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Men’s Basketball: ECC hoping to pile up points

Former Westminster Christian player BrandCork is back for ElgCommunity College men's basketball team this season. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

Former Westminster Christian player Brandon Cork is back for the Elgin Community College men's basketball team this season. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 5, 2012 10:51PM

When Elgin Community College basketball coach Reed Nosbisch had the majority of his taller lineup move on after last season, he switched styles to something more conducive to recruited talent as well as his own tastes.

Then he got out the Loyola Marymount/Hank Gathers videos to show his team the style they would be playing.

“I want them to go 94 feet for 40 minutes at both ends and try to put 100 on the board,” he said. “That’s what the kids wanted to hear. Now, we’re not going to be shooting 50 3s a game, but ultimately we want to play as fast as we can and not be in a hurry, find the happy medium.”

A fast medium.

With only four players back from last year’s second-place Region IV finisher that went 16-16, and only five players with junior college experience, the early goal will be learning. In fact, Nosbisch said he felt a little like John Calipari after watching Kentucky All-Access when the Wildcats coach said his staff had to do more teaching and less coaching.

“There’s really no experience coming back in terms of starting,” he said. “We have kids experienced, but not at starting roles.”

Brandon Tyson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Joliet West, is the top returning scorer at 7.5 points per game (4 rebounds per game). Former Jacobs High and Lithuania product Vytautas Jaras is the team’s inside force at 6-8 (2.8 ppg), and in the backcourt former Westminster player Brandon Cork (1.8 ppg) and Thornwood’s Kenny Hughes (1.7 ppg) return.

They also have former Hampshire guard Shyler Ralphs, who played for ECC two years ago but did not play last season.

Cork’s backcourt decision-making impresses Nosbisch.

“He’s not the quickest in terms of foot speed but he understands positioning roles and has a high basketball IQ,” Nosbisch said.

Ralphs is the defensive specialist who draws the opponent’s top scoring threat. Hughes, at 5-7, is likened by Nosbisch to former Detroit Pistons great Vinny Johnson, “The Microwave.”

“He’s a total shooter, scores in a hurry,” Nosbisch said.

While Jaras is 6-8, he’s not a power player inside and will fit the up-tempo style.

“He’s more of a European-style player and not a true back-to-basket post,” Nosbisch said.

The recruiting class includes several players with impressive credentials, like former Hillcrest guard Brent Buchanan, former Lake Park forward Zach Cooper, forward Brandon Smith of Lansing, Mich., and what Nosbisch calls his “three-headed monster at point guard” — Elgin’s Allen Walker, Geneva’s Ryan Willing and Waukegan’s Justin Fields.

“I think our freshman class is one with an opportunity to be one of better since I’ve been here, but it’s going to take them a while to learn the Juco game,” Nosbisch said.

Walker, Willing, and Fields each bring different styles to the point.

“Walker is the best defender, Willing probably the best passer of the three, and Fields most athletic,” Nosbisch said.

Cooper is a former volleyball player with good leaping ability and strength, Buchanan an outside scoring threat from the third-place team in 3A, and Smith a former football player (6-5, 205) who has a nice touch from medium range, including a soft banker.

Former area players Jonathan Leigeber (Bartlett, F), Troy Gudino (St. Edward, G), Brock Ralphs (Hampshire, G), and Blake Grantham (Larkin, F) figure to contribute off what could be a deep bench.

ECC, which went 2-1 in exhibition games, opened last Saturday at home against Columbia College’s club team. The schedule includes Moraine Valley, ranked 11th nationally in Juco Division II, and a tournament at Kirkwood, which is ranked seventh in the nation.

“It’s the first time I can remember not opening with (14th-ranked) Triton, and that’s good,” Nosbisch said.

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