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The great debate: Quality vs. quantity

Both of Sterling's squads lack what we sports beefcakes like to call "Star Power." Can they turn that curse into a blessing.

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A year and change ago, I moved to the Sauk Valley. Two of the first stories I wrote were the season previews for Sterling's boys and girls basketball teams.

There was a common thread - both teams planned to get up and down the floor as quickly as possible and use their speed.

Fast forward to a year later. That strategy applies once again, and there's a common reason why.

Both teams, once again, seem to be going through a parallel transformation. The 2012 scenario is that both squads look remarkably different. Of course that's always the case in prep sports, but Sterling was bit particularly hard by the graduation bug.

If you think the girls team, sans three of its most crucial graduated parts - SVM player of the year Aleena Hammelman, point guard Paige Lobdell and bruiser Ashli King - went through an overhaul, the guys don't want to hear about it. They graduated all five of their starters and about 90 percent of their statistical production.

Girls coach Julie Schroeder and her players alike emphasized the importance of going five deep on the bench when I visited with them during the preseason. And that was on display Tuesday night against a very big, talented Sherrard team. I liked what I saw from Sterling's bench. Very little dropoff from the starting lineup. And with repetition, those new-to-varsity parts should run smoother and smoother.

While the guys talked about needing every player on the roster to be pulling on the rope in the same direction when I dropped by practice Tuesday evening, they didn't have to. The numbers tell the story. There are 15 guys eager to see exponentially increased minutes this season.

By relying on depth, the teams should be able to frequently sub and wear out opponents. But at the end of a close game, who gets the ball? Hammelman and Jose Knox aren't walking through that door. Friends and members of the program would have to argue that there's a benefit of having 10 kids, rather than a couple, who want the ball with the game on the line.

Over the next couple of months, we'll see how it works out. I hope it goes well. There's somethng about the old cliche that great teams are stronger than the sum of their parts that moves me.


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