McCarthy’s versatility an asset for Titans
Glenbrook South's Conor McCarthy is defended by Amundsen's Kurtis Williams Saturday, December 8, 2012 in Glenview. I David Banks~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 2:52PM
GLENVIEW — Glenbrook South junior Conor McCarthy tosses in hook shots, aggressively goes for rebounds and frequently blocks shots.
He also spends much of his time at the top of the key setting picks and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to drive toward the basket.
Perhaps, the easiest way of getting to his essence is to realize that he possesses a skill set that the Titans have lacked for quite some time.
“Conor has been great for us,” senior forward Justin Busiel said. “The last few years, we’ve kind of been plugging guys in who aren’t really post players in the post, but this year has been really nice having an actual post guy in there. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s got some moves. He really works hard on the glass and everything, so he’s really just a big difference maker for our team.”
McCarthy is hardly a loud player. He just quietly puts away points. On Dec. 8 against Amundsen, he tied for the team lead with 14 points despite attracting relatively little notice.
After the Titans took a 24-8 lead into the second quarter, McCarthy helped make sure their lead stayed safe, tossing in a hook shot on the offensive end before recording a block on the defensive end.
As nice as his hook shot and block were, his assists were just as valuable, whether they were counted on the score sheet or not. With Glenbrook South up 28-13, he set a beautiful screen at the top of the paint, setting Busiel up for an open jumper.
“He’s one of our best screeners,” coach Ben Widner said. “The fact that he can move, he’s fleet of foot for being such a big kid, so he can run out there and set ball screens and catch on the perimeter and not be uncomfortable with the ball. He knows he can pass the ball on the outside, so being able to go inside-outside, he’s a talented player.”
Perhaps outside-inside would be a better descriptor of McCarthy, who said that he prefers to start near the perimeter and then circle in.
“That’s definitely my preference,” McCarthy said. “Pick first, and then once my man maybe shows the help, it’s easier to flash the ball.”
In that sense, McCarthy fits perfectly into an offense that prides itself on spreading the wealth. The Titans lack one true star, instead relying on fluid passing and precise cuts to get behind the defense.
“I always just try to open up my teammates with picks and then I’m looking to go to the ball and trying to get position on my man,” McCarthy said. “It’s just something I’ve always been trying to work on, getting position and setting picks off of the ball for my teammates. That opens up the ball for everyone, not just myself.”
Ultimately, McCarthy got his touches. He is rarely dominant, but he is consistent, scoring between two and four points in every quarter against the Vikings. And when he does get the ball, he knows what to do with it, beautifully faking his defender into the air in one instance to set up an open layup.
“That’s kind of something I’ve just always tried to implement in my game,” McCarthy said, “because guys like to try to block my shot always so if you get them up in the air, it’s just an easy finish.”
And it was just further proof that Glenbrook South has finally landed a post player — and a huge asset — in McCarthy.
“We don’t tend to have a ton of natural post players. I’m not sure why that is,” Widner said. “I don’t know if Conor is totally a true post player. He’s got some guard skills, but he does a good job.