Preps Talk

York's Cohn adjusts to coaching changes


York's Cohn adjusts to coaching changes

York basketball star David Cohn has played for four head coaches in four years. And the coach who recruited him to attend Colorado State now is coaching at Nebraska. Maybe the 6-foot-2 senior point guard should change his brand of deodorant or mouthwash.
In the merry-go-round that has been York's basketball program in recent years, Cohn has played for Roy Biancalana, Dominic Cannon, Tom Kleinschmidt and now Vince Doran, who was at Hinsdale South for 10 years before making the move to the Elmhurst school.
"It definitely has been a difficult adjustment," Cohn said. "In theory, you want to have the same coach for four years in high school. You know each other, you know their tendencies, you know what to do when he yells at you. Biancalana and Kleinschmidt were 180 degrees, very different coaching styles.
"I have played four different offenses in four years. Biancalana was an in-your-face coach, Cannon was laid back and Kleinschmidt was a little bit of both. Doran is in-your-face, too. Their personalities are different. But it has worked. You have to have good relationships with all of your coaches."
Doran may be the toughest of all. From the moment he was hired last summer, he took Cohn aside and challenged him to play better defense as a senior. The common perception of Cohn was he was a scorer but didn't play at the other end of the floor.
Cohn wanted to prove his critics wrong.
"(Doran) said he wants more out of me. He went out of his way to let me know I have to take control, be the captain. He invested time to let me know what I have to do and set an example for the other players. He has been the most challenging coach I have had--but in a good way," Cohn said.
"He is on me about my off-the-ball defense. He praised me, saying I am the best on-the-ball defender but the worst off-the-ball defender. I have to get better on defense. I don't think my off-the-ball defense is as bad as he thinks it is. But sometimes I watch too much. I need to dominate the game on offense and defense. That's what I have been striving for this year."
Cohn has been effective. He is averaging 18 points per game and has led York to a 12-3 record. After losing back-to-back games to Hinsdale Central and Naperville North, the Dukes have won their last five in a row, capping the streak with a 30-29 victory over Conant in the championship game of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York.
They will return to regular-season competition against Downers Grove North on Friday, then meet Downers Grove South on Saturday in the Downers Grove North Shootout. On Jan. 18, York will meet Oak Park in a duel for first place in the West Suburban Silver Conference race.
"This is the best team I have been on," Cohn said. "Our two 6-foot-8 guys are more developed. We have more talent. Our inside presence this year is huge. We can go as far as our chemistry and our defensive mentality take us. Winning our holiday tournament showed how mentally prepared we can be to play against any style of offense."
Cohn is surrounded by 6-foot-8 senior Justin Kurash (8 ppg, 8 rpg), 6-foot-8 junior Frank Toohey (9 ppg, 9 rpg), 6-foot-2 junior Charlie Rose (7 ppg) and 6-foot-2 junior Stanley Roberts (5 ppg). Two 6-foot-3 juniors, Jack Heinle and Chris Klos, are reliable contributors off the bench.
In his first season at York, Doran hopes to make history. The Dukes haven't won a conference championship or a regional title since 2006. Last year's team was 20-9 but lost to Lake Park in the regional final. Cohn hasn't hoisted a regional trophy in the last three years.
"A great foundation was laid by Biancalana, Cannon and Kleinschmidt," Doran said. "It was a smooth transition for me. We had a good nucleus of talent coming back. The pieces were in place to have a winning program. I knew Cohn was a great player. He is very athletic and smart, a player who comes around every so often. He is difficult to stop once he gets a full head of steam going.
"But it isn't a one-man show. We have a lot of people who can hurt you. We're off to a good start. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. However, we have a lot of room to improve on offense. We are very good on defense but we haven't shot the ball as well as we can. We need more flow on the offensive end. If we do that, we will be tough to stop."
Cohn isn't concerned. He is confident that the shots will begin falling sooner than later. And while he admits he used to be lethargic on defense and took some plays off when he shouldn't have, he insists he is playing harder on both ends of the floor this season and isn't taking any plays off.
York has converted only 25 percent of its three-point shots to date, Cohn only 35 percent compared to 45 percent a year ago. But not to worry.
"Our defense is the best we have had. I know in a month from now our shots will start falling and we'll start clicking and that's when we will be dangerous," Cohn said.
Meanwhile, Cohn remains firmly committed to Colorado State even though the coach who recruited him, Tim Miles, has moved to Nebraska. Coaching changes are the nature of the business but Cohn admits he thought it had more to do with college and the NBA rather than high school. Still, when Miles left Colorado State, Cohn didn't panic.
"I think all changes will be good down the road. You hope it won't happen in college but you anticipate it might happen," Cohn said. "I had no thought of de-committing from Colorado State when Miles left.
"I had a good relationship with assistant coach Niko Medved. He told me that Miles might be leaving. He stayed at Colorado State with new coach Larry Eustachy. I met the new coach in June. I liked him. He has a great track record and he is very enthusiastic. So I decided to stay.
"How do you adjust to coaching changes? You can't get overwhelmed. You must be mentally tough. Do what the coach asks, bust your butt 247 and everything will be all right. It has worked. I trust them and they trust me. I couldn't have adjusted so well if they hadn't adjusted to me. I couldn't have been luckier."

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren


91 Days to Kickoff: Warren preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

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Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

As the Bears set their foundation for training camp during OTAs this month, one part of that is beginning to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses on which to build in Bourbonnais. 

Designing an offense to Mitch Trubisky’s strengths was one of the reasons why Ryan Pace hired Matt Nagy, who then hired Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. Easy is the wrong word — but it wouldn’t have made sense for the Bears to not build an offense around their second-picked quarterback. 

But as Nagy and Helfrich are installing that offense during OTAs and, next month, veteran minicamp, they’re also learning what Trubisky’s weaknesses are. And the one Helfrich pointed to, in a way, is a positive. 

“Experience,” Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in your progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”

It'd be a concern if the Bears thought Trubisky lacked the necessary talent to be great, or had a lacking work ethic or bad attitude. Experience isn't something he can control, in a way. 

This isn’t anything new for Trubisky. His lack of experience at North Carolina — he only started 13 games there — was the biggest ding to his draft stock a year ago; while he started a dozen games for the Bears in 2017, the offense was simple and conservative, designed to minimize risk for Trubisky (and, to be fair, a sub-optimal group of weapons around him). 

But even if Trubisky started all 16 games in an innovative, aggressive offense last year, he’d still be experiencing plenty of things for the first time. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made this point back in September that still resonates now with regard to Trubisky:

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks,” Roethlisberger said. “In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

So the challenge for Nagy and Helfrich is to build an offense that accentuates Trubisky’s strengths while managing his lack of experience. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in those efforts last year with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively. 

For Helfrich, though, one of Trubisky’s strengths — his leadership qualities — are already helping mitigate his need for more experience. 

“He’s still in the mode of learning and doing things out here,” Helfrich said. “We might have run one play 10 times against 10 different defenses, you know? And so his response to every one of those 10 things is brand new. And so, you see his reaction to some of those is good. Some of those things you want to improve upon and then keep your chest up and lead because we need that.”