Banged up Wolverines prepare for Pontiac

Banged up Wolverines prepare for Pontiac
December 27, 2012, 4:07 pm
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On Thursday the Simeon Wolverines travel to Pontiac, Ill. for the 82nd Pontiac Holiday Tournament. The 16-team field is a solid one, packed with very good squads from around the state, giving the Wolverines an opportunity to continue to build their rhythm.
Simeon will play its first game at 7:30 Thursday night against United Township High School of East Moline, Ill.
The Wolverines head into Pontiac banged up, as Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn is nursing a hip injury and Jabari Parker, who committed to Duke last Thursday, is still working his way back into playing shape while continuing to rehab his injured foot.
On Wednesday, Simeon held its final practice before departing for Pontiac Thursday. And while Parker was able to participate, Nunn instead opted to spend his time in the swimming pool working on his hip.
On Tuesday I bruised my hip in practice, so today I just tried to work it out in the pool trying to get it loose, explained Nunn after practice. Its still tight, but Im going to ice it and see how I feel on Thursday. I should be able to play in the tournament I probably wont be 100 percent and in a couple of days, I should be better.
As for Parker, hes been working extremely hard to get himself back into form. The All-American hasnt played since Dec. 15 when the Wolverines competed in a tournament in Memphis, Tenn. He missed all the teams practices and games against Carver and Brooks last week as he continues to rehab and work on his conditioning.
Im feeling alright. Going through rehab has been a pain. But Im just glad I get to practice with my guys, Parker said after practice on Wednesday. I feel a lot better, though. I feel like my legs are getting better, my hips are getting stronger which helps out my feet, and Im just getting my rhythm back, gradually.
Coach Robert Smith had his team go through a full-court scrimmage during practice and, instead of having Parker play with the starters like he normally would, strategically placed him with the second group. During the scrimmage seniors Russell Woods and Dayton commit Kendall Pollard pushed their star player, and Smith was pleased with what he saw.
I liked the intensity today, and thats probably because Jabari was here and he was on the opposite team as the starters today, Smith said. He was really competing with Kendall and Russell and the intensity was just so much better.
Parker appreciated the challenge from his coach and commended both his teammates for doing all they can to make him work hard and improve.
Im trying to just finish strong at the basket trying to draw fouls. Russell pushes me there because hes so athletic and I have to alter my shot sometimes. But Im working on just trying to go to the basket as strong as possible, Parker said.
Kendall is a real good player. Hes probably one of the best in Chicago and in the country. Hes helped me continually, ever since I was a freshman. I just keep on going at him and he goes at me twice as hard. Thats what makes it so competitive.
Today was the best that Jabari has looked in a while, opined Smith after practice. Hes starting to look like himself a little bit. He still looks a little winded, but thatll come in time. But offensively he was able to move and defensively he was able to move. He looked like he could explode off the ground and I think its because hes lost the weight. But were just taking it day by day and hell continue to get better.
Smith said he is looking to see his team continue to jell and improve as a unit in the upcoming tournament. With only five games under their belt since Dec. 1, the Wolverines are still playing catch up with teams who already have established their rhythm and havent been beset by injuries.
Im looking for us to get better offensively, defensively, and to just have better cohesiveness, Smith said. Kendrick is a little banged up and hopefully he can get on the court and we can have our full team. We still havent played a game with our full team yet. I think Jabari is probably at 45 or 50 percent now, and if Kendrick can get out there on the floor and we can get into a rhythm with our full group, I think well look pretty good.