To watch Roncalli play defense is like watching a tornado: controlled chaos.
Whether it’s in a game in front of hundreds of Jets fans or in practice under the watchful eye of Roncalli coach Joe Rux, the players never stop moving.
“You never know when you’ll be off in terms of offensive,” Rux said of his emphasis on the defensive side of things. “Rather than sitting around waiting for a shot to fall you can keep yourself in the game by just playing defense. Eventually things will go your way and shots will go in and if they don’t you’ll still be in position to win.
“We’ve had that happen this season where shots weren’t falling and we were able to hold on and find a way to win in other ways.”
The mentality of always following the ball and staying active is one that Rux’s players have embraced whole heartedly.
“We work extremely hard on defense and our defensive concepts,” said senior shooting guard Josh Erickson. “The reason we’re always swarming is we preach it’s not one-on-one defense it’s team defense…we have guys subbing in like Alex Deets and Sam Dudek who come in and give us good minutes.”
Roncalli has clamped down on teams all season, limiting opponents to 50 points or less in 20-of-26 games this season.
To put that into perspective, Roncalli’s opponent today, Brown Deer, averages 68 points per game and has been held to 50 or less just once and under 60 five times.
Rux gave a simple answer on why his players have took to his brand of hectic defense.
“I think because they want to play,” Rux chuckled. “Kids want to be on the floor and an opportunity to get minutes and they know that’s one of the prerequisites. Everyone is going to play defense and everyone is going to work hard … as long as they’re working hard and playing D the rest will sort itself out.”
Rux credits his senior point guard and defensive maestro Tyler Heyduk for setting the tone for the whole team on the defensive end.
“You watch Tyler play defense on opposing points guards and he makes it real difficult to even dribble the ball much less get people into their offense. That sets the tone for us, when Tyler is playing good defense we tend to play better which carries over to our offense. He’s the guy who starts it all.”
Heyduk gave a similar basic answer as to why every player on the Jets roster are so committed to defense.
“It’s the main part of the game,” said Heyduk. “It’s what wins games, wins championships. Hopefully we can prove it.”