Boys basketball wins with speed over height


Junior Owen Giannoulias drives to the basket in a game against Glenbrook South on Jan. 6. Glenbrook North won the game 65-57, and the team beat GBS again on Jan. 31. Photo By Jiya Sheth

After a Glenbrook South player failed to catch a pass, the basketball rolled over to senior Ryan Cohen, setting him up for a fast break. With no defenders in sight, Cohen dunked the ball and the crowd erupted into cheers on the team’s senior night.

“I’m able to dunk, I haven’t done it a lot because it hurts my knees,” said Cohen. “It was senior night and there was a huge crowd and it was against our rival, so I knew I had to dunk, throw it down and get everyone excited.”

Cohen is one of the tallest players on the team, listed at 6 foot 3 inches tall. A majority of the players in the rotation are at or below 6 feet tall, smaller than many of their competitors.

“The height is not really a problem on offense because we have so many shooters and we’re all super quick,” junior Josh Fridman said.

Opponents typically have a game plan that tries to shut down Cohen, resulting in Fridman and other guards on the team to be left open, Fridman said.

According to head coach Quin Hayes, he thinks the team’s height gives them an advantage. 

“Being a little bit smaller, we’re able to play a little bit faster,” said Hayes. “We want to play fast, we want to make other teams play fast and make [them] uncomfortable on offense.”

According to Cohen, the team’s offense is more spread out instead of having a taller player in the paint all the time, which creates opportunities for the guards to take advantage of their speed to drive past taller players.

“I think all the time it’s an advantage because if these teams are taller than us, that means there’s going to be some sort of mismatch somewhere,” said Cohen. “A bigger guy is going to be guarding one of our smaller guys and that’s the time when we attack and use our quickness against them.”

Cohen, who is verbally committed to play Division III basketball at WashU, reached 1,000 career points in a game against St. Ignatius on Jan. 7.

As of Feb. 13, the Spartans (24-4, 7-3) are led in scoring and assists by Fridman who is averaging just over 14 points and almost three assists per game. Cohen leads the team in rebounding at just over four boards per game and is averaging 12.8 points per game. 

“It’s pretty cool that we’re not the biggest team,” said Fridman. “The way that we play is definitely extremely fun because of the quickness we have on the court and how we move the ball so well.”