experience and went through plenty of growing pains en route to a 5-19 record.
“It’s a whole new philosophy, a whole new style, a whole new culture,” Latorre said of his first season as a Red Devil after nine years as Driscoll Catholic’s head coach and two years as an assistant at Oswego. “This year has been much smoother to start the season out.”
Latorre said it's hard to describe his philosophy in one phrase, but he said his teams practice hard, play hard, and take pride in competing. Senior forward Tom Garvin spoke to that.
“I feel like I’ve never been on a team that works as hard as we do in practice,” Garvin said.
That practice will be put to the test Friday when Hinsdale Central opens its 2011-12 home schedule against West Suburban Silver foe York. The Red Devils are 2-1 coming out of last week's Hinsdale South Thanksgiving Tip-Off, where they beat Hinsdale South and Carl Sandburg but lost to Benet. Senior guard Brad Anlauf and junior guard Alec Hutcherson were voted to the all-tournament team.
Anlauf and Hutcherson are among several key Red Devils returning from last season’s varsity team along with Garvin and junior guard Brian Owens. The team has four seniors, 10 juniors, two sophomores, and a freshman.
Anlauf said the team has a good foundation towards rebuilding a program that has struggled in recent years.
“We have a lot of talented young guys; I think we have a good base,” Anlauf said.
Hinsdale Central is an undersized team, Hutcherson said, but one that can score. The guard said making three-pointers and letting small-but-solid post players out-maneuver opponents down low will be the team’s strengths on the offensive end.
Latorre said his team lacks that one offensive go-to guy, but balance is there.
“One thing that is an advantage for us is we’ve got more than four options out of our starting group,” Latorre said. “We have four or five guys capable of scoring 20 points.”
On the defensive end, Latorre said his team will have to work hard to rebound and play low-post defense against bigger opponents.
Sophomore Ian Bunting is the tallest Red Devil at 6-foot-7. Freshman Matt Rafferty is 6-foot-6; Garvin and junior Evan Blust are all 6-foot-4.
“We’ve been working on rebounding,” Hutcherson said. “We play in a tough league with a lot of good big guys.”
That Silver league includes Friday’s opponent York, who graduated star Will Sullivan and is under the leadership of new head coach Tom Kleinschmidt. On Jan. 20 and Feb. 17 Hinsdale Central plays perennial rival Lyons Township, who lost to eventual state champion Simeon in a sectional final last season.
The Red Devils play Glenbard West, who beat the Red Devils twice last season, on Jan. 21 and Feb. 14, and Oak Park River Forest on Dec. 17 and Feb. 3.
There is also one more game against York, two against Downers North, and two against Proviso West on the conference schedule.
Latorre admitted he gives the cheesy answer when asked what his expectations are this season. Forget about the scoreboard and the standings, he said.
“The goal of the team is to reach our full potential, whatever that may be; I want to see us play as well as we’re capable of playing,” Latorre said.
How does he know if his team has reached that level of play?
“Just by the brand of basketball that you’re playing,” Latorre said, “and the effort and the way the team competes day in and day out.”