In the Gym with Jim- Spalding Basketball Preview

Posted by Michael Glick on Nov 08 2003 at 04:00PM PST
Jim Quinn and Mark Thomas Magazine Staff By Jim Quinn MD Nov 9, 2003 traveled to Severn, Maryland, last week to watch Coach Mike Glick's Spalding Cavaliers in their first week of formal preseason practice as they prepare to recapture the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) Championship that eluded them last March when they lost a heartbreaking 49-48 decision to Mt. St. Joe's in front of a crowd 2,700 at Goucher College. We interviewed the three key returning seniors from last year's 26-7 squad, 6-8 All-American forward Rudy Gay, 6-11 center Jason Loughry, and 5-10 point guard Jesse Brooks, and each of them identified winning the BCL Title as their single greatest goal for the 2003-2004 season. Loughry, who missed last year's BCL Tournament with a severe ankle injury, said, "It killed me to have to sit and watch us lose that game. I felt like I could have helped us win that game if I could have played. That game, and winning the (BCL) championship, are my motivation this year." Spalding has lost 7-0 center Will Bowers (Maryland) and 6-5 forward Gus Durr (Mt. St. Mary's) to graduation. Also departing are the three seniors who manned the shooting guard position by committee and also provided depth behind Jesse Brooks at the point: Matt Latonick, Dave Douglas, and Tim Brackney. Most prep programs would have difficulty sustaining success after losing two Division One recruits, particularly one that is a seven-footer bound for the ACC, as well as three such important role players, but Glick, now entering his fifth year at Spalding has built the Basketball program to the point that the Cavaliers don't have to rebuild, they merely reload and rebuild. Not satisfied with building Spalding into a state/regional power, Glick is now attracting talent worthy of generating National interest - and he is scheduling his team accordingly. Last year, Spalding played in the Morgan Wooten Invitational at the Comcast Center; the Slam Dunk to the Beach a national tournament in Lewes, Delaware; the Flying to the Hoop Tournament in Dayton, Ohio; and the Alhambra Invitational Tournament in Hagerstown. The Cavaliers went 7-3 in these tough non-conference events. This year, Glick has booked Spalding into the St. Alban's Tip-Off Tournament (featuring WCAC Champion Gonzaga); the Bullis Holiday Tournament (including, among others, Good Counsel and Notre Dame); the Mayor's Cup Tournament in Baltimore; the prestigious Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina; and the Image Capital Shootout in Rochester, New York. The Cavaliers will also travel to Philadelphia to play Philly Catholic League power Cardinal Dougherty. Not a schedule for the faint of heart! The Cavalier attack will be built around the extraordinary Rudy Gay. has seen Rudy play over a dozen times since he debuted in a Spalding uniform last fall after transferring in from Eastern Tech. As has been noted in numerous Internet sites and recruiting publications, Gay has, in the course of little more than a year, transformed himself from a relatively unknown junior to one of the Top ten seniors in the prep class of 2004. The 6-8 215 forward exploded on the National scene this summer at the Nike Camp, but he also put on exceptional performances at the St. Alban's Ban the Brick Summer League and in local AAU performances with Cecil Kirk AAU Team at Charlie Weber Tournaments at Georgetown and Maryland. Gay is posseses both exceptional athletic ability and highly developed skills. At the practice that we observed at Spalding last week, Gay not only electrified the gym with his three point shooting range and spectacular blocked shots and dunks, he also showed passing and ball-handling skills that most fans do not realize that he possesses. “Rudy is a great passer,” said Glick. "He is very unselfish and he sees the floor very well. As you saw here tonight, he can always find the open man and rarely turns it over." Beyond his electrifying play and his ability to fill up a stat sheet, Gay can also do the "dirty work" to help his team win. In the BCL Championship Game last year, Gay did not shoot well (he only scored 8 points), but his game-high 16 rebounds and terrific defense gave the Cavaliers a chance to win at the end. Unfortunately, Spalding missed 5 attempts at a game-winning basket in the last 8 seconds against Mt. St. Joe's! Gay recently committed to Connecticut after also receiving scholarship offers from Maryland, Kentucky, Arizona and virtually every other four year institution in the Western Hemisphere. One of the frontcourt slots vacated by Bowers and Durr will be filled by Lawrence Dixon, an athletic 6-4 1/2 junior from Columbia, Md., who got extensive playing time as a sophomore reserve and who had a good Summer for the Cavaliers. Dixon plays on the Cecil Kirk 16 & Under AAU Team. Glick expects big things from Dixon. The 6-11 Loughry will get a shot at replacing Bowers in the post, though Coach Glick is considering a number of possible frontcourt line-ups. Regardless of whether he starts or not, Loughry, who has gained over 20 pounds since last year and made significant strides as player, will get major minutes and be a key part of the frontcourt rotation after getting limited time the last two seasons. "I'm up to 237 pounds now,” said Loughry. "I feel a lot stronger. I'm really anxious to get out there and play this year." Loughry is committed to attend Mt. St. Mary's college next year where he will join former Spalding stanouts Durr and Landy Thompson. Glick's other frontcourt options include: Anthony Angion, a 6'5" 250 pound junior who is up from the Spalding JV who bears a more than slight resemblance to a younger, shorter Lonnie Baxter. Angione missed most of the summer action with a leg injury, but looked good in the practice we attended; Johann Jones, a 6-4 sophomore who will move up from the JV. Jones is an athletic player who loves to attack the glass and run the floor. "He is my 'surprise' sophomore this year,” Glick told “I thought Johann would need another year of JV ball, but he 'blew up' this summer. He is a rebounding machine. He really plays hard and he's a good athlete." 6-4 senior Matt Cornell is a hardnosed power player who is headed for Ohio State on a lacrosse scholarship. Cornell played sparingly for Glick last year, but looks like he might contribute more as a senior. He posseses the toughness and athleticsm that one would expect from a lacrosse player, but also has some nice passing/shooting skills. The Spalding backcourt will be greatly improved this year by the addition of highly regarded and highly publicized DeMatha transfer Justin Castleberry. Castleberry is one of three promsing transfers from Prince George's County that Spalding has added this year, though the other two players, both sophomores, will likely play on the JV this year. Castleberry, a 6-2 junior who was a part-time starter for the Stags as a sophomore in the tough WCAC, was one the D.C. area's most highly recruited and publicized eighth graders at The Mater Dei School in Bethesda two years ago. "Justin would have been our missing piece of the puzzle last year if he had been here,” said Glick. "He is a terrific 'combo guard". He shoots well enough to play the '2" (wing guard) and handles and passes well enough to play the point. We are really excited to have Justin. He is a great player as well as a great kid and a top student. He'll help us at both (guard) positions." Brooks is beginning his third season as Spalding's starting point guard. When Glick moved Brooks into a starting role late in his sophomore year, it was a defining moment in Spalding's successful run to the 2001-2002 BCL Championship. The Severn, Md., native is an "old school", throwback point guard. He doesn't score much, but he runs the offense and plays good defense. "Passing is my main thing,” Brooks told us at practice. "I don't worry about scoring and statistics, I just want to help the team win. I'll run the offense and play defense. My only goal for this year is to get us another BCL championship." Based on seeing Brooks in a number of off-season Spalding and AAU events (he plays with Rudy Gay on Cecil Kirk), Brooks does appear to have improved his outside shot. Brooks recently took an official visit to UConn, but he told us that he was going to wait until after the season to commit to a college. He told us that Towson and St. Francis of Pennsylvania are other schools that are interested in him. Competing with Castleberry at the wing guard position will be 6-0 junior Marquis Sullivan. Sullivan did not get much varsity playing time as a sophomore playing behind the three seniors that Glick rotated at the "2" last year, but Marquis is a very talented athlete who shows evidence of being a big time shooter/scorer. Sullivan, who is from Westminster, MD, averaged 22.5 points on the JV as a freshman in 2001-2002. He was very impressive in a recent practice and might bring Glick "instant offense" off of the bench if he doesn't start. 6-2 senior Kevin Galinant is a veteran who can play either guard position and is a good shooter. Crowd favorite Jason John, a quick 5-9 senior, lends depth at the point. The Spalding basketball program has clearly emerged as one of the top programs in the state of Maryland. Glick's four year record at the Severn BCL school is 96-40. He had previously gone 122-59 in six years at Pallotti HS. Glick's rebuilding job at Pallotti, where he had a hithero unknown co-ed school in Laurel challenging DeMatha, Gonzaga, Good Counsel and St. John's for WCAC supremacy was one of the amazing basketball stories in D.C. prep hoops history. Glick has sent nearly twenty players to Division One colleges, though it is his last two blue-chippers, Bowers and Gay, who have really put Spalding on the National scene, Glick told us that he "... really likes this team. I like our chances to be pretty good." He also reminded us that, with his most recent transfer pick-ups, "I really like our junior and sophomore classes." Based on the above, it looks like Spalding will continue to be a power even beyond the Rudy Gay Era. SPALDING NOTES: - Rickey Congo looks more like a football player than a basketball player, but Coach Glick is very high on 6-2, 250 ninth grader. Glick told us that Congo's father is 6'8" and played collegiately at Drexel. Inspite of his bulk, Congo is suprisingly agile and performed well in the Spalding post drills. Glick indicated that Congo would likely be a JV player as a freshman. - Sophomore transfer guards Derrick Young (Suitland) and Daniel Palumbo (DeMatha) both played very well in the Spalding practice and in the end of the practice scrimmages, but Coach Glick is projecting both as JV players this season. "Derrick is a pure point guard, he is going to be good. Daniel is a 6'3" 'combo' guard. He is a terrific athlete, but we'll probably put him on JV this year. He will play varsity baseball for Spalding this year. He is a really good athlete. We are very fortunate to have both of these kids." - While watching Spalding's practice, we were pleased to be introduced to Marquis Sullivan's grandfather, Roy Hilton. Mr. Hilton was a great defensive end for the Baltimore Colts in the 1960's and 1970's. He played in the famous Super Bowl III game when Joe Namath and the Jets upset the Colts!


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