Same school, new team for Elizabeth Forward boys basketball coach Kosanovich |

Same school, new team for Elizabeth Forward boys basketball coach Kosanovich

In three seasons as the coach of the Elizabeth Forward girls basketball team, Sam Kosanovich led the program to a 64-15 record and three consecutive playoff appearances.

Now, Kosanovich has been tapped to lead the boys basketball team at Elizabeth Forward, and the veteran coach said he has no reason to believe that the transition he will take from the girls’ game to the boys’ will be too taxing.

“For me personally, not much changes,” “I’ve coached for 24 years, 18 of them on the boys’ or men’s side.

“Personally, I don’t expect a major transition or anything. Basketball is basketball.”

Regardless, Kosanovich has his work cut out for him when it comes to replacing nine players who graduated from last season’s team, which went 20-4 before bowing out in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals to Uniontown.

“It’s a clean slate, for both players and the coaching staff,” Kosanovich said. “So, we’ll just take it one day at a time. We’ll practice. We’re always evaluating.

“We may not have an experienced group, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compete. It’s an opportunity for the players, a chance for them to show that they deserve the playing time.”

The lone starter from last year’s team is a big one, both in size and in contributions. Senior center George Prota (6-foot-10), who averaged 14.7 points last season, figures also to play a prominent role on defense for the Warriors.

Kosanovich said that he is confident that the team will be able to adapt offensively if teams decide to double-team Prota.

“It’s the old adage: You take what the defense gives you,” Kosanovich said. “We want to feed the ball in to George as much as possible, and he’ll either score or get double-teamed. If he gets doubled or tripled, we’ll want him to kick it back out to his teammates for an easy jump shot.”

As for Prota’s potential running mates on the court, Kosanovich said he is judging his players in preseason practices, and that there will be plenty of playing time for those willing to work hard and buy into the program.

“There’s opportunity for anybody who didn’t get much (playing) time last year to show what they have and show that they deserve time this year,” Kosanovich said. “It’s a great opportunity for everybody on this team just to compete against each other.”

Other newcomers to the Elizabeth Forward coaching staff are former Penn State-Greater Allegheny coach Clyde Manns and former La Roche assistant coach Ken Gibbs.

“They bring a wealth of basketball knowledge,” Kosanovich said. “They’re great communicators, and most importantly, they’re high-character guys.”

Elizabeth Forward begins its season in the Brownsville Tournament against South Allegheny at 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at Brownsville.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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