Fresh off its lowest win total since 2009-2010, most of the talk around the Rantoul boys basketball team might be negative. For me this season was not a total loss.
Regardless of what the record might have said there was a lot of improvement.
I saw the team play games at Centennial and Paxton-Buckley-Loda that I think anyone involved would say were embarrassing. The good news about that is both of those games were early in the season
Outside of one off night at St. Thomas More, most of the games in the 2020 portion of the season were at least high energy.
Now you could look at the final game of the season and see the Eagles got beat 90-35. But if you watched that game and then listened to what head coach Ryan Parker had to say, you would know the answer to problem has already been solved.
The Eagles just have to hit the weight room.
The Eagles only lose four seniors and return many key players.
Avonte Anderson, Jamari Buford, Kejuan Caradine, Jamiah Foster, Lorenz Lee, Markus Lee, Angel Soto, Colin Wilkerson and Ethan Winston all played meaningful minutes this year, and they all will be back next year.
The key for those players is to get stronger. The reason I said this season was not a total loss was because of the experience they got.
You can get in the weight room and get stronger, you can go to the gym and get shots up, but you cannot teach in game experience.
The program has seen some lows the last three years, but there were highs not that long ago.
From the start of the 2015-16 season to the end of the 2016-2017 season, the Eagles only lost 13 games while winning 41.
As good as those teams were they did not produce a regional championship. The school has not had a boys basketball championship since 2010-2011. Despite the good records and really good players, I believe there is more success to tap into that will bring a regional championship sooner than another nine years.
Another factor this season was a change at the top as in the head coach. The transition from Brett Frerichs to Ryan Parker seemed rather smooth. But I think there is still some distraction that goes with that.
I think the team is heading in the right direction under Parker. He has passion for the game and is knowledgeable of the game. He also knows what it takes to be better. He is already working with youngsters from the feeder schools to get them into open gyms and have them prepared for basketball at the high school level.
With all that said, the time is now to get behind these boys. This season may not have gone the way it was planned, but nine years is too long to not win a regional championship, and I think under new direction it can happen sooner rather than later.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on Twitter @RyanBirchRP