Junior guard Conor Riordan has helped the Ankeny boys’ basketball team to a 5-5 record.
Riordan is the Hawks’ leading scorer with an average of 14.2 points per game. He also had a team-high 19 steals through the first nine games.
Here is some inside info on Riordan:
How is the season going thus far?
The season is going well. We are a younger team that keeps learning day in and day out. I love the group of guys that I get to go to work with each day. We get after each other in practice and compete. I’m excited to continue the season.
What has been the highlight for you?
I think the highlight of the season has been beating a talented Johnston team twice. The first time we played them, we played great defensively, and it was a good home win. The second time we beat them was big, too. It’s hard to beat a team twice, and we found a way to pull it out on their home floor.
You had to sit out your team’s game at Waukee on Dec. 12 due to an illness. How hard was it for you to sit on the bench that night?
I actually didn’t even sit on the bench. I went home and watched the game on the High School Cube. It was tough to watch, though. I wanted to be out there with my teammates playing in the Waukee Fieldhouse, which is a cool place to play. I think we learned a lot from that game, though.
Goals for the rest of the season?
I think our goal is just to be playing our best basketball come March. We want to get on a run and make the state tournament.
You were named the team’s Most Valuable Player last year as a sophomore, when you averaged 11.1 points and placed second on the squad with 48 assists. Did you expect to become a leader for the team in your first varsity season?
I just played as hard as I possibly could. I think that rubbed off on my teammates, and through that I think I naturally became a leader. I’m trying to work on being a more vocal leader this season, too.
Your assistant coach, Ryan Sears, was an all-state point guard at Ankeny who went on to become a four-year starter at Creighton. Have you learned a lot from him about how to run a team?
Yes, absolutely. Coach Sears is a great coach. He knows and understands the game really well. He always gives me little pieces of advice and tips on what I should look for in certain situations and also on how to be a floor leader. Just being around him allows me to learn so much.
Your team will play the first of two games against Ankeny Centennial on Jan. 23. What do you think will be the key to beating the Jaguars?
Centennial has a very good, all-around team. I think not getting caught up in all the hype and executing our game plan will be important. Defensively, we will have to do a good job on keeping their bigs in check on the inside. Denying penetration will be key, too. Offensively, we can’t force the issue and take bad shots. We will need to be patient and execute while still being aggressive at attacking the hoop.
Would you like to play basketball in college? Have you looked at any schools?
Playing in college is a possibility. It’d be a cool experience to do that. There have been a few small colleges that I have been in contact with. Study-wise, I’m still deciding. I’m pretty decent with math and numbers, and I’m an organized person, so I have thought about some accounting or actuary stuff. Overall, I’m open to a lot of things right now and still deciding.
I understand you’re a Kansas fan. Are you going to the game on Saturday in Ames?
Rock Chalk Jayhawk. I became a Kansas fan when I went to a game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse with my dad. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and I immediately became a fan. I get a lot of ribbing from teammates about it, but they can’t say much when Kansas has won 10 straight Big 12 titles. But yes, I’m going to be at the game in Ames wearing blue.
Who is your favorite NBA player?
I’d have to go with Andrew Wiggins. His athleticism is unreal, and I love his skill set. Plus, he’s a former Jayhawk. I think being up in Minnesota is a good situation for him, and he will learn a lot up there. He has the potential to be really good someday.
Would you like to see a shot clock added to the high school game?
I think it would be a cool thing to add. It would probably affect strategy and play calling in an interesting way. It would also make it more like a college game.