By Abbas Haleem
It’s about next year for two new Roosevelt players.
There are only three games left this season for Roosevelt basketball team, and it is unlikely Thomas Cutts and Jake Asquini will play in either of them.
However, teammates say the transfer players have displayed the skill needed to compete in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. They appear to be improving quickly and are expected to make contributions next season.
“If they knew the system, to tell you the truth, they would be playing right now,” said senior Pete Mroz, who also joined Roosevelt midway through his first season. “I think that’s how good they are. Once they get to know all that, hopefully this semester will help them for next year and they’re going to be just fine.”
Cutts, a transfer from Aurora University, and Asquini, from Augustana College, both said a benefit of joining Roosevelt was living in the city. But they stressed they really came for the coaching. Cutts said everyone competes at Roosevelt and that the program is more organized.
“We pay more attention to defense and rebounding,” Cutts said. “At Aurora, it was a lot less defense and trying to outscore people.”
Roosevelt coach Joe Griffin said the two have upped the team’s intensity at practice. Having Cutts and Asquini means reducing repetitions for some of the team’s high-minute players.
Cutts and Asquini became part of the scout team for their first semester, representing upcoming opposing players during the team’s offensive and defensive sets at practice. Griffin said their best skill at the moment isn’t in their play, but rather that their desire to improve.
“They’re working hard and they want to ask questions and learn,” Griffin said.
For Asquini, the transfer was about finding an offensive system in which he can thrive. He said he didn’t see himself fitting into the offense or gaining from the coaching at Augustana. Although Asquini said he hasn’t learned the Lakers’ offense yet, he noticed the team’s unselfish play and appreciates how straightforward Roosevelt coaches are with him.
Another factor that drew Asquini to Roosevelt was being able to play on the same team as a childhood friend, leading scorer Jake Ludwig.
The two grew up playing pickup basketball together on the same street in St. Charles, Illinois, but went to rival high schools.
“We’d go to this park and play with all the older guys right down the street,” Ludwig said. “It prepared us for the future.”
Ludwig said it helps to have a player like Asquini spread the floor because of his ability to shoot from NBA three-point range. He also said he likes having home blood on his team.
“I was supposed to hate him and stuff playing against him (in high school), but he’s a really good player,” Asquini said. “It’s really good to play with him now.”