Park boys basketball: Wolfpack ‘striving to do the ordinary things better than anyone else’Park is a combined 3-49 under head coach J Schwartz the past two years. However, Schwartz is back for a third year, determined to fight to turn the program around and continue to mold men out of boys.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
When Park head coach J Schwartz got the head coaching job at his alma mater after being a longtime assistant for the Wolfpack, he must have hoped it would go better.
Park is a combined 3-49 under Schwartz the past two years. However, Schwartz is back for a third year, determined to fight to turn the program around and continue to mold men out of boys.
Last year, the Park boys basketball team’s season came to an end with a 75-26 loss to No. 3-ranked Eastview in the opening round of the Section 3AAAA tournament, finalizing a 2-25 season.
This year, Park will be without 2012 graduates Austen Kruzeski, Tim Vorwerk, Robert Briggs and Anthony Tola. It will be a challenge to fill their shoes. A forward, Vorwerk tied for the team lead in scoring at 8.3 points per game. Briggs, a point guard, was third at 7.5 points per game, with Tola (6.2 points per game) and Kruzeski (4.3 point per game) not far behind out of their forward spots. Other top players during the 2011-12 season were junior forward Justin Myers, who averaged 8.3 points per game to tie for the team lead, and sophomore guard Sully Brenke, who scored 6.9 points per game.
“We have a core group of players from each grade who dedicated themselves to becoming not only better basketball players but better athletes,” Schwartz said. “We will have some healthy competition throughout the season. This can only benefit our team and Park High School as a whole.”
In the Suburban East Conference this season, it’s widely believed two-time defending conference champion Roseville will be the team to beat. In Section 3AAA, it is likely Apple Valley will set the bar. The Eagles, led by junior point guard Tyus Jones — the No. 1-rated player in the nation in his class — might be the top team in the state. Also formidable will be Rosemount and Eastview.
Last year, Park nearly broke a long Suburban East Conference losing streak with a 3-point loss to Hastings on Jan. 3. However, the Wolfpack’s conference losing streak hit 58 games after going 0-18 in the SEC last season. Park last won a conference game on Feb. 20 of 2009, beating White Bear Lake 63-61 amidst a 7-19 campaign three seasons ago.
Park’s two wins last season came over non-conference foes Simley and South St. Paul.
The Wolfpack will see those two teams inside the first five games of the year this season. The Wolfpack opens the season at home on Friday, Nov. 30, against Irondale. The team’s first SEC game is against Stillwater at Park on Dec. 18. The Wolfpack then plays host to Hastings on Friday, Dec. 21.
“Our players are striving to do the ordinary things better than anyone else does,” Schwartz said.