.@BirthplaceBBall is set to play in a four-team invitational in Chicago over the weekend. Freshman Elijah Moreno-Winston looks forward to homecoming. @GageNutter_ has the story.
By Gage Nutter Pride men’s basketball is slated to play in the Midway Classic in Chicago, Illinois this weekend. The team is scheduled to take on Ohio Wesleyan in the first game on Saturday. If the team advances to the finals of the four-team tournament, they will take on either the University of Chicago or Claremont Mudd Scripps. The idea of playing in Chicago came about two years ago when Pride head coach Charlie Brock and University of Chicago head coach, and also good friend, Mike McGrath, got together and formulated the plan. In addition to the team’s arduous out-of-conference schedule the last few years, the program’s bi-annual trip has consistently been a time for the team to test itself against new competition and discover things that they can work on. “We are way more concerned with us at this point than we are with anyone we are playing against,” said head coach Charlie Brock on the trip. “We are just trying to get better at things. If we see weaknesses that arise, we will take care of them at practice and throughout games. Going up against high level national competition is a good thing. We have to function with very little previous information, and that’s fine.” Basketball activities aside, Brock is also looking forward to the number of things the team will do together off the court during the trip. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t do it otherwise,” said Brock when asked if the team planned on exploring Chicago and the surrounding area. “There is an Amos Alonzo Stagg museum at the University of Chicago we will visit. We will probably do something on Friday after practice as well. If I can find anything that has to do with history, I force them to pay attention.” The trip to Chicago will mark the first time most members of the team step foot into Illinois — except for freshman Elijah Moreno-Winston. Moreno-Winston is a native of Oswego, Illinois — a suburban town that sits a little over an hour from Downtown Chicago. A large group of his family members, friends and former coaches are expected to be in attendance for the games. With so many people coming out to support the maroon and white, Moreno-Winston hopes to give the team’s two games more of a home game feel. “I’m trying to bring the whole city out,” said Moreno-Winston. “We haven’t had a home game yet, so I kinda want to bring a home game environment to my teammates so they can feel that support — just try and make our games home games. It’ll be really cool to do that.” With such intimate knowledge of the city, Moreno-Winston hopes that he can show the team some of his favorite places in Chicago. One of his favorite places is the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears tower. The tower houses a sky deck that is made of see through plexiglass that people can stand in to get an amazing, and terrifying, view of the city. “I did that as a kid and this last summer,” said Moreno-Winston. “Standing up there is crazy.” In addition, he hopes that the team can go to a well-known tourist destination, ‘The Bean’ in Millennium Park. If the team ahs time, he hopes the team can visit Michigan Ave., which houses a lot of premium outlet stores. With snow falling recently in the area, and the area being known as the Windy City, Moreno-Winston acknowledges trekking through the city will be a challenge, but it’ll be worth it. “Walking around Chicago is going to be tough, but if we want to see the city that’s the way to do it,” he said. He and the team are also looking forward to the bonding time that comes with being in a hotel and on a plane for hours at a time. “There is going to be a lot of iMessage games happening on the bus rides and in the airport,” he said. “I know Deonte (Sandifer) has been having seven-game series with Cam (Earle) and Daryl (Costa). I know they’re definitely lining that up. There will be a lot of that. “I plan on taking a nap.” Photo courtesy of Helen Lucas