THE COLLEGE destination is Loyola Chicago. The assignment is . . .
Open for debate?
Yes, Courtney Stanley has signed to play point guard for the Ramblers, but if his future coaches get a glimpse of yesterday's game tape, the thought of switching him to power forward might flash into their minds.
Just kidding. Stanley, a senior at Roman Catholic High, is only 6-1, 170 pounds. But with early Catholic South bragging rights available before roughly 900 spectators at Philadelphia University, there was Stanley maintaining an all-business approach, especially in the vicinity of glass.
So, what would be an impressive rebound total for a normal-sized guard? Five? Even 10? Stanley went that latter total five better. He also totaled nine points, five assists and two steals as the Cahillites conquered their usual nemesis, Neumann-Goretti, 65-62, in a goodie that fell just short of a greatie.
"In practice, all we do is bang and bang some more," Stanley said. "Because we're undersized, coach [Dennis] Seddon puts a big emphasis on defense and rebounding. The practices are very competitive."
Pause. Big smile.
"There's almost a fight every day," he added. "We don't have to get into all that, though."
Because there is no true post player, and three guards (also Maalik Wayns and Rakeem Brookins) are almost always on the floor, all of the Cahillites need to make honest attempts to grab rebounds. That's especially so against a team such as Neumann-Goretti, which boasts four rotation members 6-5 or taller.
Thanks to Stanley, freshman Aaron Brown (nine) and senior Wes Kirkland (seven), Roman won the board battle, 38-34.
"The way Courtney's hitting the boards, that has been a pleasant development," Seddon said. "We need contributions from everybody."
"Knowing you're jumping higher than people who are 6-8 to grab rebounds, that's pretty exciting," Stanley said. "Not too many point guards get 15, right?"
Plus, Stanley - most of his boards resulted from sheer will, not dumb luck - is playing with an injured big toe on his right foot.
"It's killin' me," he said. "Just playing through the pain, though."
Early, the Saints appeared primed to exact revenge for last year's loss in the league championship game. Not only did they can their first six shots, when the seventh one missed, Daniel Stewart was right there with a follow to create a 16-6 cushion.
Led mostly by Wayns, who scored 17 of his 27 points before halftime (and drained four of his five treys), Roman impressively regrouped.
Although the fourth quarter was entertaining, free-throw shooting was a major shortcoming. The teams combined to go 11-for-23 at the not-always-charity stripe with seven of the failures coming in the final 44 seconds.
Neumann-Goretti edged within 63-62 at 30.3 seconds when Jamal Wilson (Rhode Island, 21 points, 10 rebounds) buried a trey. After Stanley missed a double-bonus at 28.4, Wilson grabbed the board then did likewise at the other end with Kirkland claiming the rebound of the second flub. Will, Wes' twin, passed ahead for a layup attempt by Brookins.
Swat! Tyrell Taylor blocked the shot over the baseline.
Will Kirkland hit the back end of a double-bonus at 9.8 and N-G had a shot to tie or win. Oops. No it didn't. Taylor was doubled on the left wing and Wayns knocked the ball away. Wes made a floor recovery, right alongside his twin, at 1.0. Will added one more free throw at 0.2.
Due to the presence of Wayns, who has already committed to Villanova, Stanley - who lives near Broad and Olney and plans to major in sports management - often has to settle for wing-guard duties.
"But a point, that's what I am, and it's going to be exciting to get to do that at the D-I level, at a competition level way higher than this," he said. "I watch Loyola's games on their Web site and try to picture how I'll fit in. I talk to their coaches, too. They tell me how they're doing and they ask what's up with me."
Courtney Stanley, a power forward disguised as a guard, can next time answer that one with a resounding, "My rebound total!" *