DeKALB – Rudy Lopez knows the value of being around for the DeKalb basketball team’s summer workouts, whether it’s a game in Crystal Lake or evening practice at DeKalb High.
The Barbs’ sophomore point guard makes sure he’s active in trying to get the other players out to the team’s events, persuading his teammates and urging everyone to be part of activities this summer.
“I feel like they need to be here,” Lopez said before the Barbs’ workout at school Tuesday. “If you’re not here in the summer, it’s going to be hard to make the team in the winter.”
Getting involved before the season also is a chance for players to gel with the rest of the team, which will have a good amount of new blood on the floor this winter.
“I think it’s definitely a big thing, to know everyone so everybody knows each other,” Lopez said. “You’re going to be a team, you’re going to be together for three months, why not know each other?”
The IHSA allows teams 25 “contact days” during a designated summer period. Despite summer baseball games and football workouts going on, Barbs coach Dave Rohlman said has felt great about his team’s turnouts. He said he’s had about 18 to 20 players show up for events, whether it’s a practice or game. Last week, DeKalb had contests in Hinckley and Crystal Lake.
To Rohlman, the summer is a time for players to get used to varsity, and their team. Sophomores such as Luke Davis, Michael Pollack and Ethan Conroy, who Rohlman said will play varsity this year, are getting used to the new level.
“We’re bringing kids up to the varsity that aren’t familiar yet. You’re bringing up freshmen to the sophomore level,” he said. “You’re getting those kids used to playing with each other. You get them used to the speed at the next level and so forth.”
For the 6-foot-5 Davis, it’s been a chance to fine-tune his game with a new team.
“It’s been a good experience (this summer),” Davis said. “I’ve been getting a challenge.”
With veterans Andre Harris, Jake Carpenter and Jake Smith gone, there’s going to be a lot of new faces on the Barbs this season. Rohlman mentioned Jace Kitchen, Taylor Ihm and Devonte Thompson as other juniors who could make an impact in addition to Lopez, a Daily Chronicle all-area selection last season.
Lopez said the summer gives the team a chance to see where it is heading into the season.
“I feel like from the beginning of the summer until now, we can see how good we can be. We see how we can play bad sometimes,” he said. “When we do things we’re supposed to do, we can be a really good team.”