"Someone has to step up."
It may be one of if not the most overrused statements in the sporting world, but if it has ever applied, it has in recent weeks at De Smet Jesuit, as the Spartans have dealt with the loss of injured forward Nolan Berry.
Berry, the 6-8 star who signed a letter of intent to play at Butler University earlier this month, broke both of his arms in preseason practice November 20, meaning the team will be missing its 6th all-time leading scorer for an extended period of time.
Read: De Smet Jesuit's Nolan Berry Out With Two Fractured Arms
How long is still an open question.
Coach Kevin Poelker praised Berry's "fire" in wanting to get back as soon as possible---he's already doing therapy-- but the earliest anything figures to be known is December 20 after an appointment with doctors.
In the meantime, the team will continue on with the slogan set out at the start of practice--"No Regrets."
Poelker will look at matchups and the hot hand in filling out his starting five, counting on Isaiah Walker and John Barron for increased duty while the team also waits for forward Joey Lodes' return from illness.
Forwards Alec Bausch scored 24 in the team's 70-58 win against Cardinal Ritter while senior guards Jimmy Barton and Brandon Shackleford were big factors against Whitfield Monday. Tournament play wraps up Friday against Sumner before the team hits the road for a Saturday tilt against Nixa at Columbia College in the Norm Stewart Classic.
This year's squad will likely only travel as far away from Creve Coeur as Saturday's Columbia trip and a potential return trip down I-70 if the team advances to the state's Final Four in March. Poelker said a trip last year to play in Washington, D.C. was a fun experience, but wore the team out down the stretch.
Still, there are plenty of good matchups on the schedule. The Metro Catcholic Conference schedule promises to be a rugged one again this season against CBC and Chaminade, and there's a Coaches vs. Cancer game at Scottrade against Rockhurst as well as a Highland (IL) Shootout game vs. Belleville East.
Patch sat down with members of the team prior to Berry's injury, but what they said then still holds merit now. Barron and Barton cited the need to be physically and mentally tough in order to be successful.
Berry, who said his game improved once he became comfortable in his own basketball skin and stopped trying to live up to outside expectations, essentially said the same could be true for the team.
The most prophetic analysis to preview the season could have come from Poelker, when asked how a team with a Division I talent leading the way would cope when that player has an "off" night.
"We’ve got to do all the little things," Poelker said. "We pick up loose balls, we block off and don’t give chances and play good defense, you can win a lot of games by doing those things, no matter who you have on the offensive end of the floor."