By Steve Robinson | November 1, 2007 - 10:26 am
Posted in Category: Pekin Daily Times, Peoria Kings

BasketballPEORIA – The Peoria Kings of the American Basketball Association are working with a new vision as they prepare to open their second year later this month.

That vision is being driven by a new head coach, as Steve Turner, who has coached for 23 years at places like Illinois Central College, Woodruff High School and Peoria Notre Dame High School, becomes the Kings’ second head coach in as many seasons, succeeding Sergio McClain, who moved on for other opportunities in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Turner, understandably, wants to improve upon last season’s 17-18 record which put the Kings in third place in their division just out of reach of the playoffs.

“We have a vision which includes teamwork, family, character, discipline, hard work, and dedication,” Turner said during the team’s media day at the RiverPlex on Thursday.

“We’re going to be a family and we’re here with one thing in mind: To win the ABA championship,” Turner said.

He said he wants to see his team play a “fast-breaking, up-tempo game.”

And judging from a couple of names on the roster, Turner and Kings fans will not be disappointed.

“Steve is just a real solid guy,” said Kings General Manager Mike Van Antwerp of his new coach. “He coached AAU basketball for a number of years. He’s very solid. Very professional. He gets a lot done in a short period of time.”

Peoria KingsTarpley, Robinson On Roster: Pekin Community High fans will remember and enjoy seeing Chris Tarpley, one of three players on the roster who tops out at 6 foot-7.

Tarpley will be nearly eye-to-eye with Calvin O’Neal, a product of Peoria Richwoods High School and Lakeland College, who at 6 foot-9 is the tallest man on the RiverPlex hardwood

“I’ll be going after rebounds…I’m always looking to make everybody else (on the team) better,” Tarpley said. Understandably, Tarpley wants to show the pros why he was named both Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player as he closed out his college career at Eureka College last season.

He will be joined by one of Peoria sports’ more household names in former Bradley University standout Marcello Robinson.

“I’m excited to be able to play in Peoria around some of the fans I played (in front of) at Bradley, and to try to help this team in any way possible,” Robinson said.

Todd Peterson, another PCHS alum who went on to Northern Illinois University, played with Peoria last season until a broken foot sidelined him toward the end of the season. He is currently rehabbing to come back from that injury.

Van Antwerp said Peterson is expected to join the team sometime after the first of the year.

ABADivision Alignment: ABA is divided into three divisions, labeled Red, White, and Blue. The Kings are members of the league’s White Division. They are joined by the Chicago Throwbacks, Detroit Panthers, Anderson (Ind.) Champions, Rochester (Minn.) Fire, St. Louis Stunners, and Cometas de Cicero, a Cicero, Ill.-based team.

Chicago, St. Louis, and Cicero are the closest geographic rivals the Kings will have this year. Former ABA member Quad City Riverhawks, based in Moline, jumped to another one of basketball’s minor leagues, the Premier Basketball League, at the conclusion of last season.

“We’re going to miss the Quad City rivalry,” Van Antwerp said. “The longer (road) trips will be tough. The league knows it’ll be tougher.”

The Kings will spend ABA’s opening weekend on the road, beginning with a game against the Anderson (Ind.) Champions on Thursday, Nov. 15, followed by a visit to the Detroit Panthers’ home court.

The Kings will play their first home game at the RiverPlex on Friday, Nov. 23, hosting the Chicago Throwbacks. Tip-off for that game is 7:15p.m.

Rim Shots: The ABA’s current league champions are the Vermont Frost Heaves, based in Cornwall, Vermont…The ABA has a television contract with Colours TV, a Denver-based cable programming outlet which specializes in multicultural programming.