Parkland basketball looking for rhythm

Adam Vilmin

Staff Writer

 

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus  Parkland men’s basketball athletes practice in Donald C. Dodds Jr. Athletic Center on Thursday, Dec.3, 2015.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus
Parkland men’s basketball athletes practice in Donald C. Dodds Jr. Athletic Center on Thursday, Dec.3, 2015.

One month into the season, the 5-4 Cobra Men’s Basketball team is starting to get a clear picture of where their strengths and weaknesses are in time for the break and then the start of M-WAC conference play. Two of the early losses to #7 Cincinnati State and #6 Kirkwood, as well as an overtime loss to Lincoln Trail, are promising signs from the young Cobra squad, but as sophomore shooting guard Austin Howard said, “we don’t do the almost winning thing. We should’ve beat them.”

Coach Anthony Figueroa doesn’t find much solace in the loss either.

“I think early on, we’re not very good,” Figueroa said. “It takes time to build a team up to compete with the kind of nationally ranked teams we saw early on. The guys know the consistency we need and the adjustments that need to happen at this level.”

The Cobras are working through the rawness that is inherent with carrying nine freshmen on the team. Freshman Cornelius McIntosh is one of the newcomers and is beginning to collect more minutes off the bench as the season progresses. The adjustments being made in practice are a big part of the Cobra’s current three game winning streak.

“As the season is going on we’re getting a feel for each other with every practice, every game,” McIntosh said. “The early losses helped us figure out the little mistakes we were making and coach has us working through those. Getting rid of those has been a big part of the winning that’s happening.”

“We have two guys who are familiar with ‘the system’ here at Parkland,” Figueroa said. “Everyone else is new, and a lot of them have never competed in a college game. It’s a different level for them. The commitment to showing up every practice ready to build and get to that consistent level. It’s something that can take some time to get used to.”

Figueroa expects Howard, as a sophomore, to step into the leadership position, and Figueroa sees him “doing well as a leader on the team.” It’s a role Howard is embracing.

“These new guys are coming straight out of high school, they’ve never experienced the speed of the college game,” Howard said. “The level we play at, getting those early games against some highly ranked teams was good for the young guys – definitely gave them a wakeup call.”

As the rhythm starts to acquiesce, the coming break will be a challenge to the Cobra’s momentum going forward. The team is prepared to build on the successes and to maintain their focus, a necessity going into the conference schedule, set to begin upon their return.

“We are just going to have to keep getting better,” Figueroa said. “We have to go into every game, every practice, learning to make adjustments, how to get better and compete night in and night out.”

Howard has a clear goal for the squad going into the break.

“If we’re going home, we better be finding a gym, and doing something. No time for us to be sitting around and turning into bums.”

McIntosh isn’t worried about having the down time slowing the team.

“We aren’t even going to have time to worry about that. Coach Figs will be getting us back soon enough,” he said. “It’s not going to be that big of a break!”