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Defending state champion Carmel Greyhounds are up to the task
December 14, 2012VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Indiana
By Cliff Brunt
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
Carmel is always a target, it’s just a bigger one this season.
Coach Scott Heady said he’s proud of how his Greyhounds have dealt with the pressure of being defending state champions and holding the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press’ Class 4A poll. Carmel has opened the season with four wins, most notably a 50-49 victory at North Central on Friday.
Heady has warned his players, telling them to expect an extra effort from opponents.
“That’s something we talk about anyway,” he said. “When you’ve got Carmel across your chest, I think because of the tradition of the athletic program, you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. Add to that the fact that we’re coming off a state championship and we feel like we’re the hunted from the very start.”
The Greyhounds lost their top two scorers from last season. Ben Gardner, last year’s leading scorer, now plays for Division III Hope College. The No. 2 scorer, Sam Curts, also graduated.
“We did lose a lot, but we felt with the guys we had coming back we’d still be O.K.,” Heady said.
O.K. is an understatement. Senior guards Michael Volovic and James Crowley have stepped seamlessly into Gardner's and Curts' roles as top scorers. Volovic averages 17.8 points per game and Crowley averages 17.5.
Zach McRoberts, a returning starter who is the younger brother of former Carmel star and Indiana Pacers player Josh McRoberts, leads the inside game. The 6-foot-6 junior averages 11.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Volovic came up big late against North Central. The Panthers led by four late, but Volovic quickly found McRoberts for a layup. The Greyhounds got the ball back after Eron Gordon turned the ball over late, then the Greyhounds worked their magic.
Ryan Cline missed a 3-pointer, but McRoberts rebounded and passed out to Volovic in a single motion. Volovic, just 5-foot-9, drained a long 3-pointer with the 6-foot-6 Perry Poindexter in his face.
“He (Poindexter) really did a good job of extending and getting a hand up to contest the shot, and Michael just got it over him and made a great play,” Heady said. “But that’s what Michael is. He’s a winner.”
And that’s what the Greyhounds have been – winners. And in a state where Division I and NBA players seemingly grow on trees, Carmel has done it with a cast of very good players but no superstars. Heady said he thinks Volovic will play his way into a Division I scholarship, and he believes McRoberts will be a Division I player when he adds to his 185-pound frame. But Heady said the team succeeds because players with good talent sacrifice individual goals to make a great unit.
“We’re all about team, we’re all about being great teammates, being unselfish,” he said. “We try to do it defensively – that’s our foundation. Great team defense and just playing with the toughness. That’s been our recipe the last two years.”
McRoberts isn’t quite as athletic or as developed as his brother was at the same point in his career, but Heady said the potential is great.
“Zach, he does all the little things,” Heady said. “He gets the tipped balls, he gets the loose balls, he sets screens. He’ll do whatever he has to do to win. We’re looking for him to score more, and he is. Just the ultimate teammate, so unselfish. In the next year or so, physically, he’s going to develop and when that all comes together, then I think he’s going to take off. He’s got just a lot of upside.”
Crowley was a reserve last year who made a name for himself by torching the starters in practice.
“We knew he could score,” Heady said. “He’s got a scoring mentality. What he’s got to do, and he’s done a really good job and he’s got to continue to do is strive to be a complete player each night, to defend and rebound and get some assists and have a really complete floor game. He’s starting to do those things. From a scoring standpoint, he’s got a knack to put the ball in the basket.”
Heady said this year’s sectional is difficult, but another state title is possible if things fall into place. Teams in the sectional include No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 10 North Central.
“Just get better each week,” Heady said. “I think we have to develop some depth. If we can continue to improve and be at our best in March, with the teams in our sectional, if you win that, you’ve got a shot to win it.”
Cliff Brunt is the founder and editor of IndySportsLegends.com. He will be contributing to VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana) routinely throughout the year. You can follow him on Twitter @CliffBrunt_ISL