Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

974439.png

Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

Tyquone Greer plays basketball at Orr. So the 6-foot-7 junior doesn't command as much attention from fans or media as players from more celebrated schools and more established programs such as Simeon, Whitney Young, Morgan Park, Marshall or Crane.
But Orr coach Louis Adams is beating a drum in Greer's behalf. "He is one of the best players in the state, a Division I recruit. He is one of the top five players in the state. What separates him from other players? He can put the ball on the floor at 6-foot-7," Adams said.
A lot of major Division I colleges are listening. Greer has scholarship offers from Illinois, DePaul, Wisconsin, Bradley, Baylor, Marquette, Arkansas, Florida State and Providence. And he has attracted interest from Miami (Fla.), South Carolina and Nebraska. More can be expected.
Greer got more exposure last weekend as Orr won three games in Detroit. He had 17 points and eight rebounds in a 61-54 victory over East English Village and 23 points and nine rebounds in a 47-36 triumph over Detroit Frederick Douglass. Louis Adams Jr. had 14 points and four assists in a 46-34 decision over Detroit Community.
They'll return to action on Friday when Orr (9-2) plays Westinghouse in a Public League Red-West match-up.
"This is the best team I've had," coach Louis Adams said. "We are good enough to win state if we do things we are supposed to do and stay disciplined."
Greer said the key to success is working together and believing in each other. "As the coach says: 'Trust in each other.' We can only beat ourselves. We are very athletic and we hustle a lot. Last year's team was a shooting team. They lived and died by the three-point shot. But this team is more into going to the basket," he said.
And the Spartans could be even better. Marquise Pryor, a 6-foot-6 senior who is arguably the team's best player, is due to be released from jail on Feb. 22 and Adams expects him to rejoin the team.
Pryor, who averaged 20 points per game last season and was one of the state's leading rebounders, was arrested last September near his Englewood home and later charged as an adult with gun possession. Already facing a gun charge, he pleaded guilty in both cases and entered Cook County's four-month disciplinary program.
"He has been with me since seventh grade. He is a 17-year-old kid. He made a mistake. He deserves a second chance," Adams said. "With him, we can beat Northern Illinois. He makes us one of the best teams in the country. He is a man out there. He could be our best player. He is probably the best rebounder in the country."
Greer said he is looking forward to Pryor's return. Last year, with Greer and Pryor, Orr finished 22-6 and lost to Wheaton St. Francis in the regional. Three years ago, the Spartans were 19-7 and lost to Riverside-Brookfield in the sectional.
"(Pryor) is a big part of this team," Greer said. "With him, we could be undefeated."
As it is, Greer (16 ppg) and 5-foot-10 senior point guard Jamal McDowell (10 ppg, 8 assists) are the only returning starters from a year ago. They blend with 6-foot-8 junior Marlon Jones (12 ppg, 8 rpg), a transfer from Crane, 6-foot-3 junior Louis Adam Jr. (18 ppg), the coach's son, and 5-foot-11 senior Brandon Clemons (8 ppg), a transfer from Simeon.
Adams Jr., a transfer from Thornton, has offers from DePaul, Bradley and TexasPan-American. He backed up Greer by contributing 39 points in the three-game sweep in Detroit last weekend.
Other contributors are 6-foot-4 junior Armani Ousley and 5-foot-11 junior Jerion Jackson.
Greer's first love was football. A native West Sider, he started playing football with the Vikings youth football team in third grade. He played quarterback and wide receiver. Several high schools recruited him to play football. He opted for St. Patrick. He dreamed of being the next Tom Brady. He wanted to go to Ohio State to play football.
In fact, Ohio State and Baylor are his dream schools--for basketball. "I have been watching Ohio State since I was little. I really wanted to go to Ohio State for football. They haven't offered from basketball. I'm hoping they will. But they haven't shown any interest. It is disappointing. I have another year to show them what I've got," he said.
An unanticipated growth spurt turned Greer's interest from football to basketball. He grew from 6 feet to 6-foot-5 in seventh grade. As he got taller, he began to think basketball was the sport for him, not football. All of a sudden, football was too slow paced for him. He liked to run up and down the basketball court.
"In seventh grade, I started to realize I was pretty good at basketball," Greer said. "I was playing football and basketball at the same time but I committed to basketball in eighth grade. I played football for one year in high school, then stopped because I liked basketball better. And I was committed to St. Patrick but I met coach Adams at an all-star game and transferred to Orr after my freshman year."
Greer's idol is NBA star Kevin Durant. No wonder. "He is tall and can do all the things I can do...dribble, shoot, a lot of things that people my size can't do," he said.
"I'm 100 percent better than last year. I am more aggressive and more physical. I attack the basket more. I'm growing as a player. I'm smarter on the court and more mature on and off the court."
And if Marquise Pryor returns on Feb. 22, there is no telling how much better Greer and his teammates will be. Stay tuned.

Report: Rutgers' Janarion Grant to miss remainder of season with injury

janarion-grant-0925.jpg

Report: Rutgers' Janarion Grant to miss remainder of season with injury

The worst-case scenario appears to have struck for Rutgers and star playmaker Janarion Grant.

Grant, who is an ever-dangerous scoring threat in multiple phases of the game, was injured after taking a catch 76 yards inside the five-yard line in Saturday's loss to Iowa. According to a Sunday report from NJ.com's Ryan Dunleavy, the injury will knock Grant out for the remainder of the season.

Grant had his ankle stepped on at the end of that long run and sat out the rest of Saturday's game.

The blow is obviously a crushing one for the Scarlet Knights. Grant is the team's best and most dangerous player. A star return man, he's played a big role on offense this season, as well. In four games, Grant racked up 138 rushing yards, 210 receiving yards, 112 punt-return yards and 195 kick-return yards. He scored six total touchdowns: three rushing, one via a punt return, one via a kick return and one touchdown throw.

A senior, Grant's collegiate career could be over due to the injury. He could apply for a medical hardship waiver, though already appearing in four games this season, it's potentially unlikely that he would receive one from the NCAA.

In his four-year career, Grant has totaled 2,606 kick-return yards (five touchdowns), 895 receiving yards (one touchdown), 480 punt-return yards (three touchdowns) and 270 rushing yards (three touchdowns).

Adding more bad news for the Knights, Dunleavy also reported that wide receiver Quanzell Lambert is out for the season, as well.

After firing Brian VanGorder, Brian Kelly puts onus on coaches to fix Irish defense

After firing Brian VanGorder, Brian Kelly puts onus on coaches to fix Irish defense

Brian Kelly, before Sunday, hadn’t fired an assistant coach since coming to Notre Dame nearly seven years ago. But faced with a 1-3 record and an uncertain defensive future, Kelly came to the conclusion that a change at defensive coordinator was necessary to Notre Dame’s chances of turning around a season headed in the wrong direction. 

And with that, Brian VanGorder is out. Greg Hudson, who previously was a defensive analyst and Purdue’s defensive coordinator from 2013-2015, is in. But what does Kelly want to see out of a defense that ranks at or near the bottom of the FBS level in so many defensive statistics and has been the main culprit in losses to Texas, Michigan State and Duke?

The first step, Kelly said on his teleconference Sunday, is injecting something enjoyable into an Irish defense that VanGorder defended in August as “likable and learnable.” 

“Guys played hard, but we lacked some of the energy and enthusiasm and fun, quite frankly, that you need to have when you're playing on defense,” Kelly said. 

Maybe better energy will result in better tackling, a fundamental area that’s been a glaring problem for this defense in 2016. Kelly said last week his defensive players were “anxious,” which contributed to the the team’s tackling problem. Better coaching, of course, would help there as well. 

But adding energy is sort of a nebulous, impossible-to-quantify concept. More concrete will be the tweaks to the defensive scheme and moving a few players into different positions to maximize their ability. 

Kelly said the terminology of the defense will remain the same, which makes sense given the installation process for VanGorder’s scheme began back during spring practice. Changing the terminology, Kelly said, would “pull the rug underneath the kids at this point in the season.”

What there will be, Kelly said, is a different focus trained on parts of the defense that have been installed but maybe not utilized frequently. 

“There's a lot,” Kelly said. “There's a very vast library that is easily tapped into from a different perspective, different terminology in terms of what has not been leaned on heavily in terms of fronts and coverages, but it's already installed.

“So there's a vast library. There's a lot there. I'm going to send around some of the things I believe our guys will feel comfortable with, and we'll go from there.”

Kelly dismissed the notion that VanGorder installed too much into his defensive scheme, but said he, Hudson and Irish coaches will “streamline” things to allow players to be fundamentally sound and play with that kind of speed and energy necessary. 

Kelly said, too, that he and his coaching staff will meet Sunday to discuss personnel changes — both from getting certain guys on the field (like defensive end Jay Hayes, who Kelly specifically addressed) and getting others into better positions to make plays. 

“We think that there might be some validity to moving around a couple of players,” Kelly said. “So that will be a conversation that I begin a little bit later this afternoon.”

It’s too early to tell what Notre Dame’s defense will look like on Saturday against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, but what’s clear is that a turnaround is necessary — and it’s needed immediately. At 1-3, with three games left against teams ranked in the top 15 of S&P+ (home games against Stanford, Miami and Virginia Tech), Notre Dame doesn’t have much margin for error if it wants to reach a bowl game in 2016. 

The defense has made plenty of errors so far, to the point where Kelly took a step he never had in South Bend. Streamlining things, getting that energy back, tweaking the scheme — whatever it is, Notre Dame needs solutions on defense. 

Those solutions weren’t coming with VanGorder and now have to come with Hudson, as well as Kelly taking a more involved supervisor role in the defense. 

“It starts with the coaches,” Kelly said. “I think it's got to be coach-led and they have got to start the fire. And then those players that have that intrinsic motivation, that fire within, they will come along with us. Those that don't, we're going to leave them along the side. But this is going to start with the coaches.”