Janesville Craig must reduce turnovers

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Gazette staff
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
— Coming off a winless 2009-10 season, Janesville Craig’s boys basketball program made strides last season.

The Cougars won eight games, but still battled the turnover bug and a poor shooting performance from the free-throw line.

Three games into the 2011-12 season, Craig is still battling its demons. The 0-3 Cougars are averaging 22 turnovers a game and are shooting only 51 percent from the line.

“Our biggest problem right now is handling pressure,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “You’re not going to beat many teams averaging 22 turnovers a game.

“But we did what we needed to do to get ready for the Big Eight season. We played three very good opponents, and even though we didn’t win any of them, we’re ready for (Madison) West on Thursday.”

Craig returns two starters from a year ago. Senior guard Brett Pickarts was second on the team in scoring a year ago with a 10.6 average, while senior forward Cameron Wright led the team in rebounds and steals.

“Pickarts can score from all over, and because he’s lefthanded, can be a tough matchup,” Miller said.

“Cameron is coming off probably his best game ever for us. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and his toughness on the court rubs off on everybody else.”

Senior Peter Cooney is the team’s top outside threat and leads in scoring after three games with an 11-point average.

Miller is also eager to get 6-foot-4 senior center Peter Roth into the starting lineup after he missed the first three games with a broken finger.

“Peter’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached,” Miller said. “He really worked hard on his game over the summer, and I’m excited to see how that pays off.”

Senior Zach Olson opens at point guard for Craig, while senior Joe Sarow and sophomore Jerry Ngobi will provide quality depth in the backcourt.

Junior Will Eden, at 6-5, is the team’s tallest player and a wide body underneath. Paul Foster, a 6-3 junior, also brings a physical presense in the post. Junior Troy Malmanger can play the point or shooting guard for Miller, while 6-4 senior center Matt Hayden is another big body Miller will lean on in the post.

“It’s a great group of kids,” Miller said. “And I think the seniors are really focused on the season.”

“So there’s no feeling of ‘oh no,’” Miller said of the team’s 0-3 start. “We were missing some key components of the team the first three games, and if we can cut back on our turnovers, I know everyone is excited to get into the conference season.”

Craig’s schedule:

(7:30 p.m. starting time unless indicated)

DECEMBER: Madison West; 3—Verona, 2:45 p.m.; 6—Beloit Memorial; 9—Sun Prairie; 15—At Madison La Follette; 17—Madison Memorial; 27—At Stoughton (UW Field House), 1:35 p.m.

JANUARY: 6—At Middleton; 12—Janesville Parker; 14—At Madison East; 20—At Madison West; 21—At Verona; 26—At Sun Prairie; 28—At Beloit Memorial.

FEBRUARY: 3—Madison La Follette; 9—At Madison La Follette; 11—Middleton; 17—At Janesville Parker; 23—Madison East.

Last updated: 6:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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