HIGHLAND PARK — No news is good news for the Highland Park boys basketball team this summer.
“I would say it’s what we expected,” forward Jordan Krawitz said. “We know who we are.”
What they are is a team that won a Class 4A regional championship in March. The core of that squad — Krawitz, David Sachs, Luke Norcia, Hallvard Lundevall, Jason Beermann, Max Goshen and Jacob Iden — will be seniors.
So the Giants went into June knowing who they are. The better question is, what can they become?
“We look like a veteran team, which in the summer is a huge advantage,” coach Paul Harris said. “For every guy we are looking for them to enhance their strengths and address weaknesses.”
Harris’ teams have earned a reputation as defensive stoppers. That was important in the Giants’ unexpected postseason run in March. In three playoff games, they limited opponents to an average of 45 points.
The regular season is when practice drills are geared more toward establishing a defense-minded culture. Summer is for developing offensive skill sets, according to Krawitz.
“Our defense is our key,” he said. “It’s significant for [the program]. Summer is when we work on the offensive part of our game.”
Krawitz, a 6-foot-4 forward, is working to improve his post game.
Soon after the high school season ended, Krawitz severely sprained his right ankle in a pickup game. The injury prevented him from trying out for an AAU team. He got healthy in time for the June period.
Krawitz wasn’t sedentary during his basketball layoff. He lifted weights, focusing on arm, chest and shoulder exercises. He said the extra strength is helping his play this summer.
“I feel I have more control over my body,” Krawitz said. “I can back kids down more and use my body in more ways that I could [before].”
Because of the injury, Krawitz will not play AAU basketball this summer. He said he would have played on the same Rising Stars team as Sachs and Norcia. Instead of participating in the July tournament season, he’ll be at summer camp.
On July 3, Krawitz leaves for Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and Camp Horseshoe. It features all the outdoor activities a teenager could want: fishing, sailing and swimming.
“You sleep in a tent, learn how to make a fire, go canoeing,” Krawitz said.
Admitting he’s not adept at catching musky or walleye — “I’m a horrible fisherman,” he said — Krawitz said he will stick to what he knows over the four or five days he will be in Northern Wisconsin.
“I like to sail and play basketball,” Krawitz said.
In four months, when the regular season starts and it most likely will be too chilly to sail, Krawitz and his Giants teammates will play basketball. And an uneventful June — where the team’s core participated in tournaments at Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Carmel — is expected to show its impact by November.
“What we found is there’s that sense of purpose knowing this group of seniors this is our last time to play together,” Harris said. “They understand past success doesn’t guarantee future success.”
“We got a taste of what it’s like to be a winning team,” Krawitz added. “We want more of it.”