Rallying for wins is norm at Park After slow start, Bruins rack up 15 wins in row

February 14, 1996|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was halftime of Park School's basketball game against McDonogh and the Bruins led by 15 points.

A seemingly comfortable lead disappeared in the second half, however, as Park hurried its shots, played passively on defense and turned the ball over in helping McDonogh rally to victory.

First-year coach Josh Wolf questioned his team's effort in a meeting after the game and the Bruins' season has since turned on that one game.

With a 85-67 victory over Spalding yesterday, the Bruins won their 15th straight game -- after starting 1-2 -- and improved their record to 16-2, 11-0 in Tier IV of the MIAA Conference.

The Bruins haven't lost since the first week of December and over that span have come from behind seven times to win, including games against Curley, St. Mary's, John Carroll and Boys' Latin.

"After the McDonogh game, I let the kids know that when you are winning you play a different kind of game then when you are behind," said Wolf. "We have trailed so many times this season, but in terms of confidence it's a matter of all five guys on the floor believing in their potential."

Said sophomore Keith Ganzenmuller, who is averaging 16.1 points a game and is one of Park's three starting guards: "It says a lot about our team and our coach that we can come back in games."

One strength the Bruins have shown all season is the play of their backcourt of Ganzenmuller, Cameron Stanley and Thibault Manekin, each of whom brings a different style on offense.

Stanley, who is averaging 14.7 points and had a season-high 30 points against St. Mary's, is the playmaker, creating opportunities off the dribble, and his quickness often leads to transition baskets.

Ganzenmuller is Park's long-range threat and its most consistent scorer, as well as a clutch free-throw shooter.

Manekin is the leader on the floor at point guard and keeps everyone involved by averaging six assists a game.

"The good thing about those three is that if one is not on, the other two can pick it up," said Wolf.

Even Park's front court of Danny Diamond (5-foot-11) and Paul O'Callaghan (5-11), who lack the size of others around the league, have played taller than they are, despite not scoring much.

And a deep bench, namely Justin Goldstein, Jerry Gray, Jason Kidwell and Jeff Mazur, has kept Park close in several games and has allowed Wolf to shuffle nine or 10 players a game.

"I feel the starting five is a reflection of the rest of the team," Wolf said. "The second team needs to be as good as the first."

Said Stanley, "We have confidence that our bench can play just as hard and we won't have to change our strategy."

Perhaps the biggest reason behind the Bruins' breakthrough season is Wolf himself. In just his second coaching season, Wolf has brought discipline and spirit to a team that has missed both over the past few seasons.

Wolf admitted that he had a "good feeling" about this year's team and that it was just a matter of taking individual talent and molding it to work as a unit. With four games left, Park is two wins away from having its best season since 1991-1992, when it finished 17-3.

"The team has really come together and Josh knows what our personal strengths are and uses them and it shows in our record," Stanley said. "He keeps our intensity up even during practice."

Said Wolf, "Since Park is a small school, everyone who trys out for varsity makes the team. After I let them know that, and once they decided to play, they decided to play hard."

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