HAMMOND | This isn't like a "Saul to Paul" or "Rags to Riches" story. Well, not totally anyway.
Bishop Noll junior Larry Crisler isn't the same player he was a year ago. No, not at all.
"It's a whole new ballgame with Larry," Noll coach Drew Trost said after Wednesday's practice.
It's not like Crisler spent 90 seconds a game last winter running around the floor setting screens for other players to shoot, while spending the rest of the game on the bench waving a towel.
The Gary lad started every game and averaged 12 points and seven rebounds. But the 6-foot-3 swing player was not the first, second or third choice to take a shot in Noll's offense.
The graduation of six seniors off a 20-win team changed everything.
The role player has become the Noll player.
Crisler scored 28 points in the Warriors' opening win over Morton. He scored 26 against North Newton and had 23 with 14 rebounds against Hammond on Saturday.
"It surprised me a little bit," the soft-spoken Crisler said. "I didn't expect to get 28 against Morton. I'm just driving more and getting offensive rebounds."
Here is what's so crazy about this kid: he played in one basketball game this past summer. He said he shot a couple of layoffs one other time. His commitment to baseball kept the big orange ball out of his hands when other hoopsters were honing their skills.
Crisler has five D-I baseball offers as of Wednesday.
"Larry loves a challenge," Trost said. "People saying we were not going to be very good this year has driven him. He hates to lose."
Crisler came off the bench in 2010-11 as Noll advanced to the Class 2A state championship game. But he had a mask on his face to protect his broken nose in the game the Warriors lost to Indianapolis Park Tudor 43-42.
He played only six minutes and scored two points.
"I'll go to my grave saying we win the state championship if Larry doesn't break his nose," Trost said.
When asked if playing half-blind and only losing by a point at Conseco Fieldhouse motivates him, Crisler brought up another postseason loss that burns hotter.
It was last year's 77-58 loss to Bowman Academy in the Wheeler Sectional championship game.
"The Bowman game motivates me more," Crisler said. "I'm from Gary and I know a lot of those guys. That one bothers me more."
He will take his 23-point and 8-rebound average into Saturday night's game at Lake Station. The self-proclaimed biggest fan of Taylor Swift and ESPN believes this Warriors team can be every bit as good as those of the past.
Noll has gone 46-5 with Crisler on the roster.
"We're still in the learning process right now," Crisler said, "but by the end of the year we'll be where we need to be."
Trost is not shocked that Crisler is putting up the numbers he has so far.
"I believe Larry is one of the best players in Northwest Indiana," Trost said.