The losses do not bother T.F. North boys basketball coach Tim Bankston as much as how his team has lost.
"Mistakes, not finishing games," Bankston said. "This team has not played 32 minutes. If we play a good first half, then we have a bad second half. Bad first half, good second half. We are so inconsistent."
Thus is the way it has gone for the Meteors (6-9) this season. With just two seniors and playing freshmen and sophomores against a tough schedule, costly mistakes happen.
It is also midseason and time to step up. Oak Forest comes to town tonight for a South Suburban Blue showdown and the Bengals are enjoying a fine season. They were upset by Illiana Christian on Tuesday, so Matt Manzke 's team will be ready for the Meteors. Bankston admits that the basketball I.Q. may not be as high as his past teams due to the youth, but he also said it is time to play. He had a similar team a few years ago, and it never got it going.
"That team at least went out and fought hard," Bankston said. "These guys, they let things bother them. That other team, if they had a call go against them, they went out and got a rebounds, made a defensive stop. We just have not put it together and I hope we do soon."
Bankston never starts a season until the end of November or the first few days of December, and he lets his teams develop. He gears them to peak in late February and early March when the tournament starts.
"This team, the coaching staff has had to tell them things a few times, but I understand they are young and learning the game," Bankston said. "They need to do more things that will put us in a position to win. I think of the nine games we lost, two teams really beat us. The rest of the time we beat ourselves. A missed rebound, turnover, failure to make a stop or to set screen. You add up the little things and it costs you."
Bankston and his staff can draw up all the plays, give all the speeches they want, but at some point it has to sink in.
"There is a big difference in playing high school ball and AAU," Bankston said. "I'm not sure the kids understand this. This is about team play here, not just yourself. We preach team first."
Anyone who has been around Bankston know he preaches toughness as well as teamwork. His teams play hard and North is usually one of the top teams in the south suburbs. In fairness, he plays a tough schedule, so a younger team will struggle until it develops. That schedule is also there to toughen players up for March Madness. The Meteors are not a bad team, but they are not playing as well as they should.