STEVE HANLON: Big Cat and the clothing market

2014-02-21T21:00:00Z 2014-02-22T00:10:21Z STEVE HANLON: Big Cat and the clothing marketSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
February 21, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | If Rory Gard ever starts a business, buy the stock of the Lake Central senior. If you do, it could end up being like one of those nameless folks in California in the '70s who purchased Apple shares.

Gard sees something, comprehends the upside and then goes for it.

He designed a black T-Shirt with “Big Cat” written on the chest. There is a paw with scratch marks sort of shreading the fabric.

This idea was much better than the “I'm with Stupid” T-Shirts of past years and look how much that person made.

It was made to honor L.C. senior Tyler Wideman, the 6-foot-8 big man who is the best big man in this area since Luke Harangody. Period.

“I'm going to his commencement,” Crown Point coach Clint Swan said of Wideman after the Indians pounded the Bulldogs 77-43 to win the Duneland Athletic Conference title.

“I'm going to make sure (Wideman) walks across that line,” Swan said.

The first half that the Butler-bound Wideman had on Friday night was as good as I've seen in many moons. The kid called “Big Cat” by his mates had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and most importantly led his team to a 42-21 lead.

He finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists, being unselfish with the big lead and getting his teammates involved in the final 16, which was sweet.

“We need him to become a little more selfish,” L.C. coach Dave Milausnic said.

Wideman played in the shadows of Glenn Robinson III as a sophomore. That team won a sectional and a DAC title. That No. 45 is nothing like this 45.

His progression has been night and day.

“I saw him their opening game against Andrean and I said, 'Oh no, we're all in trouble,” Swan said. “He has a bounce in his step he didn't have before. His body is in the best shape it's ever been and he's playing the best basketball of his career.”

As good as Wideman is, he is humble for a superstar. When the Bulldogs' Bret Barclay went down hard on a collision, Wideman was the first one there with a hand on the back to make sure he was O.K., which he was.

This isn't, to be clear, just about his personality. Early in the second quarter Wideman went coast-to-coast and made a move to avoid the charge that was sick, hitting a beautiful scoop layup.

No wonder people are making clothes about this kid. Let me know when the Big Cat snow shoes hit the market.

“It's a good feeling,” Wideman said of the shirts. “It's nice to know people support me.”

Wideman isn't going to Butler just because it's one of the nation's top mid-major hoops programs. He wants his family and friends to be able to see him play at the next level.

“It's only a two-hour drive if the traffic is good,” he said.

On Sunday the IHSAA draw comes out, the first sentence in a tome that many area fans hope is long, like four weeks long.

Lake Central is in a very tough sectional, one of Indiana's best. But if the Indians and Wideman play like they did on this night, they are going to be a very tough out.

“We just have to keep playing our game,” Wideman said. “We have to rebound on offense, play great defense and move the ball around. If we do that we can be pretty good.”

Gard has sold 95 T-Shirts and has four still for sale. Those will be gone before sectionals get here for sure. If the Indians make a run in March, Gard better put in another order.

“That would be awesome,” he said.

And likely. This team, this kid, has a shot to make a run.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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