Love of the Game

Coach Pingatore is a great educator of the court.

Coach Pingatore is a great educator of the court.

Paris Morgan, Staff Writer

Michael Jordan once said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” As the fall sports of St. Joseph High School are in the midst of their seasons, the winter sports are slowly forming teams and conditioning for the upcoming season. The boys’ basketball team, in particular, have been conditioning outside, as well as lifting weights and participating in open gyms. The boys seem to be very determined coming out of last year’s great season as Regional Champions. According to USA Today High School Sports, the St. Joseph varsity boys basketball team is ranked 13th in their conference and 34th in the state of Illinois.

The varsity head coach, Coach Pingatore, has been coaching St. Joe’s varsity basketball for the past 44 years. Coach Ping provides a lot of insight about this upcoming season as far as the many talents on the team as well as his philosophy as a coach. He says, “As a basketball coach, I am also an educator. The basketball court is my classroom, my priority is to make sure I can get those student athletes to the next level, hopefully college.” His philosophy is very simple, if you have a dominant point guard and no other talent, the team will always be competitive. If you have a big guy and no point guard, then you are in some trouble. He goes on to say that as scary as it seems, he needs his point guard to be the leadership on the floor with a brain that is similar to his.

Coach Ping is a good judge of talent. He believes in discipline and control but at the same time he allows the players their freedom and to use their talents within the system. Coach Ping says that every season is the same: you start the year with some players returning from the previous year along with some new players, and the biggest challenge is trying to blend everyone together. “Talent isn’t everything, playing together is what matters most!”

Junior shooting guard, Karriem Simmons says that the team’s goal this year is to “Win the state championship.” Simmons goes on to say that he is excited and confident about the upcoming season, and he has a good feeling about this team. “The season has started right now,” Simmons stated. In light of last year’s great season, Simmons feels that they have high expectations to meet. He feels that St. Joseph is known for basketball and they have to keep the legacy going with some of the pressures that the school has put on them. Simmons enjoys assisting others rather than shooting for himself.

Junior point guard, Michael Brooks also says that the team’s goal this year is to “Win the state championship.” He describes the team as family, athletic, and versatile. Brooks feels that coming out of last year’s great season, the team has to get better year by year; he wants to have a better overall record and win conference for the first time being in the Chicago Catholic League. His practice philosophy is that practice makes you play harder and it also forms team chemistry. Brooks is ready to continue St. Joseph’s legacy as one of the powerhouse schools of basketball.

Senior power forward, Ronald Lewis, says, “I feel like the team has enough talent and potential to win a lot of games as well as tournaments this year, but the deciding factor is leadership. If we have guys step up and be leaders this year and we all work hard collectively, then there’s nothing that can stop us from winning a state championship this year.” Senior guard, Denzel Patton says, “Well I think we are going to be a very good team. This is a talented group, and we have all the pieces to go far in our season. Our first focus will be to get better as a team, chemistry wise, and focus on each game one by one. Then we will take on bigger challenges such as bringing home a state title to St. Joseph High School.”

The official season starts November 5th and Coach Ping knows that this year is going to be fun, interesting, and filled with lots of tough games. The best way to describe the upcoming season was said best by Tim Duncan, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”