Tough going for rebuilding Cobras
November 23, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — It’s been a hard fall for E.J. King’s boys and girls basketball teams.
A year after the boys lost in the Far East Class A championship game and the girls finished fourth, all key components from those teams have either graduated or transferred. After Friday’s lopsided losses at Nile C. Kinnick, the Cobras teams fell to a collective 0-6 this season.
"Now, we go down to no returners at all. And no seniors. It’s a big step [down]," girls second-year coach Michael Seitz said of a team comprising three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.
That’s a far cry from last year’s team that went 19-7 with the help of sister guards Kristia and Rizalina Suriben and sister forwards Samantha and Nicole Bossert. Seitz’s only experienced player, sophomore Amber Seard, transfers this week.
"Those three letters you hate to hear: P-C-S," Seitz said of Seard. Rizalina Suriben transferred to the States, Nicole Bossert to Kubasaki of Okinawa.
The Cobras boys team said farewell to a starting unit of Fernando Rico, Blake Romero, Dominique Johnson, Keith Williams and Marquis Singletary, which had been together since they were freshmen.
"I had them all in (physical education) class," new coach Mike Milling said. "They were a good group of kids. But it’s my reign now."
Milling faces a daunting task. Only seniors Jon-Jon Greene and Thomas Clayton remain from a unit that went 25-8 and lost 66-46 to Yongsan International-Seoul in last February’s Class A final at Daegu, South Korea.
Kinnick’s boys and girls got off to flying starts at the Cobras’ expense. The Red Devils girls held E.J. King scoreless the first 3:57 and scored the first nine points, and blanked the Cobras 22-0 in the final quarter of a 56-14 triumph.
E.J. King’s boys fared no better. They went scoreless the first 9:12, falling behind 17-0 in a 54-27 loss at Yokosuka’s Fleet Gym.
The Cobras could be on thier way to their worst season in nearly 20 years. Since 1990, E.J. King has won five Class A tournament titles and put six tournament MVPs on the court.
So, what’s a coach to do when faced with molding a young squad into some semblance of a winner?
"You go back to the beginning. Teach the basics," Seitz said.
Most certainly, the Cobras’ two teams won’t be running and gunning as much as they did with Suribens and the boys’ Fab Five in the lineup.
"This year, we’re more defensive, have to keep (opponents) from scoring," Milling said. "You have to see what talent you have and change your philosophy to fit it."
Friday’s games began three-game weekend road trips for the Cobras, who played against Yokohama International and Yokota at Yokota High School’s Capps Gym on Saturday.