Jaho Koo, News Editor
On Feb. 16, the Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team brought home the Third Place Conference Plaque, finishing their season with an 8-4 record. In addition, sophomore, Josh Ryu and senior, Suin Park won the All-Conference award and the All-Tournament award, respectively.
The Knights came a long way since their slow start of the season when they were 0-3 after playing against the SIS Tigers and the KIS Phoenix, two of the tougher teams in the conference.
“We were shooting…below 20 percent in our first few games,” said Andy Myungkil Kim, “I remember after a game against KIS, coach was disappointed and none of us really knew what was wrong. It was quite depressing, because we actually had opportunities at a basket; the shots just didn’t go in.”
As a response to the team’s low field goal percentage, Coach Pitkin dedicated a great portion of practice time on shooting fundamentals. Players corrected their shooting forms, practiced their free throws, and worked on finishing in the paint. Drills included “Winner/loser Free Throws” in which a player aimed to make two consecutive free throws and run extra if he missed, and “Mikan Drills” in which a player continuously made layups from underneath the basket from both directions. “It [practice] is a challenge in basketball,” said freshman, Trey Noh, “I have to practice for my teammates and not just for myself. For example, helping out a teammate if he doesn’t understand a play or a drill.”
As a result of their intense practices, the Knights improved their field goal percentage to a more confident 40 percent, and went on a five game winning streak to the end of the season.
However, stats were not the most important aspect of playing a good game of basketball. The whole season was focused on enthusiasm and cooperation. “Stats are just numbers,” said Suin Park, “He [the Coach] keeps the stat sheet away from us. All that matters is that we represent Christ well and play the best we can.”
Senior, Peter Shin also added, “Coach focuses more on the short term goals than long term [ones]. It’s things like helping the other player up when he’s down and not trash talking, rather than just winning. The winning will eventually come with everything else.”
Coach Pitkin confirmed what his players said about the team’s objectives, “Our goal was to, first of all, honor Christ and represent each other with our actions and the way we play. The second goal was to improve everyday in practice, and play better each game.” Before the start of each game, the coaches reminded the players to limit turnovers, dominate rebounding, and shoot with confidence in order to achieve the aforementioned goals.
There were consequences for players who did not hold up to certain expectations: running extra line drills during practice. Often, in an attempt to build a team mentality, every player on the team ran for a game’s shortcomings.
“Coach Pitkin wants each player to be a role model to other team members,” said Tim Park, one of the co-captains of the team, “It’s not just me who’s given a leadership role. Anyone can step up and lead the team.”
The home game against SIS was arguably the best game the Knights played all year. It was a close loss, but most players chose it over the games they won. “That was the best game we played…in terms of how together we were,” said junior, Brian Lee.
Coach Pitkin was especially proud of how his players encouraged each other during and after the game, and said he had a lot of fun.
“Andy encouraged me after the game. He said I was still a freshman and I had a lot of time,” said Trey Noh, the youngest player on the team, “He also gave me tips on how I should relax and be quicker on offense.”
“Regardless of whether the opponent is better than us or not, many teams are simply better than what their records show. So every game is a mental test and we have to work hard together. We worked hard during practice and the efforts carried over [to the SIS game],” said Brian Lee.
The consensus seems to be that everyone had fun. “We had our up’s and down’s but we had fun and that’s what matters,” said Josh Ryu.
Peter Shin commented, “As a senior, knowing that it was the last season made it more meaningful.”
As the younger players enter a more relaxing off-season, they also look forward to next year.