The 2012 NJCAA Region IV and Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship Cyclones are back, but with a whole new look and strategy. Only one player from last year’s team, which played in nationals and posted a 27-9 record, returned with many transferring on scholarships to four-year colleges and universities. But the 2012-13 squad has “94-feet of heat” to bring this season.
The 2012 region and conference coach of the year, Dedrick Shannon, returns for his ninth season at the helm. Not only was last season the first time Shannon coached the Cyclones into the NJCAA tournament, but he also was selected 2012 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Co-Coach of the Year in NJCAA Division II. He is joined by an all new crew of assistants—Jelani Boline, Aaron Green and Brandon Willaby.
Of the championship squad, only guard Mike Schick (St. Laurence/5’11”) returns. Schick averaged 2.5 points per game and is a smart player who will help lead this new group.
Some strong newcomers include brothers from Lockport High School Karrington Ward (6’7”/guard/forward) and Kyle Ward (6’1”/guard). Karrington Ward is an All-American transfer from Kankakee Community College who averaged 23 points and nine rebounds per game. Shannon expects big things from guard Gerald Dorsey (Tinley Park/5’9”), a solid scorer. Guard Darryl Hervey (Rich South/6’0”) will bring some leadership to the team with Karrington Ward. Other newcomers include guard/forward Darius Draper (Stagg/6’7”), forward Des’nique Harris (Plainfield East/6’4”), center/forward Shaun Johnson (Argo/6’5”), guard/forward Brett Kaiser (Stagg/6’3”), guard Marquell Pierce (Marshall Metro/5’9”), guard Johnte Shannon (Thornwood/6’1”), guard/forward Brian Townsend (Evergreen Park/6’4”), and guard Dave Williams (Tinley Park/5’10”).
After a successful 2011-12 run that included a top 16 finish in the nation and first run in 10 years in the NJCAA Division II championship, expectations run high for the Cyclones. In the pre-season, the team was ranked 11th. The only downside is they are guard-heavy and lack the height of last year. With that in mind, the Cyclones will play a different style on the court and depend on speed to outplay opponents.
“With three starters under 6-feet tall, we’re going to play fast. We’ve done a lot of conditioning for speed. No question, we are fast,” Shannon said. “We’re more athletic and can shoot the 3-pointers. They work really hard, there are no attitudes and we want to defend our title. We have a chance to do that as long as we keep together; we’re going for titles.”