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New-Look Park View Winning Early

Patriots’ boys basketball team has new head coach, new key players.

The Park View High boys basketball program is going through a year of transition this winter with a somewhat different lineup from last year’s 16-7 team as well as a new head coach.

Mike Koscinski is the program’s first-year head coach and had the Patriots off to a 2-1 start following last Friday night’s 78-72 win at Loudoun County (5-1). It was the Raiders’ first loss of the season.

Koscinski was an assistant boys coach at Briar Woods the past three years. Prior to that, he coached in New York state for seven years.

He was officially named the new Park View coach in late June. Jeff Schneider, who coached the team the past four years, informed school officials last May that he had decided to step down. The decision was based on a family decision to move to Greensboro, N.C.

Schneider steadily built the Patriots into a winner. They were 6-17 and sixth place in the eight-team Dulles District in his first season before improving to fourth place the following season. Then two year’s ago (2006-07 season), the Patriots had a breakout season with a 19-6 overall record and a trip to the Region II playoffs.

Then, last year’s successful 16-7 campaign ended with a district tournament semifinals loss to Potomac Falls. The Patriots of last winter were led by since-graduated standouts Danny Foley, Thomas Mulabah and C.J. Leizear.

<b>KOSCINSKI, DESPITE</b> the loss of the key players, believes Park View can be in the running for a district crown.

"There’s no reason we can’t compete for the district," he said.

His core of top players this winter includes senior center Kenny Smith, senior point guard Josh Jones and senior shooting guard Marcus Freeman.

Smith, the 6-foot-5-inch pivot, scored a game-high 25 points in the Patriots’ win over Loudoun Country Friday. A fourth-year varsity player, Smith’s junior season was effectively ended by a knee injury. This season, the court-savvy, frontcourt player is healthy and likely to be a big part of his team’s success.

"He’s definitely a presence down low," Koscinski said of Smith. "He has a real great feel for the game and plays off his teammates. We look for Kenny to be real consistent on the boards and a big part of anchoring the defense."

Freeman, who scored 19 in the win over the Raiders, is making the transition from point guard, where he played last year, to a shooting guard position this season. The 5-foot-6 player, who nailed four 3-pointers against County, has tons of talent and was a key member of last year’s squad.

"Marcus has the most playing experience of anyone on the floor," Koscinski said of the versatile Freeman. "He can shoot the basketball. If he’s on, we don’t have to play perfect to win."

Handling point guard duties for the Patriots is Jones, who will help Park View play at another gear when he is on the court.

"He’s 100 percent pure energy," Koscinski said of Jones. "He’s fast and brings another dimension as far as penetrating and getting to the basket."

The Patriots will be looking to move the ball quickly up and down the court with Jones handling the ball.

"He’s a guy that can get to the basket and advance the ball up court quickly," Koscinski said. "He’s real good at going after people and attacking offensively and defensively."

Another top producer this season is likely to be junior forward Jordan Owens, who netted 16 points against County.

"He does everything," Koscinski said of Owens, who came off the bench last year for the Patriots. "He brings it on both sides of the floor. He’s all focus and business and he’s an explosive player for us."

Also, look for senior Kurt Schray (eight points against County), a solid player both inside and outside of the paint, to be a consistent contributor.

<b>PARK VIEW</b> opened the season up a couple of weeks ago at the Tipoff Tournament, a season-opening event co-hosted by both the Patriots and Potomac Falls. There, it lost its opening game to Stone Bridge Dec. 5 by a 70-59 score before coming back and defeating Turner Ashby of Bridgewater the following night for its first win of the season. Freeman scored 21 in the loss to local rival Stone Bridge, while teammates Jones and Smith were also in double figures with 13 points apiece.

The Stone Bridge game was played at Potomac Falls, while the Turner Ashby contest took place at Park View.

Koscinski said his team played a little uptight in the season opener loss to the Bulldogs.

"We had some turnovers against Stone Bridge," said the coach. "We were nervous."

Look for Park View to be an attacking, run-the-court team.

"We can score in spurts and we’re looking to come out and go after people," Koscinski said. "We want to be an attacking team on both sides of the court."

Park View is scheduled to play district home games Dec. 16 and 19 against Heritage and Potomac Falls, respectively.