'Hawks hope their big man gives it a go - The Explorer: Sports

'Hawks hope their big man gives it a go

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:13 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Jan Maehlen is proof positive good things do come in tall packages.

How good? Well, that will be up to Maehlen, a 7-foot, 300-plus-pound mass of a high school basketball player.

And how good Ironwood Ridge is this year in the state tournament might be up to Maehlen's availability. He's still recovering from a badly sprained ankle and it's still 50-50 if he'll be cleared to play in the Nighthawks' opener against Fairfax in the 5A DII state tournament. Ironwood Ridge enters the tournament 21-7 overall and the No. 2 seed.

"If he plays, he will be about 75 percent,” head coach Brian Peabody said.

It's a percentage Peabody will take, given the team's need for its man in the middle.

"Upside" and "potential" are words being thrown around these days for the Ironwood Ridge center, who has the Nighthawks poised for another potential deep run in the state tournament.

"Hopefully,” Maehlen said, speaking of potential, "it's unlimited.”

He can't wait to head down that road, one already started many moons ago when he was 6-foot-2 and in junior high. Basketball was almost a requisite being that tall at such an age.

First, he made a misguided attempt to play football when he and his family arrived in Indianapolis nine years ago. But then a friend told him basketball was his future … after all, he was tall.

"I didn't even know what basketball was until I moved to the states,” he said. "I didn't even watch the sport.”

Then he spotted Shaquille O'Neal and countryman Dirk Nowitzki, and the love affair began.

Now, there is work to be done. Get better. Get slimmer. And, unfortunately, get healthy after he hurt the ankle two weeks ago in practice. It came just hours after he scored 29 points in a losing effort against Tucson High.

"We haven't played one game this season with all of our pieces,” Peabody said. "It's been really, really hard. This has probably been the most difficult season we've had.”

And still, Ironwood Ridge is one of the favorites for a title. It helped that guard Lawrence Hampton returned from an academic suspension. And Matt Walter, the team's leading scorer (16 points, 10 rebounds) returned after suffering his own ankle injury.

Still, Maehlen is the team's cornerstone. Figure that the big, burly 7-footer "is the smartest player on the team.” In basketball parlance, he has good basketball IQ. He's averaging 15 points and eight rebounds a game.

"He anchors our defense and tells players where to go,” Peabody said.

It's usually a point guard that does the instructing and is the extension of the coach on the court. Instead, it's Maehlen, who is headed to Pepperdine next year to play for Tom Asbury, a former Tucsonan.

"It just came to me,” Maehlen said of his strong basketball sense. "I love the game. I just understand it.”

Understanding it is one thing, playing it is another. And Maehlen admitted the last few months have been an amazing process. He moved from Indianapolis, where he was a junior varsity player, going from bit player to center of attention.

"It's a big change,” he said. "I've gotten better every year, but I've made a lot of progress here.”

When he arrived, he hooked up with former University of Arizona big man Joseph Blair, who worked out with him a few times.

"He's got great size and that can't be taught,” Blair said. "He's a decent jump shooter and very mobile for his size. He's a hard worker and eager to learn. He's capable of having good foot work. But he still needs a lot of work.”

Everyone involved knows that – include Maehlen. Peabody says Maehlen is pretty good at getting up and down the court but has trouble moving laterally. But once he gets in shape – perhaps playing at a more fit 280 pounds – he'll be able to be better at that.

"The only thing holding him back is him,” Peabody said. "He can be a really good player. He just needs to get in better shape but he's come a long way. Our bench is not very deep so he logs a lot of minutes. … (his desire) comes and goes but it's there. He's shown that with us. The success that he's had has kind of motivated him. We've just scratched the surface with him.”


© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...

HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

MOS: Halloween

We asked the community about Halloween!

MOS: Ebola Virus

We asked the community about the Ebola Virus.

More Featured Videos

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...


Follow us on Facebook