Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00
From the very first practice on a night back in October, Coach Howie Winston told the boys that they had a very good team. In fact, the words ‘championship caliber’ were even bantered about. Most of them knew the team was going to be good. Nobody realized that five short months later, they’d end up extremely good. In fact, perfect. And that’s what happened.
The Syosset Basketball League’s Red Team finished as the undefeated, undisputed, champions of the 7th-8th grade division with a final record of 13-0. The final tournament ended up being not much different than the regular season with the Red Team taking on all comers with the same style they had played all year and the results were the same too. The team had a few simple rules to play by which were repeated time and time again: Defense and Rebounding usually win games, and forget about the last play; think about the next play; and always stay positive.
Not only did the team play with those things in mind, they were completely selfless and played as a team at all times. Assistant Coach, Glen Levitan remarked; “This was the first team that I ever saw at the intramural level that never got on one of their teammates if someone made a bad play”.
While they weren’t a very tall team, they made up for that by having tremendous heart and tenacity. The Red team constantly out-rebounded opponents, while at the same time playing smothering defense. They could run the fast break as well as any team in the league, while at the same time usually knock down way more three pointers than their opponents.
The team consisted of Don Kim and Max Salit (nicknamed, ‘Pit-bull) playing up front in the team’s 2-3 zone. Brian Kim had amazing leaping ability and was a terrific rebounder. His outside shooting, which was at times flawless, also made for a great year. Jack Rosenblum was not only outstanding on finishing a fast break, his near flawless three-point shooting could only be rivaled by that of Steve Novak of the New York Knicks. Rosenblum gave the Red Team an “inside-outside” threat that was tough to defend.
Hockey player Ben Levitan always worked tirelessly on the boards. The coach’s son, Justin ‘Louie’ Winston would score his 4 to 10 points per game while always pulling down 10-12 rebounds. John ‘Money’ Jaroslawski was tremendous all season on both ends of the court, and as a team leader. While also playing both the 1 and the 2 positions, Money’s main contribution to the team came at the center spot, where he volunteered to play early in the season.
Often playing against much taller opponents, Jaroslawski was simply a force down low. Jordan ‘Kurzy’ Kurzweil played a tremendous point guard, and an even better shooting guard. ‘Kurzy’ would also play down low at times, and would be yet another big time rebounder. Seventh grader, Richard Rambarran was arguably the MVP of the entire 7th-8th grade league.
As Coach Howie said; “There are plenty of good players. What separates Richie from a lot of them is that he makes the players around him better too. That’s what makes a good player a great one.”
Rambarran would not only score over 20 points a game and grab countless rebounds; he would often set the tone on defense with tremendous energy.
“The best part about Richie is in just how nice and respectful the young man is. What many other teams didn’t realize is that Richie only ‘maxed out’ (you cannot score more than 25 points in any league game) a handful of times,” Howie said. “He would constantly drive the lane and pass off, often giving a teammate a wide open shot. He may have had 10 or more assists in a game more than he ‘maxed out.’ You could not ask for a better team player.”