File photo by Jeff Vorva
Simeon coach Robert Smith, left, talks with a referee during a game against Stagg at the Shepard Sectional in March. His powerhouse Wolverines will be back in the area, facing St. Rita Friday at Moraine Valley Community College’s new gym.
By Jeff Vorva
Bill Finn loves basketball.
The Moraine Valley Community College athletic director played at Richard High School and coached the sport at Moraine for 22 years and racked up 506 wins. He has a laundry list of great contacts in the inner circles of Illinois college and high school basketball and loves watching a matchup of power teams facing each other.
But don’t expect Finn to be glued to his easy chair on Friday when Simeon plays St. Rita on a game that will be broadcast live across the world on ESPN2.
That’s because he'll be busy. He and his facility will be hosting the event.
The Moraine Valley Community College Health, Fitness and Recreation Center officially opened in March. Nine months later, it will be featured for the world to see.
The new gym inside the facility, which seats 3,200 people, will be the host site of the game, which tips off at 5:30 p.m. But Finn figures to be working all day with preparation. The crew will be stopping by early in the morning to set up. Finn can’t wait.
“I am beyond excited,” he said. “I’ve been here 33 years and we’ve never had anything happen like this before. After my meetings, I would tell people ‘yeah, I just met with ESPN’ like it was a common occurrence.
‘’This fit the bill for them. They want to fill the place. They didn’t want UIC or Chicago State or Rosemont. This ended up being the perfect venue for size. We’ve had full-day showcases here before but nothing like this. This is requiring tons of more work but it’s worth it. The attention and exposure for our college and athletic program will be tremendous.’’
Finn said former players of his have connections with the Paragon Marketing group, which has ties with ESPN and the two sides came together in recent months to make this event work.
The talent on the floor will be special.
Simeon coach Robert Smith has coached stars Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker in his tenure. He may not have players of that caliber this year, but he has three Big 10 Conference signees in Edward Morrow (Nebraska), D.J. Williams (Illinois) and Isiah Moss (Iowa). The Wolverines opened the season 3-0 including Sunday’s 71-66 victory over Morgan Park at the CPS Rivalry Showcase at Whitney Young High School.
Simeon has won six Class 4A state titles in nine seasons including a historic four-year run that ended last season.
St. Rita won three of its first four games including last Friday’s 80-61 victory of St. Joseph.
Charles Matthews is heading to college powerhouse Kentucky while Armani Chaney is heading to Tennessee State while Myles Carter has Northwestern, Notre Dame, De Paul, Illinois and others still on his wish list.
Tickets are on sale now at the Palos Hills school’s rec center and will be available at the door. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for high school students with identification.
Finn hopes the thousands of fans at the game and many more watching the game on ESPN2 will enjoy the school’s new venue.
“This is not the Taj Mahal,’’ Finn said. “But it’s the Taj Mahal for me.’’