Kozinski learning to cope with adversity

Published 7:30 am Friday, February 26, 2016

If they are in the game long enough, adversity comes calling for every athlete.

Edwardsburg High School’s Adam Kozinski has experienced plenty of peaks in his varsity basketball career and this season he has learned to cope with the valleys.

Kozinski was on varsity as a sophomore and turned some heads with his play last summer. Expectations were high. The 6-foot-1 junior tri-captain (with seniors Dante Razzano and Ben Robertson) began 2015-16 with high expectations and and enjoyed some early successes.

But then he got a little too satisfied and Kozinski and Eddies coach Steve Wright cut his playing time.

“I’ve struggled a little bit,” Kozinski said. “At first, I was doing really well. Then I got content with my starting spot. Coach pulled me because I wasn’t playing as hard.”

Kozinski got the message and began to hustle, stopped pressing, improved his shooting and is part of the reason Edwardsburg (8-9) has won three of its last five games, including a 62-58 home victory against Niles Monday.

“He’s just relaxed,” Wright said after seeing Kozinski score 14 points with four 3-pointers against the Vikings. “He’s getting his feet set quicker with a better arch on his shot. He’s starting to feel better and get more confidence. He’s a kid that shoots a lot of basketballs. We’re expecting him to make a few of those.”

Wright credits Kozinski’s offensive game coming to his play without the basketball.

“When he was pressing, we told him to ‘let the game come to you, be more active on defense and sometimes that will get you going,’” Wright said. “He’s a kid that blocks out and does the right things for us.

“Adam’s just the kind of kid that does whatever you ask him. Even when times were tough for him this year, he remained very positive. He’s a great teammate. We sure like him.”

The younger brother of former Eddies sharpshooter and current Central Michigan University redshirt sophomore Josh Kozinski, Adam said he has a way to go to match his brother as a perimeter shooter. At 6-foot-1, he’s about three inches shorter than his sibling.

But Adam considers himself to be superior to Josh in a few areas.

“I think I’m a better ballhandler and can take it to the rack better,” the younger Kozinski said. “I’m more agile.”

Quickness by Kozinski and Razzano have them among the players that Wright will use to try to break an opponent’s press.

Against Niles, Edwardsburg took advantage of six fourth-quarter turnovers on the way to victory.

“Our intensity was good all night,” Wright said. “We had some guys working hard and battling. We were in the right areas.”

In a game that featured seven ties and eight lead changes, the Eddies took a 49-47 advantage on a Jon Albrecht layup with 4:44 to play and never trailed again.

Edwardsburg pushed the lead up to five points a couple times while Niles pulled to within two twice down the stretch. A slashing layup by Chris Brown with 10.5 seconds left sliced the Eddies’ lead to 60-58.

On a night when Edwardsburg was 12-of-28 at the foul stripe, a pair of Razzano free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining and Niles out of timeouts yielded what turned out to be the final score.

Razzano finished with a team-best 19 points (nine in the fourth quarter) for the Eddies. Jon Albrecht had 12 (eight in the second half).

Gavin Rasler paced the Vikings with 21 points (11 in the fourth quarter) while Tyler Phillips tallied 11 (seven in the third quarter).

Edwardsburg (8-9) will travel to Sturgis Friday for a Wolverine South Division contest.