Crane Tech defeated Peoria Central 51-49 Saturday as Crandall Head scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. The younger brother of former Illinois star Luther Head, Crandall looked disinterested at times but still showed off his immense skills. Whenever his team needed a big play, whether it was a bucket, a rebound or blocked shot, Head came through.
Peoria Central is playing without D. J. Richardson. The star guard and Illini signee transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada to get his academics in order. Head knew he wouldn't be there.
"Yeah, we knew he was going out there. He called me this morning to wish me good luck. We kind of played down to the competition. We should have come out and played harder. Maybe when we play some tougher games, we'll come out and play harder."
Crane Tech coach Tim Anderson felt his team would have played a more inspired game if Richardson had been there.
"We played down to the competition, so we'll have to meet and have a good old-fashioned dog practice. Central didn't do anything, it was kind of a mental thing with guys who play any type of sport. When you play Central and don't see D. J. there, 'Oh, we can beat those guys.' So we were lackadasical and didn't compete. I'm trying to get into the guys' heads to compete all the time and just execute."
Crandall is working to improve his game and gain strength.
"My shot didn't go down today, but I've been working on all parts of my game, my dribbling, ball-handling and all that. I've gained about 10 pounds. I've been in the weight room a little bit. I feel a little stronger."
According to his coach, Head understates how hard he is working.
"The thing with Crandall is, for the record I have a great time coaching this kid. He calls me at 5:30 in the morning to shoot. The school doesn't open until 6:00am, so I have to put him off sometimes. He wants to get in the gym and lift. He's actually gained 17 pounds because we have a weight lifting program he's very involved in."
Head began the game with tape on his left wrist, the product of a hard fall in the Farragut game recently. But he discarded it soon afterward. He also decided to lay in one breakaway rather than show off his great leaping ability.
"I was kind of tired. It was a big floor."
The young prodigy had one obvious flaw to his game against Central. He was guilty of 10 turnovers. Many were the result of wanting to make a spectacular play. It is something he needs to improve upon according to his coach.
"He's just got to make better decisions all the time," Anderson admits. "And then be patient and let things develop. He's a great kid, I love him. He's too good sometimes. He needs to go home instead of trying to be in the gym. He's trying to get better."
Crandall transferred from Rich South prior to this school year to return to his Chicago roots. He is glad he made that decision.
"Yeah, I love it. I'm glad I decided to go there, the coaching and all that."
He also loves the prospect of playing for Illinois in a couple years. He took particular interest in the other Illini commitments who played Saturday.
"It's very exciting. I'm enjoying watching the other guys play."
Anderson is happy with Crandall's early commitment, but he wants him to take his high school ball seriously also.
"He's always talking about coming down here with these guys and get to the next level. I say, 'Crandall, you've got to win at Crane first though.'"