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Published: 12/13/2002

Commons, Mars opposites but work well together

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Chris Commons, left, leads Central Catholic with a 21.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. Norman Mars is averaging 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds. Chris Commons, left, leads Central Catholic with a 21.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. Norman Mars is averaging 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds.
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As far as personality types go, Central Catholic senior basketball players Chris Commons and Norman Mars represent opposite ends of the spectrum.

Commons is quiet, shy and passive. His vocal offerings come sparingly, and he is undemonstrative on and off the court.

Whether the 6-7 post player is feeling low or brimming with joy, spectators would need a heart-rate monitor to detect the difference because it won't show on his face.

“I don't try to hide it,” Commons said, “it's just that the emotion happens inside of me. I keep it in my heart.”

He chooses shots as carefully as his words, and sometimes needs a jump start to get his game on, usually after impassioned pleas from his coaches to assert himself.

On the other hand, Mars owns up to being loud, bold and aggressive. He will talk to anyone who will listen, and wears his emotions on his sleeve. Batteries are not required.

If the 6-6 forward is flying high or sinking low emotionally, everybody in the crowd knows immediately.

“We're totally different players,” Mars says. “I'm more of an excited, `Let's-go' kind of a guy. I show a lot of emotion on the court. Chris has no facial expressions. The first time I saw him smile [in a game] was against Northview.”

That smile was a major outburst for Commons.

“When we were in junior high, I was church-mouse quiet,” Commons says. “I was that little kid that would stay in the corner away from people. [Mars] was always outgoing and willing to walk down the hallways and talk to anybody.”

As big as Mars is on free speech, he also never needed an invitation to shoot the ball. It is a liberty held in check by Central coach Mike Padgett, who reminds Mars that he has four teammates on the court.

“Sometimes Norm shoots too fast and sometimes he tries to create too much on his own,” Padgett says. “We try to get him to slow down a little. But that's his personality. He's very outgoing and he likes to have fun.

“Chris is somebody that we've had to prod a little bit to get him moving and playing hard. We're trying to get him to be more aggressive. Chris keeps a lot of things inside. You have to draw it out of him. Norm lets it all out, good or bad.”

Regardless of their personality differences, these longtime friends and former McTigue Junior High teammates have found level ground together on the court this season.

Commons leads the Irish (4-0, 1-0 CL) in scoring at 21.3 points per game on 32-of-45 shooting (71 percent) from the field and 18-of-25 (72 percent) from the line. He also tops Central in rebounding at 6.8.

Mars has complemented his silent partner's efforts with averages of 11.8 points and 6.5 boards, each second on the team. He is 19-of-45 from the field (42 percent).

The pair will lead Central into a key City League home test tonight against Scott (1-1, 1-0) at the Sullivan Center. The Bulldogs have won six straight times over the Irish, including three meetings last season.

While he doesn't talk much, Commons is a good listener.

“Over the years I've heard so much talk about how I wasn't aggressive enough and how I was soft for a big man,” Commons says. “That's lit a fire in me. It's motivated me to work harder. I'm starting to become a little more aggressive and show a little emotion.”

Padgett said he built this year's team around the inside talents of Commons and Mars, said he is pleased so far with their output, and sees each player as a work in progress.

“If you took Chris' size and shot and combined it with the way Norm likes to move, we'd have a great player between them,” Padgett says. “But they're still both going to be very good players before this year is over. They're really starting to complement each other and work well together.”

Personalities aside, Mars and Commons are on the same page when it comes to basketball.

“It works well because I know how to talk to C.C.,” Mars says. “It seems like I've known him forever. There's a certain way to tell him something where he won't get down on himself.”

The two met playing against each other in fifth grade.

“We have a rhythm together on the court,” Commons says. “I see things he's about to do and I get him the ball in the right spot.”



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