The most difficult thing for the Northwest boys basketball team about winning six games the last two seasons?
“Just being patient,” Northwest junior Jalen Smith said. “We knew we would be good in the future and we were always told to just wait, just wait, just wait. I think we’re done waiting now.”
Northwest returns two of the top players in the City League in Smith, a dynamic 6-foot junior guard, and Michael Duncan, a versatile 6-foot-6 senior forward.
In coach Bryan Chadwick’s third year, Northwest is expecting to make a push in the always-competitive City League. The Grizzlies caught the attention of many with their performance in the Wichita summer league.
“That was a building block for us,” Chadwick said. “We’ve been through the battles and we’ve been beaten bad in the past. Now I think it’s time for us to take it over and try to beat on somebody else.”
Chadwick has created a free-flowing attack at Northwest in his dribble-drive offense, which grants players the freedom to use their ability to take defenders off the dribble to create scoring looks.
Smith and Duncan fit perfectly into the mold to run the offense.
Smith has the quickness and ball handling to break down defenders, while Duncan hit a growth spurt to make his three-point shooting even more of a matchup problem. Duncan can draw bigger defenders out to open up driving lanes to the basket and then make them pay with the outside shot if they stray.
Chadwick already is looking forward to the possibilities of the duo in pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop situations.
“We can pretty much expose any advantage that we think we have on the other team,” Duncan said. “It’s going to be extremely lethal.”
“I don’t think teams are going to know how to guard that,” Smith said. “If they help off, then Michael can flat-out shoot. If they don’t, then I’m going to the lane.”
Northwest, which plays host to West on Friday, is still young and still unproven in one of the most difficult leagues in the state.
But the returning players are tired of being told to wait; they want to make a statement now.
“We’ve been waiting for this year for a long time,” said Duncan, a senior. “For us, this has to be it. This is the year we have to leave our mark.”