6:41 PM CST, January 25, 2013
Young gets the check in the center box. Power forward goes to Simeon. Small forward is too close to call. Simeon gets both guard checks. And none of it matters.
Position-by-position is a convenient way to preview a big game like Saturday's Young-Simeon showdown. It's also irrelevant.
Basketball is not a sum-of-the-parts sport. Games with this much high-level talent are won not by individual matchups but by the team that plays best together.
The surprising part of Young's success — the Dolphins are 17-1 against a schedule that includes many nationally ranked teams and is ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25 — is the chemistry they've developed on the fly with two out-of-state starters and two others playing different positions.
"I knew we could be good," Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. "But after playing last year on a national stage and seeing the caliber teams out there, it would be dishonest to say I knew we'd be this good.
"The chemistry has been working. Our guys enjoy playing with each other. Our starting five has been playing long minutes. We haven't done a lot of substituting. Those things have really helped our guys. When you play together and like each other, it works out."
The bench check, even without the three transfers who were declared ineligible earlier this month, belongs to Simeon with sophomores D.J. Williams and Ed Morrow and senior guard Rickey Norris.
Simeon hopes to make that category relevant. How the Wolverines go about this will be interesting.
They could force a fast pace to wear down Young, but that's hard to do while playing zone defense, which Simeon often does against the better teams.
They will probably go at Jahlil Okafor and try to get the 6-foot-11 center into foul trouble, though Okafor has managed to avoid it this season while averaging better than two blocked shots a game.
If that doesn't work, look for Simeon to turn on its energizer bunny, the 6-7 Morrow, and try to get Okafor to chase him down the floor.
"Things happen in a ballgame that you can't foresee," Slaughter said. "But it hasn't been a concern all year."
The check marks favor Simeon, while this season's results give Young the edge. Neither matters come Saturday night.
Here's where I'm supposed to tie everything together and predict the final score.
But I have no feel for this one, and guessing for the sake of it seems as silly as adding up check marks.
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