By Bill Landon
In his third year as Kings Park boys’ basketball head coach, Christopher Rube looks to turn the corner after two losing seasons, and will rely on his core of returning players to do so.
Co-captain Paul Cooper, a returning All-Conference player brings experience and senior leadership to the court in his fourth year on the varsity team. He is on track to score his 1,000th career point this season.
Rube said that his player is an excellent ball handler who has a nose for the rim. Cooper, who has received two All-County nods while on the football team, is being actively recruited by Division III colleges to play both sports.
“I see a lot of improvement — we were competitive in my freshman year, but the last two years we’ve been rebuilding,” Cooper said. “Everyone’s getting used to the new coach and now everyone is buying in and we should have a good season.”
Rube said the last two years have been steppingstones. The Kingsmen finished 5-10 last year, and 4-11 the year before. Rube indicated his returning players have improved drastically over that time.
“Compared to where we were the last two seasons, we’re at a spot where we should be much more competitive,” he said. “I’m pleased with our efforts defensively — their unselfishness and willingness to pass the ball and find the open man. This year they did more work in the offseason than the previous two years, and they’ve developed a work ethic.”
He’s also looking forward to what co-captain Richie Price will bring to the court.
“This year it’s serious — everyone is invested in the program and no one’s selfish,” said Price, who is a three-year varsity returner. “This season everyone’s focused about the success of the team. Our defense has come a long way, so if we can be a solid defensive team we’re going to be hard to beat.”
Bolstering the core of this year’s squad is returning sophomore Andrew Bianco, who started as a freshman. Rube expects big things from his player.
“He has improved tremendously and will be one of our primary scorers,” the head coach said. “He’s tough around the ball, he can crash the boards and can step out and shoot 3-pointers.”
Bianco agreed with Price that everyone is focused on the greater good of the team.
“We share the ball more and we have good shooting,” Bianco said. “But we’re going to need to work on our plays on offense to be ready for Bellport to open the season [at home, Dec. 20].”
Price agreed with Cooper that the two teams to beat in League IV this season will be Half Hollow Hills West and Deer Park. Bianco sees Babylon as a greater threat than Deer Park, though.
The Kingsmen will host Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3, travel to Deer Park three days later and return home to face West Babylon Jan. 10.
“They’re at a point where they know that everybody needs to be able to shoot the ball, make the extra pass and work on being more consistent,” Rube said. “We look very good in flashes, but we need to put that together for all 32 minutes of play.”