Milan hoping to finally face challenge in Monroe St. Mary's matchup, plus Friday's basketball schedule
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
It’s a problem most coaches would love to have, but for Milan’s Josh Tropea, it’s still a problem:
His team wins by too much.
The Big Reds are 9-1 on the year and 5-0 in the Huron League. Their average margin of victory has been more than 30 points in league play, and their league winning streak currently stands at 18 games.
“My starters don’t even play more than 16 minutes,” Tropea said. “I think it’s hurt us in district play the last two years, and I’m incredibly afraid that’s going to hurt us this year.
“It’s one of the reasons that I long for the days of Milan being in the SEC.”
Milan was a member of the Southeastern Conference for 33 years before re-joining the Huron League in the fall of 2000.
Milan's lack of competition against league opponents figures to change Friday night when it hosts Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central. SMCC is 10-0 and receiving votes in the most recent Associated Press prep basketball poll. It’s five Huron League wins have come by an average of 29.8 points.
“It’s really going to be the first test we’ve had since Dec. 21,” Tropea said, referencing the Big Reds’ only loss, to Springfield (Ohio). “We need that right now, we need that really bad.”
Friday’s game will be one of two matchups this year; the two teams will meet again Feb. 19 in Monroe.
Milan is 4-2 against SMCC in the last three years. Four of those games, Tropea said, have come down to the final possession.
For Milan, the game couldn’t come at a better time. On Tuesday, it went into a matchup with a 6-3 Grosse Ile team expecting to face a challenge. It didn’t turn out that way.
“We thought it was going to be a good opportunity to be tested, and it’s 53-9 in the second quarter,” Tropea said. “What are you going to do?”
The Big Red starters played three minutes of the second half, hardly an uncommon occurence. League play mismatches mean the Milan starters rarely see the floor in the fourth quarter.
Tropea’s answer is to run intense practices that simulate tough games.
“The only way we’re ever going to get better is in practice,” Tropea said.
Forward C.J. Turnage and guard Latin Davis have still managed to put up big numbers for the Big Reds, despite the limited minutes. Turnage is averaging 17.7 points per game while Davis averages 14.3.
And as if they weren’t enough, the Big Reds got another boost this week. Sophomore forward Nick Perkins, who transferred from Huron, became eligible Tuesday after sitting out the first half of the season.
He finished 1-for-7 from the field with three points in his first appearance off the bench -- he had plenty of jitters in his first game, Tropea said. But Tropea sees him as a future Division I player who can contribute this year.
“I don’t see us winning a district title without Nick playing a key role, and I really think the next two years you’re going to see him among the elite players in the state,” Tropea said.
Friday Night Basketball Schedule
Addison at Manchester, 7 p.m.
Calvary Christian at Warren Macomb Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Detroit U-D Jesuit at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 7:30 p.m.
Greenhills at Novi Franklin Road Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Lincoln at Chelsea, 7 p.m.
Monroe at Saline, 7 p.m.
Monroe Meadow Montessori at Washtenaw Christian, 7 p.m.
Monroe St Mary Catholic Central at Milan, 7 p.m.
Ottawa Lake-Whiteford at Whitmore Lake, 7 p.m.
Pioneer at Temperance Bedford, 7 p.m.
Rudolf Steiner at Lansing New Covenant Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Skyline at Huron, 7 p.m.
Taylor Trillium Academy at Willow Run, 7 p.m.
Tecumseh at Dexter, 7 p.m.
Ypsilanti at Adrian, 7 p.m.
Adrian at Ypsilanti, 7 p.m.
Chelsea at Lincoln, 7 p.m.
Dexter at Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Gabriel Richard at Bloomfield Hills Marian, 7:30 p.m.
Greenhills at Novi Franklin Road Christian, 6 p.m.
Monroe Meadow Montessori at Washtenaw Christian, 5:30 p.m.
Ottawa Lake-Whiteford at Whitmore Lake, 5:30 p.m.
Rudolf Steiner at Lansing New Covenant, 6 p.m.
Saline at Monroe, 7 p.m.
Skyline at Huron, 5:30 p.m.
Temperance Bedford at Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Willow Run at Melvindale ABT, 5:30 p.m.