New Trier coach Scott Fricke offered a wishful-thinking method of preparation for the Trevians' Class 4A Chicago State Supersectional against Simeon.
"If we had more time, I'd call Coach (John) Groce from Illinois and scrimmage those guys, because that's the type of team we're playing," Fricke said.
"It's a rare opportunity that you get to play a Division I high school basketball team," he also cracked.
Fricke knows knocking off Simeon will take a mighty effort, but jokes aside, he doesn't expect his starting lineup of four seniors and a junior to crack under the pressure of facing the three-time defending state champions Tuesday. He said he realized his team's potential at the Proviso West Tournament in December, when the Trevians (28-5) finished sixth after going 4-1, its lone loss coming to Oswego.
"We have a bunch of tough kids on our team," Fricke said. "We play a very difficult schedule. … Our kids are used to playing highly competitive games. I'm not worried about the intimidation."
Fricke pointed to his team's defense as the driving force behind its 65-42 victory over Niles North and standout Malachi Nix, and Simeon (27-3) prepared by mixing in some practice against a 1-3-1 zone. But Simeon coach Robert Smith praised the Trevians' offensive precision and ball movement, which comes from what Fricke said is a cohesive, unselfish group led by 6-foot-4 Princeton recruit Steven Cook and senior point guard Reid Berman.
Smith expects to hand the assignment of guarding Cook to Dayton-bound guard Kendall Pollard, Simeon's best defender.
"We just have to be ready to help the man who's getting beat on the defensive end," Pollard said. "...I feel like I do a good job, and that's why they keep putting me on the best player."
At the end of Sunday's practice, Smith relayed to his players the story of the last New Trier team to win a supersectional. In 2002, before some of the current Simeon players were in kindergarten, the Trevians knocked off a Proviso East team led by Dee Brown and Shannon Brown in a supersectional and finished fourth in the state.
"Tuesday's game is always the hardest game to play," Smith said. "Anything happens in those games. Even though you think you can win, it doesn't always happen."
This is the second time the Trevians have advanced to a supersectional since 2002.
"We're going to have to play with confidence," Cook said. "We can't back down. They have a lot of great players, but I think we do too, so we'll matchup well."
Bob Hurst contributed.
Simeon vs. New Trier
What: Class 4A Chicago State Supersectional.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Simeon 27-3, New Trier 28-5.
New Trier vs. Simeon
Reid Berman, Sr., 6-0, G vs. Jaylon Tate, Sr., 6-1, G
Jordan Thomas, Jr., 5-11, G vs. Kendrick Nunn, Sr., 6-3, G
Steven Cook, Sr., 6-4, G/F vs. Kendall Pollard, Sr., 6-7, F
Stas Banas, Sr., 6-1, F vs. Jabari Parker, Sr., 6-8, F
Aaron Angel, Sr., 6-9, C vs. Russell Woods, Sr., 6-8, F
Colleen Kane's quick take: Simeon players have said they won't let up after an 18-point victory over Young in a game many thought could be their toughest of the playoffs. New Trier, coming off its first sectional championship since 2005, would love to catch the Wolverines slacking. Simeon will be playing its fifth game at Chicago State this season, its last appearance a city semifinal loss to Morgan Park.
Next: Class 4A state semifinal — 6:30 p.m. Friday, Carver Arena, Peoria.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun