WHEELING, W.Va. —
That should come as a relief to the Wolverines, who underperformed in a game televised on an ESPN network for the second time this season Saturday, when Montverde (Fla.) ran away with an 82-53 victory. In their second game of the season in December, Simeon, then ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN, lost to DeSoto of Texas on TV.
"When the lights get bright … we've got to be ready to go play," Simeon coach Robert Smith said. "It's the atmosphere, but those guys are going to play high-major Division I basketball, so they have to be ready for this.
"Jabari (Parker) was ready for the limelight like that, and that was proven (Saturday night). … Kendrick (Nunn) and Jaylon (Tate), they just have to get ready for it."
Parker was markedly improved from his first TV appearance, totaling 17 points and 13 rebounds. He wasn't ready to blame the loss on the pressure or atmosphere of the Cancer Research Classic game, which drew a standing-room-only crowd to Wheeling Jesuit University.
"(The televised games) don't necessarily hurt us. We just aren't prepared," Parker said. "It comes from way back in practice. We didn't come prepared for the game, and it showed."
Simeon plays in showcases the next two weekends, including another high-profiled game against Oak Hill at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Jan. 21.
Staging a comeback: Parker struggled early this season when returning from a fractured right foot, so he could empathize with Nunn and Tate, whom Smith criticized for not playing to their abilities Saturday.
"Staying positive," Parker said of the best way to help. "The worst thing to do is telling them everything is going wrong and blaming them. Just going in there, giving them confidence and talking them through it so they can build on it."
More minutes: Sophomore forward Edward Morrow and junior guard Donte Ingram have emerged as two of the first players off the bench to replace the all-senior starting five, and both were needed Saturday as Kendall Pollard and Russell Woods got into foul trouble.
Morrow had 10 points, three rebounds and three blocks in 11 minutes. Ingram added two points and two rebounds but missed all three 3-point attempts in 13 minutes Saturday.