Hammarlund is Mr. Intangibles for St. Viator

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Hammarlund is Mr. Intangibles for St. Viator

Kevin Hammarlund is a coach's dream and an opponent's worst nightmare. St. Viator's 6-foot-1 senior guard doesn't score points as much as he creates headaches. He wishes he were 6-foot-3, could shoot and play at Duke. But he knows that isn't to be. He is comfortable in his own skin.

"The most points I ever scored in a game was 28 as a freshman. My varsity high is 18 last year, 14 this year. I average only three to nine shots a game," he said. "I realize my role is to play defense and set screens and rebound and make steals, a little bit of everything."

Hammarlund averages nine points, five rebounds and at least one steal per game. He also takes four charges per game and usually limits the opponent's leading scorer to fewer than 10 points. He doesn't count floor burns or black-and-blue marks or bumps and bruises.

"I'm not a big statistics guy," he said. "I take pride in setting good screens for my teammates to get good shots. I've had at least one steal in every game. And my goal in every game is to help on team defense and hold the other team's good scorer under 10 points."

A two-year starter at wide receiver and free safety on the football team, Hammarlund will play football in college, probably at Washington University in St. Louis or Dayton, Butler or St. Thomas in Minnesota.

"I love both sports," he said. "Basketball is harder because I'm a shorter guard. I had a great chance to start in football last year and it led to being recruited by some schools. But I love basketball. I've been playing since I was 3. I wish I could play at Duke, but..."

But it won't happen. He will have to settle for trying to help St. Viator make history this season. The Arlington Heights school was 25-4 last year and lost to Mundelein in the sectional semifinal. The Lions have never been farther in the state tournament series. This year's goal is the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.

"I've been at St. Viator for eight years and this can be the best team I have seen," two-year coach Mike Howland said. "We have five returning players who saw minutes last year. We know we are talented but we are younger than last year.

"We know we would have a learning curve. We know how to play together. Everyone knows their roles. We know who is good at what. We're starting to figure it out. We have a lot of firepower and a great group of guards. We can score in bunches. We're looking to make history this year."

St. Viator is 13-4 after losing to Lake Forest 66-53 on Tuesday. The Lions will face two severe tests when they face East Suburban Catholic rivals Marian Catholic and Tyler Ulis on Friday and Notre Dame on Saturday at the Sears Center. It won't get any easier next week when they meet Benet and New Trier.

Last week, St. Viator defeated Northridge Prep 65-55 as Ore Arogundade had 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. In an 86-81 decision over Nazareth, Arogundade had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Mark Falitico had 24 points and seven assists, Patrick McNamara scored 17 points and Hammarlund had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Against Lake Forest (12-3), one of the top teams in the North Suburban, Hammarlund scored 14 points and Ore Aragundade had 13. But St. Viator couldn't contain Lake Forest's 6-foot-7 Evan Boudreaux, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds.

"This will be a fun stretch. Our conference is as good as it gets, loaded, a battle every night," Howland said. "We played our worst week of basketball at the Wheeling tournament at Christmas (they lost to Naperville Central and Niles North to finish fourth) but played our best basketball last week (beating Glenbrook North and Carmel).

"We're really good when we play together and share the ball. We have to play to our strengths...play defense, push the tempo, get stops and rebound well. I said at the beginning of the year that if we go far (in the state tournament) we must rebound the ball and give opponents one shot. When we do, we're good. When we dont, we're pretty average."

The lineup features Hammarlund, 6-foot-3 junior guard Arogundade (16 PPG, 8 RPG), 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard Falitico (13 PPG, 5 assists), 6-foot-2 senior guard Martin (10 PPG) and 6-foot-5 senior center Hugh Masterson (6 PPG, 7 RPG). Ore's brother, Mayo Arogundade 5 PPG), a 5-foot-11 senior point guard, and 6-foot-3 sophomore McNamara come off the bench.

Howland describes Hammarlund as "our do-everything guy, a winner, our intangibles guy. He doesn't need the basketball. He took five charges in one game. He is a difference-maker. He is our best defender. He takes the opponent's best player."

"My role? I do what the coach tells me. I do what it takes for this team to win," Hammarlund said. "I like to be known as a defensive player. I pride myself at working at the defensive end, trying to take their best player out of the game.

"And I like to bring energy. I make energy plays, charges and steals, that bring us easy baskets. It gets our crowd going and gives the team momentum. I'm not a stat guy. I see how many points my man got, if I was able to hold him to a low score."

Hammarlund came off the bench last year as St. Viator went 25-4 and won its first conference championship in more than 10 years. The Lions were undefeated in the conference and on their home floor. But the loss to Mundelein in the sectional semifinal was a big disappointment, something he and his teammates haven't forgotten.

"I thought we'd go much farther than that. We should have gone to the supersectional or downstate. I felt we were that good," he said. "But we have more talent this year. We have a lot of good players and we are playing as a team. We can be better than last year."

St. Viator lacks size -- as was clearly evident in the loss to Lake Forest -- but usually makes up for it with aggressiveness, balanced scoring and lockdown defense.

"We have a lot of positive energy and leadership on and off the court," Hammarlund said. "The seniors have played together for four years. Sure, we have concern when we play a bigger team. But we have athleticism with our guards and can pressure bigger players and make it tough for them to finish."

35 Days to Kickoff: Lake Zurich

35 Days to Kickoff: Lake Zurich

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Lake Zurich

Head coach: Dave Proffitt

Assistant Coaches: Tony Wolanski (OC), David Proffitt (DC), Shane Williams (ST)

How they fared in 2015: 4-5 (3-3) North Suburban Lake Conference. Lake Zurich failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoffs.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Bears get back into the IHSA State playoff field?

Names to watch this season: LB Jack Sanborn, RB Kyle Roth

Biggest holes to fill: The Bears welcome back just one starting offensive linemen from a season ago in senior Eric Brown.

EDGY's Early Take: Whenever a Dave Proffitt coached team welcomes back eight starters on defense, expect good things to happen. If the Bears defense can allow a less experienced offense to develop early on this is a definite team that could rise quickly in the polls. 

36 Days to Kickoff: Naperville North

36 Days to Kickoff: Naperville North

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Naperville North

Head coach: Sean Drendel

Assistant Coaches: Mike Fitzgerald (OC), Jeff Burke (WR), Bill Korosec (RB), Tom Vargos (OL), Darren Stahulak (OL), John Jackson (DL), Jim Hess (DL), Anthony Silvestri (LB), Mike Ventry (DB)

How they fared in 2015: 2-7 (2-6) DuPage Valley Conference. Naperville North failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoffs.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Huskies get back to the state playoffs in 2016?

Names to watch this season: DB/ATH Cam Hardy, DB Grant Ericksen

Biggest holes to fill: The Huskies will need to replace three graduated starting offensive linemen this fall.

EDGY's Early Take: Looking for a nice story this season? Naperville North returns 17 starters (10 on defense) from a season ago and this 2016 Huskies squad has a real chance of getting back to the state playoffs. Naperville North lost four games last season by a touchdown or less and showed real signs of a young team on the rise in 2015.

37 Days to Kickoff: Evanston

37 Days to Kickoff: Evanston

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Evanston

Head coach: Mike Burzawa

Assistant Coaches: Eddie Conley, John Pullia, Cletus Short, Keith Woodson, Kyle Gessert, Mike Partipilo, David Schwabe

How they fared in 2015: 6-4 (3-2) Central Suburban South Conference. Evanston made the 2015 Class 8A state playoff field and lost to South Elgin in opening round action.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Wildkits reload after graduating a strong senior class this past spring?

Names to watch this season: OL/DL Christian Nielsen, OL/DL Morgan Brown

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildkits will be very young and inexperienced especially in the offensive skills department in 2016.

EDGY's Early Take: Evanston will be young in the offensive skills yet experienced on the offensive line this season which is a plus. If the Wildkits can find some replacements to step up this team could challenge in the CSL-South and beyond in 2016.