Day brings scoring load for WildcatsJanuary 8, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Things haven’t always been easy for Jasper basketball this season. The Wildcats have a 1-4 record and the team was out for two weeks due to Jasper High School shutting down athletics, but junior Isaac Day has established himself as a bastion of consistency to this point of the season.
Day has scored in double figures in all five of the games the team has played so far, and he’s led the team in scoring in four out of the five games they’ve played. He got some varsity minutes last year and worked his way into the starting lineup this year.
If there was any rust to be had Tuesday night when the Wildcats returned to the floor, Day didn’t show it. Rather, he tied for a game-high 15 points in his team’s 79-60 loss to Evansville Reitz, and currently sits at an average of 14.8 points per game.
“We pushed the pace really well,” Day said Wednesday after his most recent game. “I like to get out in transition. I think most of those points were off those transition layups, and just running the floor really well — that’s what we’re going to do well this year.”
Day sees the biggest difference from a year ago until now being that he’s more confident with the ball. He told the Herald that he passed up a lot of shots when he played in junior varsity that he’s taking now in varsity games, and that it’s helping out a lot. Day noted that his teammates believe in him, and the whole team is working hard in practice. He’s getting open shots that he has high confidence in.
Opposing defenses are trying to slow him down, but he’s still getting his buckets.
“They’re doing a good job pressuring the ball,” he said. “They like to force me left — I’m a right-handed guy. So, (I’m) working on my left hand in practice every day and on my own, trying to get better at that — being able to attack left just as good as my right. That’s going to help me out later on.”
Wildcats coach John Goebel noted that Day is a good athlete, is intelligent and has a good basketball IQ. He described Day as having “playground sense.”
“You watch him on the football field or on the basketball floor, he does some things that you don’t have to teach,” Goebel said. “He knows when to cut, he knows when to pass. He’s a terrific defender because he has good lateral speed and quickness and strength. He works hard in the weight room, he’s in good shape. He just brings a lot to the table as far as being a gifted athlete and an intelligent competitor.”
Goebel believes that Day takes what the game presents him. He added that they’re not drawing plays up for him, but his quickness makes him difficult to guard, and fakes well. His quickness gets him around his defenders, and he gets to the paint — creating shots to get to the foul line, but he’ll knock shots down from the perimeter, too.
While Goebel said Day doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands in a clutch situation — the team wouldn’t mind him doing so.
It’s many of the aforementioned features Day has that has led to his consistency, Goebel said.
“A lot of it just comes down to he is talented, he does have skill,” he said. “He’s one of those kids — you would love to be able to mix and match. If you could put him into a 6’7 frame, we’d be talking to IU and Purdue. He’s that kind of a player. He just doesn’t have that physique — he’s not got that height, and that’s his only drawback. But he plays bigger than he is, there’s no doubt about that.”
Day believes he has to be a better leader to try to get his team back in the win column. He noted the team has to have less turnovers and more mental toughness. Jasper’s only victory came Dec. 11 at Evansville Memorial, 54-46. He thought the Wildcats executed well and displayed that kind of mental toughness against the Tigers.
He’ll try to do his part Saturday when the Wildcats welcome Evansville North, and Goebel is expecting more of the same from Day.
“He’s got to handle the basketball, he’s got to shoot the ball well for us, he’s got to be one of our best defenders and he needs to be a leader on the floor,” Goebel said. “Isaac Day produces. Some players do the best that they can, but there are some players that, they’ll give you some time and they don’t do a lot to hurt you. Isaac does a lot to help you.”
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