Green Bay East boys basketball coach Rick Rosinski has made a lot of friends during his 14 seasons with the Red Devils.
It’s time to make some new ones.
East is part of a new-look Bay Conference that includes two other additions in Green Bay West and Appleton Xavier and the departure of Luxemburg-Casco, Denmark, Oconto Falls and Marinette.
The Red Devils no longer have to compete with De Pere, Bay Port, Sheboygan North or Ashwaubenon for the top spot in the Fox River Classic Conference, but things haven’t gotten much easier.
They now find themselves going up against a traditionally strong Seymour squad that is the defending Bay champion, a Xavier team that played in the WIAA Division 3 title game last season and a West De Pere program that has won 20 or more games in each of the last three seasons.
“It’s a big change for us, the rivalries that have kind of developed out of it and the friendship with the coaches and the camaraderie you have with those guys,” said Rosinski, who was named the FRCC coach of the year last season after leading the Red Devils to a fifth-place finish. “Being in it 14 years, you get to know a lot of the guys. I think that’s going to be the hardest thing, not to go play those guys.
“Just to kind of know the teams you are playing against and the gyms, we don’t have that now. It’s a new experience.”
While the move to a smaller conference is supposed to help teams like East and West have a better chance to compete, Rosinski felt his team was doing just fine. Still, he understands why the decision was made and supports it even if he’d like to still be in the FRCC.
The Red Devils haven’t been a threat to win a league title in the recent past, but they have played against some of the best teams and been respectable.
They beat North 86-80 last season after an earlier 13-point loss and hung with Bay Port before losing 63-56.
East isn’t expected to beat out Xavier or Seymour for the title, but at least one Bay coach pointed out that the Red Devils might surprise some people in the new league.
Others seem to agree.
“Based on what I saw over the summer out of those teams, I would say they would be in the top three,” Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said. “Xavier and Seymour should be the other two.
“They have some experienced guys coming back and they competed very well in the FRCC last year. It will be very interesting to see how all that works out. I’m sure Coach Rosinski will have them ready to play.”
East has to replace the scoring production of Kejuan Ransom and AZ Flowers, both of whom were all-conference selections as seniors last season.
But it does have guard Deonte Carlton back. The 6-foot-2 senior, who was the starting quarterback for the football team in the fall, was an honorable mention selection in the FRCC as a junior and is one of several players with past varsity minutes.
Rosinski was pleasantly surprised by his team’s performances in the scrimmages they played and also likes his depth. It’s probably no exaggeration to say the team has 10 players who are worthy of time, and with the extra four minutes added to games this season, all of them have a chance to play.
“This is probably 1 through 10 one of the most athletic teams I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rosinski said. “Athletically, we can get after it. We’re long. This is probably the longest team we’ve had since my second year. We have guys who are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 that are long and really can cover ground.
“I’m looking at what we can possibly do, but I always realize the stumbling blocks that we have to face. But I wouldn’t forget about us, I’ll just say that.”
Coach: Matt Klarner, fifth year.
2014-15 record: 24-4.
Key players: Sam Burkart (sr., 5-11), Zach Simons (sr., 6-1), Matt DeYoung (sr., 6-5), Bailey Headington (sr., 5-11), Noah Severin (sr., 5-8); Hunter Plamann (so., 5-11).
Notable: The Hawks advanced to the WIAA Division 3 state title game last season after winning the Eastern Valley Conference for a second straight season. They also led the conference in scoring each of the last four seasons. Xavier has two starters back, including Burkart, who is the reigning EVC player of the year after averaging 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game last season. Klarner has gone 71-29 as head coach, and the team has improved its win total in each of his first four seasons.
Green Bay East
Coach: Rick Rosinski, 14th year.
2014-15 record: 10-13.
Key players: Deonte Carlton (sr. 6-2), Everett Laye (sr, 6-3), Effriam Bowers (sr., 6-2), Quadre Davis (sr., 6-5), Matt Miller (sr., 6-2), Austin Short (sr., 6-0), Daniel Warren (sr., 6-3), Marcell Kemp (jr., 6-0), Bennett Farrell (so., 6-0).
Notable: The Red Devils have good depth and experience and some young potential with a player like Farrell. Carlton was an honorable mention selection in the Fox River Classic Conference as a junior, averaging 8.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
Green Bay West
Coach: Matt Bredesen, first year.
2014-15 record: 7-16.
Key players: Marc Graham (jr., 6-0), Marcus Tippins (sr., 6-1), Cardell Pointer (jr., 6-1), Anthony King (jr., 6-1), Collin Bouressa (sr., 6-4), Brandon Dudley (so., 6-1), Davontay Jones (jr., 5-8), Demaggio King (sr., 6-2).
Notable: Bredesen replaces Steven Sickler, who stepped down in March after three seasons. Bredesen was the coach at Montello the past three seasons and led the team to a 35-35 record. The Wildcats have two returning starters in Graham and Tippins. A third starter, senior forward Dantae Williams, likely is out for the season because of a foot injury sustained during the football season. Bredesen likes the nonconference schedule his team has, which includes a game against state-ranked Monona Grove. One of the keys for the Wildcats will be how quickly they pick up and grow in Bredesen’s system.
Coach: Andy Maulick, second year.
2014-15 record: 12-13.
Key players: Indy Johal (sr., 6-3), Alex Everson (jr., 6-2), Alex Zeinert (so., 6-3).
Notable: The Bluejays will be a young team that must deal with growing pains in a good conference. Maulick likes the athleticism of his players.
Coach: Kurt Schommer, first year.
2014-15 record: 6-18.
Key players: Hunter Zaddack (sr., 6-0).
Notable: The Bulldogs don’t have any returning starters and Zaddack is one of few players to receive any meaningful minutes last season. Although the team is inexperienced, it also means that there is an opportunity for players to earn starting jobs.
Coach: Jon Murphy, 29th year.
2014-15 record: 22-3.
Key players: Anthony Hernandez (jr., 5-9), Jack Murphy (sr., 5-10), Justin VandenHeuvel (jr., 6-0), Trevor Cornell (so., 5-11), Bryce VerVoort (jr., 6-2), Ian Hanseter (sr., 6-3), Michael Wesolowski (sr., 5-11), Seth Jefson (sr., 5-10), Josh Krause (so., 6-5), Nik Yaeger (jr., 6-3), Alex Schuh (sr., 6-2), Reed Blake (sr., 6-4), Brayden Wilinski (sr., 6-4), Casey Yaeger (so., 6-5), Devin Ziegler (sr., 6-0).
Notable: Murphy knows this team well. The senior class includes his son, Jack, and he’s coached them since they were in second grade. The entire team is a favorite of the long-time coach because of their work ethic and chemistry. The Thunder is the defending conference champions and again is being picked by coaches as one of the top contenders.
Coach: Dave Ambrosius, first year.
2014-15 record: 19-6.
Key players: Brady Belongia (sr., 6-1), Cole Nelson (so., 5-10), Jacob Lacy (so., 6-2), Bobby Peters (jr., 6-1), Nathan Frechette (so., 5-11), Tyrell Hesse (jr., 6-3), Adam Bartz (sr., 6-2), Austin Kohl (jr., 6-5), Dakota Maltbey (so., 6-4) , Zeke Gueths (sr., 6-6).
Notable: Ambrosius takes over for Chris Kellett as coach. Ambrosius was an assistant under Kellett and has many of the same philosophies. The Hawks have won two straight regional championships but will have to replace nine seniors.
West De Pere
Coach: Andrew Werner, seventh year.
2014-15 record: 20-7.
Key players: Luke Pannier (sr., 6-2), Cole Kempen (sr., 6-3), David Zellner (sr., 5-11), Noah Beyer (sr., 5-10), Joe Janus (jr., 6-2), Daniel Paulson (sr., 5-9), Luke Reimer (sr., 5-10), Taylor Rahn (jr., 6-0), Tyler Schwartz (jr., 6-3), Quinn Norton (jr., 6-4), Marcus Owens (jr., 6-0), Sam Ricker (jr., 6-2), Collin Lengrader (jr., 6-0).
Notable: The Phantoms have to replace most of their starting lineup from last season. They do welcome the return of Pannier, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee as a junior. Werner likes the overall balance of the offense and its multiple good shooters. West De Pere will lack the size it had the past few seasons and has little varsity experience behind Pannier and Kempen.