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2008/09 Season Outlook

Posted Tuesday, December 09, 2008 by Brian Cook Sports editor

With a team full of new faces, Koscielniak takes reins from local legend


SALAMANCA �” It’s role reversal time for the Warriors. Rookie basketball coach Brian Koscielniak, called up from the JV squad, takes over for departed varsity coach Pete Weishan in the 2008-2009 season. Weishan, meanwhile, comes out of a brief retirement after 33 years on the bench to guide the jayvees.

Koscielniak will be at the helm of a team that, on paper, represents a drastic departure from the 2007-2008 squad that reached the Class C semifinals in Weishan’s final varsity game. Gone are all five senior starters and then some. That group included scoring machines Derek LeBlanc and Jack O’Rourke. Also graduated are inside enforcers Mike Riethmiller and Riley McFarland, along with outside threat Nate Hinman. Taking their places are six untested and as yet, unproven sophomores and a freshman, with just one senior, Jae Weakfall, slated as a potential starter.

The only player returning with any varsity court time is junior Christian Reiller, a burner who will see action at point guard in 2008 after spelling O’Rourke for much of the ‘07 campaign. Reiller proved himself an adept ball handler and scorer as a backup, but will now be thrust into a starting role.

One reversal this year may prove beneficial, however. Last year’s distinct lack of height was a hindrance against the likes of Maple Grove and Randolph. That fault has given way to 6-foot-6 sophomore forward/center Matt Deboy. He will join sophomore shooting guard Thomas Williams �” a slasher who can drive the lane, the senior leader Weakfall, and frosh Jackson John as four starters who have known nothing but JV action thus far.

Sophomores Wayne Maybee (SG), Caleb Bess, Nick Hoard, and Jared Jacobs round out the roster along with junior Othayonih (Ty) Printup and first-year senior Luke Shongo.

“They want to prove to themselves they can put up with the big boys,” said Koscielniak. Coach Koscielniak, however, is holding perhaps only himself up to that standard.

 

 

“(It’s) game-by-game improvement, not win-loss. Can we play defense for a whole 32 minutes? Working hard through the whole game.” That’s the real test for Coach K’s kids.

Koscielniak, a four-year player at Cheektowaga High School, said he wants to keep it simple �” the KISS method.

“(We have) new guys to the varsity,” he explained. “Ten or 11 athletes, not basketball players.” These “athletes” will have their work cut out for them with the new league alignment. Randolph and Portville Koscielniak expect to be tough, but Cassadaga Valley is a team that gave the 2007 squad a real test and figures to do the same with a lot of youth on the roster.

One major change is the absence of Maple Grove. The Red Dragons dismantled Salamanca in 2007, but are missing from this year’s slate.

Koscielniak admitted he’s nervous with such a young team, to say nothing about taking over for Weishan.

The rookie will face a tall task in game one, a home matchup with Allegany-Limestone on Dec. 8, before heading into the annual Tip-Off Tournament Dec. 11 through 13. The annual invitational will feature some winnable games with Walsh, Gowanda, and Cattaraugus-Little Valley on the schedule. The Red and Gray won the tourney last year.

With a steep learning curve, Koscielniak already has a leg-up on other first year coaches thanks to studying under one of the league’s best...

Who will still be beside him on the bench.

 

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