By Mike Monahan
Lake Land men’s basketball coach Julian Larry hopes the strength of the 2021-22 team is: “Be competitive every single night and finish games. “
“Last year,” Larry said, “we struggled.”
The Lakers, with the average margin of loss at seven points, finished 6-14 during the COVID-19 shortened year. Eight of the 14 losses were decided by nine points or less. Better rebounding and defense will be needed this year, says Larry, to have a chance to post the program’s first winning season since going 17-14 in 2017-18.
“We had a couple of possessions where we shot ourselves in the foot.,” Larry said. “We have to finish plays.”
Lake Land averaged 81.6 points per game last season, allowing an average of 89.6 points.
“Practices have been going well,” said Larry. “The guys are getting better and that is all I can ask for.”
Lake Land will play its GRAC opener Nov. 17 at home against Shawnee Community College at 7 p.m.
Lake Land has seven freshmen and eight sophomores on the team. The freshmen include Jake Eversole, a guard from Villa Grove, and Teutopolis grad Even Wermert.
“We have got a good bunch that are very talented and hard workers,” said Larry.
There’s Amardo Camacho, a 6-foot-3 point guard from the Bronx.
Plus, Amara Kuljuhovic, a 6-9 power forward whose brother played for LLC three years ago.
And Anthony Neal is a 6-7, 230 power forward who Larry expects to help on the boards.
Dallis Cox, meanwhile, is a strong, athletic defender
Among the sophomores returning is Everett Stubblefield, who was an all-GRAC player as well as second in scoring in the conference and an all-region 24 member, a Willowbrook grad in Villa Park, averaged 16.2 points per game. He averaged 3.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as well as 1.8 steals per contest. He is the top returner in nearly every category.
“The sophomores never quit on me last year and fought all the way,” said Larry. “This year we want to be better than that and they are hungry. That is why they all came back.”
Every year with a new class of freshmen team chemistry is always a key and Larry said,”The chemistry is going well and that is what we want.”
Larry said the leaders of the team are Malachi Davis, LeRoy Walker and Stubblefield.
“Those three payed a lot of key minutes for us last year and they are our leaders,” said Larry.
The Lakers non-conference schedule includes two games against Mineral Area College, the No. 5 team in the nation in the NJCAA Division I preseason rankings, as well as a game with both last year’s Division II National champion, Des Moines Area, and No. 20 Parkland.
“I think it will help us out tremendously,” said Larry. “Hopefully, it will make us stronger once we start play in the GRAC, a tough, tough conference.”
Larry feels the team has excelled and matured tremendously.
“Our goal is to get better every day, to get better than the day before,” said Larry, who was an assistant for four years under former Lake Land coach Branden Colvin and will be entering his 14th year in college basketball.
|Jake Eversole||6-1||165||G||FR||Villa Grove|
|Amardo Camacho||6-4||200||G||FR||Bronx, NY|
|Amar Kuljuhovic||6-9||215||PF||FR||Waterloo, IA|
|Anthony Neal||6-8||230||PF||FR||South Bend, IN|
|Anthony Scales||6-5||200||SF||SO||Zionsville, IN|
|Hamilton Wallace||6-10||240||C||SO||Sao Pablo, Brazil|
|Yassin Hussein||6-9||215||F||SO||Cairo, Egypt|
Nov 17-SHAWNEE COMMUNITY COLLEGE*, 7 p.m.; Nov. 20-MINERAL AREA, 3 p.m.; Nov. 23-at Parkland, 6 p.m.; Nov. 26-Southeastern Iowa Tournament, TBA; Nov. 27-Southeastern Iowa Tournament, TBA
Dec. 1-WABASH VALLEY,* 1 p.m.; Dec . 6-at Illinois College JV, 7 p.m.; Dec. 8-at Rend Lake*, 7 p.m.; Dec. 11-at Olney Central College*, 3 p.m.; Dec. 15-VINCENNES, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 18 at Lewis & Clark Community College, 3 p.m.; Dec. 30-at John Wood Community College, 7 p.m.; Dec. 31-at Kirkwood Community College, 3 p.m.
Jan. 9 at John A. Logan*, 3 p.m.; Jan. 12-SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS COLLEGE*, 7 p.m.; Jan. 15-at Kaskaskia College* 3 p.m.; Jan. 19 at Lincoln Trail College*, 7 p.m.; Jan. 22- at Shawnee Community College*, 3 p.m.,; Jan. 26-JOHN A. LOGAN,* 7 p.m.; Jan. 29 at Wabash Valley College,* 3 p.m.
Feb 5-REND LAKE*, 3 p.m.; Feb. 9-OLNEY CENTRAL COLLEGE,* 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 12-at Vincennes University,3 p.m.; Feb. 16-LEWIS & CLARK, 7 p.m.; Feb. 19-at Southwestern Illinois College*, 3 p.m; Feb. 22-KASKASKIA COLLEGE*, 7 p.m.; Feb. 24-LINCOLN TRAIL COLLEGE*, 7 p.m.; Region 24 tournament, TBA
*-Great Rivers Athletic Conference game