When you think about basketball in the summer, you think about driveway hoops or playground ball. Perhaps the NBA finals. But, usually, you don't think about high school basketball.
But, for the 16th straight year, Stagg High School is the site of a 32-team summer boys basketball shootout. The idea is to give the boys and the teams a jumpstart on the competition as they begin preparations for the 2011-2012 season.
It is a little known fact, but according to Stagg basketball coach John Daniels, the Stagg Shootout is the largest in Illinois. And it's also the coolest, literally, with 32 teams participating in air-contiditioned gyms.
"It's a great fundraiser for the school and for the basketball program," Daniels said. "This way, the kids don't have to go door-to-door selling candy."
Daniels inherited the camp from his predecessor, but has experience with shootouts. Before coming to Stagg, he ran a 16-team summer shootout at York High School.
"This shoot-around is a good opportunity," Daniels said. "It is one of the most inexpensive in the state. Each team plays six games with 20-minute halves, but beyond that it's IHSA rules. We allow the coaches to coach and run plays, but the general goal is to get the games done in an hour."
Unlike a lot of summer shootouts, the Stagg Summer Shootout is not a tournament.
"Coaches have some control over who they play," Daniels said. "Some will want to play teams they may never see. For example, a zone team might play a full-court press team, or a Downers Grove South might want to play Benet."
When it comes to his Chargers, Daniels said the summer is an important time for talent development and growth.
"I don't turn any kids away for my summer teams," he said. "Some of the seniors from last year who were not on the team will get some minutes. I don't sit on the bench for these games. Marty Strohs (a Stagg alum) coaches. There also isn't any pressure because there won't be a write-up in the paper tomorrow if we lose."
Daniels said Stagg's summer records means nothing. He pointed out that last year Stagg finished the summer at 12-19, but the Chargers went to enjoy a very successful 21-win season.
"Our players get the opportunity to work with other Stagg alums who are playing college basketball," Daniels said. "Darius Draeper was working with some sophomores Monday."
The shootout also offers the chance for some new referees to gain valuable experience. Daniels said many come and get tested so they can be certified by the IHSA. Some games will even have a three-man crew.
The shootout continues today. Stagg plays games at 5, 7 and 8 p.m. Over the two days of competition, the Chargers will be pitted against the likes of Downers Grove North, Leyden, Nazareth, Joliet Central, St. Ignatius and Oak Forest.