Guarded optimism, North has faith in first-year starter

Among the many questions for the Columbus North boys basketball team is a real zinger.

Can a kid who played mostly junior varsity a year ago as a junior provide the leadership the team needs at point guard to compete with the state’s top teams?

“It is a big responsibility,” said Vince Grana, who is starting at point for the No. 6-ranked Bull Dogs. “It can be a little bit overwhelming, and

I’m a little nervous. I understand there is a lot

of pressure.

“But I place a lot of trust in my teammates. We mostly have returning starters.”

Among the returning starters is senior forward Josh Speidel, who has committed to Vermont. Speidel is confident that Grana can be a team leader even if he couldn’t crack the lineup last year when North went 20-6.

Are his leadership skills that good?

“Vince is the student body president,” Speidel said. “I voted for him.

“He’s been working hard (on the basketball court), and I think it will show.”

North coach Jason Speer said Grana’s work already has shown up.

“Vince is a great game manager,” Speer said. “He is not going to be Peyton Manning, who is going to win or lose the game.”

In the season-opening 73-47 win against Hauser on Saturday, Grana had two points, one rebound and one assist. His numbers won’t be overwhelming as he has players such as Speidel and Trent Larson to provide

the offense.

But he handles the very important responsibility of getting the ball down the court and then getting the Bull Dogs into the flow of their offense along with defending the other team’s point guard.

“At every level of basketball, it’s important to be able to defend every position,” Speer said. “But if you can’t defend the other team’s floor general, it puts you back on your heels. We definitely work on that skill set.”

Speer said Grana has the speed and intelligence to excel at the very important responsibility.

“Coach Speer tells me, ‘You are running the show,’” Grana said. “Coach has been emphasizing that it should be nothing flashy. I just need to know where to get the ball at the right time. I need to be the floor general.”

It helps Grana that he’s been friends with most of the players on the roster since elementary school.

“We’ve been best friends since we were in fourth grade,” Speidel said. “We know he is going to be good.”

“I played on the same AAU team with Kooper (Glick), Josh (Speidel) and Trent (Larson),” Grana said. “I know they will trust me. We’ve all been friends a

long time.”

Grana didn’t even play AAU basketball last summer because he played soccer. After giving up soccer after his eighth-grade season, Grana decided to play his senior season. He started at the forward position on the powerhouse North squad.

Although that kept him off the basketball court, he said playing soccer helped his overall conditioning, which comes in handy during the basketball season.

He also said he is a different player on the basketball court in other ways.

“I am more confident, definitely,” he said. “I also know I am taking better shots. I feel like I’m faster.”

When North plays some of the toughest teams in the state, Grana knows he won’t be the quickest player on

the court.

“Half the teams are going to have a player who is faster than me (at point guard),” Grana said. “It’s about just being smart. I need to give them the right amount

of space.”

Speer said Grana will be up to the challenge. “Vince is a very intelligent player,” Speer said. “And it makes it easier when an individual can defend and control that position on the floor.”

Grana is smart enough to know another very important factor. If he gets into trouble, he knows he can throw the ball to Speidel.

“You can always count on Josh to make the right move,” he said.

At a glance

Vince Grana

SCHOOL: Columbus North

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Point guard

SIZE: 5-foot-10

DID YOU KNOW?: Grana was a starting forward for Columbus North’s sectional champion soccer team

NEXT UP: Columbus North hosts Shelbyville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.