Considering the entire Aurora Christian boys athletic program its a nice problem.
As of Friday the Eagles basketball team lacked several starters and others aiming to win a second straight Class 3A football title.
Point guard Ryan Suttle, forward Ryan McQuade, center Cory Windle and guard Chad Beebe were among the multisport athletes in shoulder pads.
Integrating these football players into a cohesive unit along with returnees Johnathan Harrell, Haydn McNelis and big Paxton Singer will be one of the main challenges posed to new Eagles coach Pat McNamara.
An Aurora Central Catholic assistant who came over to succeed Steve Hansons three-year tenure, McNamara has seen this sort of thing before. Hes a veteran of head coaching positions at Marmion, Plano and two schools in New York.
Still, following Aurora Christians post-football championship tournament (it includes Montini and Joliet Catholic) the Eagles go right into the Suburban Christian Conference grind against contenders Wheaton Academy, St. Francis and Aurora Central.
We better take care of business early, McNamara said.
They better take care of business all 84 feet of the court.
My philosophy has usually been the same, the coach said. I like to get after it on defense, press people full court the whole game, wear people out, and hopefully play ten guys if youve got ten guys. And I think weve got ten guys.
Hes definitely got experience. Suttle is a fourth-year point guard, McQuade a three-year starting wing and forward Harrell a two-year starter. The latter two almost cant help but improve upon last years averages of 9.0 and 8.8 points, respectively.
As opposed to last season when the Eagles shot 463 three-pointers (McQuade hit 40), McNamara favors an inside-out approach. Thatll benefit McQuade, Harrell, 6-foot-4 Cory Windle and 6-8 Singer, though Singer may be counted upon less for scoring than dirty work like setting screens. McNamara calls him farm-boy strong.
Though McNamara likes to start inside, he said hes got six players who can hit 3s, including McNelis and 6-2 sophomore Wes Wolfe.
From what he saw in the summer, McNamara sees the need for much better defense, and sharing the ball rather than lofting it up at the earliest opportunity.
But basketball, like football, is a team game. Aurora Christians experienced athletes will get there.
We have enough talent that if we get everyone working together, working hard, I think well have a successful year, McNamara said. I think it might take awhile.
Coach: Pat McNamara (first year; 17th overall, 200-184
Last year: 18-8, 5-5, third in the Suburban Christian Blue
Key players: Johnathan Harrell, F, jr.; Ryan McQuade, F, sr.; Ryan Suttle, G, sr.; Cory Windle, C, sr.
Skinny: Loads of athletes must work as a team