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Deerfield’s Alfieri draws inspiration from past

01/15/2013, 5:30pm CST
By Dan Shalin

Deerfield junior Michael Alfieri’s old-school game has proven effective this season. The 6-4 forward posted a season-high 21 points last week against Loyola.

Gurnee Saturday, 1/12/13 Deerfield's Michael Alfieri (34) goes up after a rebound during the third quarter of Saturday's game at Warren. Warren won the game, 66-30. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

Deerfield junior forward Michael Alfieri was born in the 1990s and wears his hair like it’s the 1970s.

But his game comes right out of the 1980s.

A post player with a number of crafty moves around the basket, the 6-foot-4 junior said his style was influenced by the Larry Bird-era Boston Celtics.

“Growing up, my dad taught me everything (about basketball) and he had me watch tapes of Bird and (Kevin) McHale, and that’s where I learned to play with my back to the basket,” Alfieri said. “When I came (to Deerfield) I started developing my outside shot.”

Now in his second year on Deerfield’s varsity, Alfieri’s game appears to have been kicked up a notch in recent weeks. He had a game-high 21 points in a 54-51 overtime loss to Loyola on the final day of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic on Dec. 29. He then scored 18, tying for game-high honors, in a 67-55 loss to Niles North on Jan. 11.

“As the season has gone on, he has been better and better and better,” Deerfield’s first-year coach Dan McKendrick said. “He’s maturing and differentiating his game. He used to be almost exclusively a back-to-the-basket player. He’s starting to learn how to face up. He can hit the jump shot, and his confidence has grown. He’s trending in a positive direction.”

Alfieri started on varsity last season and is currently the team’s second-leading scorer behind junior sharpshooter Eric Porter. The forward said his confidence continues to soar because the coaching staff has shown confidence in him.

Alfieri said he’s particularly pleased to be playing for McKendrick, who coached a then-freshman Alfieri on the sophomore team during the 2010-11 season.

“I love Coach McKendrick,” Alfieri said. “He was the first coach I had when I came here. I’m most trusting of him. He knows what to do.”

Porter said Alfieri’s improved play down low has helped to create open looks for the rest of the Warriors.

“(Alfieri) has been rolling lately, so we want to keep giving him the ball,” Porter said. “If he’s on, we’ll just keep going to him. Once they start doubling and tripling him, then he’ll kick it out and maybe that will open up the perimeter game. If he’s on, that opens up everything on the floor.” ~.

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