Topeka West might be 0-13 this season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a scary team.
At least that’s how Manhattan High boys’ basketball coach Tim Brooks is looking at the Chargers as they come to town on Friday to open up a stretch of five games in eight days.
Picture what Iowa State’s Royce White did against Kansas State on Tuesday. He might be 6-foot-8, but the Cyclones offense is run through him, the best player on their roster.
For Topeka West, that player is Emeka Okoronkwo. He might be best remembered for his first-quarter performance against Manhattan in football this year, but as one of the Chargers tallest and the most athletic of the players on the floor, he controls what the offense does.
Brooks said he draws comparisons to Iowa State’s style of play when he watches film on the Chargers.
“It reminds me a lot of Royce White at Iowa State and how they ran their offense through him against K-State,” he said. “He brought it up and either took it or got someone else open for the shot. It’s a different level, but that’s what it’s like.”
The Indians (5-6) will be looking to slow down Okoronkwo and Topeka West’s fastbreak-happy offense on Friday in a homecoming matchup.
Brooks said he has seen them run and gun on the court throughout the season, but they still have the potential element of surprise.
“They’ve got guys that can shoot it and you really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “They could come back and try to be slow against us like they were a year ago, or they could continue to be Helter Skelter and pressure all over the place and run and shoot quick.
“We have to prepare for both, and it’s a scary game because they’ve been playing people tough.”
As for slowing down the leader of their offense in Okoronkwo, Brooks said he thinks they have a good solution for it.
“I think we’ve got the perfect guy to stop that,” he said. “Deante has been doing it all year, guarding a variety of positions.”
As a team, however, he said they will have to be more sound offensively, and avoid turnovers.
“We are going to have to be really good in our transition defense, and it will help if we don’t turn the ball over,” he said. “We’re just going to have to mix things up and maybe play some zone, but we will have to match up man because that’s what we are best at.”
The Indians enter the game as losers of their last four games and are looking to turn their season forward.
Friday’s game will be one of the Indians’ final three home games as they are entering the final nine regular season games leading to sub-state.