By Eric Harvey
Magazine and Opinion Editor
"You are too small of a man. You can't stop me," Areeb Sidahmed whispered to his opponent as he dribbled up the court.
Areeb was playing in a Varsity Basketball game early last season against Del-Val. It was only the beginning of the third quarter, and Areeb already had three blocks on the opponent he was guarding.
“Dribbling down the court, I see that they did not switch the defender — he was still guarding me. So I started to trash talk him... and challenge him to stop me,” Areeb recalled recently.
“I told him that I was going to drive straight, stop, and pull up from the free throw line, and then he thought I was driving straight to the basket because I was doing that to him all game. He tried to contest the shot last-second, but he was too late and I already had made the basket.
“I then specifically said something along the lines of, ‘You better step it up or you will be benched the rest of the game.’"
For Areeb, trash talking in the heat of competition is something he excels at. In fact, when asked what his favorite part of playing basketball is, Areeb said, “The trash talking because I like getting into the opponent’s head and getting them mad.”
BASKETBALL 4 HOURS EVERY DAY
Basketball is the only sport Areeb participates in, and he puts a lot of time into it, playing every day after school and all day on weekends. “I play basketball four hours a day,” Areeb said, “and 28 hours a week.”
Areeb has been playing Varsity Basketball at Woodlynde all four years of his high school career, which is a rare feat. When Areeb was a freshman, there were more upperclassmen playing and the competition for a spot on the varsity roster was stiff. So while many underclassmen mainly played JV, Areeb split time between the JV and Varsity teams.
Areeb usually starts at small forward, but says he is capable of playing all five positions. He wants to average at least 24 points per game this season and hit a buzzer beater. He also wants to show Boys’ Varsity Basketball Coach Mr. Tischler and Athletic Director Mr. Purdy he’s better than both of them. But most importantly, he wants to step up and be a better leader for the team.
When asked about Areeb’s progress since they first started working together three years ago, Coach Tischler said, “He has shown tremendous improvement since his first year.”
Coach Tischler then joked, “If he played me one-on-one then, I would beat him 15-0. Now, it might be a little closer.”
He then added, “In all seriousness, he’s gotten a lot stronger, he’s gotten a lot faster, and he seems to understand the game more.”
Listing Areeb’s strengths, Coach Tischler said: “He’s very competitive, he works hard in the paint, gets a lot of rebounds, goes strong to the basket, and he’s a blocking machine.”
As much as Areeb has improved his game, Coach Tischler would like to see Areeb get even better in the following areas: “Staying positive, improving leadership skills, and making everyone else around him better.”
This season, Areeb wants his team to win more than 10 games and to beat Del-Val.
He says his favorite moment in a game was his first career win at Woodlynde. It was a JV game against Del-Val during his freshman year, in which he led the team in scoring.
CAN NOW DUNK
Areeb, who would like to continue playing basketball through college, said his greatest basketball accomplishment so far was making it to the All-Star Game last year.
Areeb, who stands 6’2” tall, is also able to dunk. It didn’t come easily, though. “It took two years of consistently practicing my vertical leap,” he noted.
He said he has dunked in a game before, just not for Woodlynde. “Afterwards, my friends got up out of their seats. I felt like I was on the top of the world for half a second.”