SIREN – Rick Kosloski’s maiden voyage into the varsity postseason will still be his swan song.
Kosloski – brought in as interim coach for the Siren boys basketball team shortly before the 2019-2020 season started – still expects to relinquish the reigns when the Dragons’ playoff run concludes. So depending on their success or lack thereof in early March, Kosloski could be in his final week as the team’s coach.
“It’s been challenging (and) a new experience,” Kosloski said. “I’ve tried to help keep this year’s team in-tact with what the team was doing, while trying to implement my own stuff.”
Kosloski was a late fill-in for Siren after coach Jon Ruud was given a one-year hiatus from the post and the limited preseason preparation may have played a role in the team’s challenging start to the season. Siren lost its first six games and was 1-9 overall through 10 games.
Another obstacle blocking the path to success, according to Kosloski, was the team’s operating environment. In his opinion, players comprising the roster weren’t headed in a uniform direction.
“We’ve worked to try and change the culture of basketball to some degree in Siren,” he said. “We had to learn to get along as a team and play as a team; to respect one another and play for each other.
“We had to remove individualism.”
As those adjustments were being made, the coach also had to adapt to a slightly different game. Kosloski spent prior years assisting the Siren girls program and he soon witnessed the difference in style of play after moving to the boys coaching staff.
“The boys’ game is much faster, no doubt,” he said. “The boys tend to get more physical and we had some kids who didn’t make the best decisions on or off the court.
“And overall, I was learning the different personalities among the boys.”
During those early-season struggles the players also had to adapt to different strategies on the court. The physical game plan was altered along with the mental and personal aspects, which added another element to the situation.
“We weren’t a team that played man-to-man in several years,” Kosloski said. “We’ve played it almost all year and they’ve adapted to it.”
Eventually, the Dragons reached success. They won four of their last five games in January after getting just one win in their first 10. Kosloski gives some of that credit to the team’s assistant coaches and the coach he’s subbing for.
“I’m thankful to Jon for staying in touch throughout the year and offering guidance,” Kosloski said. “Dino (Oustigoff) is a returner to the staff and that’s worked-out well. Two other new coaches (C.J. Johnson and Travis Thiex) have been a big help.”
But four consecutive losses leading to postseason seeding left the Dragons as a 12th seed, going to South Shore on Tuesday for the playoff opener. After concluding the regular season this week, Kosloski hopes to return Ruud a team with an improved culture and maybe a postseason win.
“I feel we’ve learned to respect one another and that’s been part of the culture change,” he said. “I’m thankful to the school for extending the opportunity to me.”