GENEVA – The Kaneland boys basketball team showed it could win with an undersized lineup last season.
The development of senior forward Matt Limbrunner looms large if the Knights are going to repeat that trick next season.
At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Limbrunner projects to be the Knights’ starting center, and knows he’s in for numerous battles against taller, rangier post players.
“You’ve got to get all the techniques right, all the simple stuff, you’ve got to get all that right, like boxing out,” Limbrunner said. “You’ve got to play big I guess, as big as I can.”
As the Knights awaited their Geneva Summer League opener Wednesday night, Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said Limbrunner is showing early signs of transforming from a role player into an anchor of Kaneland’s frontcourt.
“I think he’s ready to turn the corner to be a major contributor,” Johnson said. “He gave us some really nice minutes last year. At times he was a little inconsistent just because he was getting used to playing varsity basketball, but I think he’s ready to turn the corner and kind of make a name for himself.”
Limbrunner is used to playing the post, having been one of the taller guys as a young player before others’ growth spurts negated his size advantage. He’s confident he’ll be able to score against taller foes but said preventing other teams’ centers from dominating offensively is the greater challenge.
“I think it’s more on defense,” Limbrunner said. “Offense, you can find a way to score, you can make moves or whatever, but defensively, they can shoot over you more easily.”
With 6-foot-9 standout Dave Dudzinski two years removed from the Knights’ program and promising underclassman Daniel Helm having transferred before the 2011-12 season, the Knights had to acclimate to being outmanned in the paint most nights last season. Still, with quality wing-sized athletes such as Marcel Neil, Thomas Williams and Dan Miller, the Knights were seldom walloped in the rebound department, and wound up winning an IHSA 3A regional title.
Johnson said he was worried about the rebounding outlook heading into last season, but the Knights’ athleticism and emphasis on rebounding fundamentals kept their size shortfall from spelling disaster.
“We do have some kids who have a knack for being pretty aggressive at their positions, maybe more than normally, at the 2-guard spot, the 3-guard spot,” Johnson said. “That definitely helps.”
Though Neil graduated, Williams and Miller return, and Johnson said varsity newcomer Dylan Nauert and John Pruett – who played sparingly as a sophomore – will add depth to the Knights’ frontcourt.
Miller, in street clothes Wednesday while battling tendinitis, thinks Limbrunner is a solid building block to keeping the perimeter-oriented Knights viable down low.
“He’s looking really good in the summer so far,” Miller said. “His post moves have improved a lot, he’s working on his shot, and it looks really good. We had a tournament at Addison Trail and he played great, so he’s looking very good.”