Stagnant Stags: Rick Zych not sure if his team improved over break, resumes play tonight against St. Thomas Aquinas

Bishop Miege sophomore Josh Early goes up for a dunk in practice on Monday. Early will start today against St. Thomas Aquinas with the absence of senior Francesco Badocchi.
Bishop Miege sophomore Josh Early goes up for a dunk in practice on Monday. Early will start today against St. Thomas Aquinas with the absence of senior Francesco Badocchi.

Winter break is supposed to be a time where teams become better because all they have to focus on is basketball instead of academics.

But Bishop Miege coach Rick Zych isn’t sure his team improved during the two-week break. The Stags have practiced only 28 times since the season began on Nov. 14, and only four times over break.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association forces teams to take five days of practice off during winter break. This year it was Dec. 23-28.

“We can’t get everybody here,” Zych said. “We’ve had guys out of town. I don’t know if we’re any better, honestly, than we were. I think we’ve taken a step back; 28 practices and three games, we get tired of beating up on each other. We just need to get in the rhythm of playing two or three times a week.”

In addition, KSHSAA doesn’t allow teams to play any games. However, schools that are a mile to the east of Miege — in Missouri — have the ability to play in holiday tournaments.

But, that’s a discussion for another time. The Stags will start to play two or three times a week beginning tonight against rival St. Thomas Aquinas, who comes in undefeated like Miege.

The Saints ended the first half of their season with an 80-78 three-overtime thriller against St. James.

Miege will be without leading scorer Francesco Badocchi, who is averaging 15.7 points per game. Zych said Badocchi, whose family lives in Italy, is still there as he deals with illness.

Sophomore Josh Early will get the start in Badocchi’s place with Joe Pedrotti and Joe Gleason seeing time as well.

Those three won’t be Badocchi, but Zych hopes they can help fill the void. Zych said they need to stay within their game. He added they’d start on a lot of teams in the metro.

“I’m going to do the best I can do,” Early said. “I’m going to do what my abilities allow me to do.”

This is the first of two matchups between the Stags and the Saints and this one won’t count toward the Eastern Kansas League Standings, which means the game at Aquinas counts.

“We don’t control that, the athletic directors do,” Zych said. “We go over 20 days without a home game in late January and early February. We have to take advantage of our home games.

“It’s fun to play at home, but the really good teams win on the road and we’ve taken pride in that.”