In Play with Tom Markowski

U-D looks to next season after losing in the Class A semifinals for the second consecutive season

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

U-D looks to next season after losing in the Class A semifinals for the second consecutive season

East Lansing – Twice U-D Jesuit has reached the Class A semifinals the past two seasons and twice the Cubs lost.

The bitter taste will last a few days but there’s a different flavor this season.

The Cubs had mostly a veteran team that lost to Bloomfield Hills, 85-75, last season.

Entering this season the only returning starter was Cassius Winston. The other player returning with playing experience was Gary Collins, a senior, so it surprised many that U-D was able to get back to the Breslin Center. And though it lost to Detroit Western, 55-46, on Friday, the future looks bright.

Collins is the senior who played significant minutes this season. The other four played sparingly.

U-D’s success next season begins with Winston, a 6-1 guard who will be the favorite for the 2016 Mr. Basketball award. He has already received scholarship offers from Michigan and Michigan State, among others.

“It’s a different disappointment,” Winston said when asked to compare the two seasons. “Last year we put it all on the line. We were more experienced. That’s a valid excuse but still we were there. We had a chance to win (against Western).

“It’s hard for some to see the improvement we made since November. We were lazy.”

Joining Winston next season will be the two 6-8 Nigerians, Ike Eke and Greg Eboigbodin, and Collins’ brother, Elijah, who will be a sophomore next year.

Coach Pat Donnelly said the bar has been raised with the success of these past two seasons.

U-D finished 23-3 this season including another Catholic League championship.

“I feel bad for these guys,” Donnelly said. “No one expected us to get this far.

“Our expectations are higher next year. We need to shoot better. We need to go back into the gym and work harder. We do have eight of our top nine returning. That doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. We need to score with contact.

“I definitely think we can make a run next year.”

Unlike this past season, many more will be on U-D’s bandwagon.