STEVE HANLON: Region hoopsters hope to be regional spoilers

2013-03-08T18:00:00Z 2013-04-09T23:39:09Z STEVE HANLON: Region hoopsters hope to be regional spoilersSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
March 08, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

It shouldn't be a shock that there is a strong connection between the best basketball players in Northwest Indiana. Summer hoops has been bringing people together for a long time.

But in today's IHSAA boys basketball regionals, there is a direct connection between many of our sectional champions. They all used to be Spoilermakers.

And that's what they want to be in Hoosier Hysteria.

The Dyer-based team had Merrillville's Jake Raspopovich and Zoran Talley, Andrean's Nick Davidson and Matt Ruberry along with Munster's Michael Schlotman.

And just for yucks, the No. 1 player in the nation, Chicago Simeon's Jabari Parker, also played for the Spoilermakers.

The program was started by Mike Burvan, son of former Rensselaer football and wrestling coach Joe Burvan, in 2003. All these seniors were in second grade then.

With this talent pool the team won most of the tournaments they entered.

"The team was loaded with talent," Mike Burvan said. "All these kids have a love for the game. Their dedication to fundamentals was amazing. I knew these guys were going to be special."

The core stayed together for five years. As the players moved into middle school the Spoilermakers broke up. Burvan believed it was best for the players to move into their high school program's feeder system.

Davidson and Ruberry have led Andrean to four straight sectional titles. Their 59ers will play Lew Wallace in the Class 3A Plymouth Regional.

Raspopovich and Talley have led the Pirates to two straight sectional titles. Schlotman led Munster to its second sectional crown in the last three years.

It isn't surprising to Burvan that three of his best former players are all point guards, Davidson, Raspopovich and Schlotman.

"We worked on dribbling the ball all the time, fundamentals," Burvan said. "They were so young and we didn't know how they were going to grow. But if they could dribble the ball and play fundamentally they would be able to play high school basketball."

Burvan just said, "Ohhhh," when asked about today's Schlotman-Raspopovich at the Class 4A Michigan City Regional semifinal. He followed that with, "That is a good question."

The question was, "Who has the best advantage?"

Burvan, who remains close to all of his former players and their families, summed it up like I would.

"First, Jake and Michael are very good friends," Burvan said. "Jake is a gunslinger. He has a flare for the dramatic. Michael is Mr. Basic. He does everything by the book."

 Then, Burvan summed up today's games and this column.

"Neither of them are their team's top scorers," he said. "But both of them are the glue to their team. Both can handle the ball very well.

"I think ties a lot of teams together. These kids have worked very hard and they're having great success in their senior years."

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

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