It’s a different group of players, for the most part, suiting up for Kolbe Cathedral this season. But the expectations have changed from outside the program.
When you go from a 1-19 campaign to state champions, you will have that kind of turnabout. You get ranked in the preseason Top 10 poll (ninth), you are considered a contender in your conference (South-West Conference) and you move up a couple of divisions (Division II) because of your recent success.
Whether all of that was completely warranted is besides the point. It comes with the territory, something head boys basketball coach John Pfohl is totally aware of.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was any pressure. There has to be (pressure),” Kolbe Cathedral coach John Pfohl said. “We are the defending state champion. You want to repeat, you want all those things as a player. We will take everyone’s best shot for sure. These guys have to understand even though most of then weren’t involved in those wars last year, they are going to be involved now.
“I feel it on my side of thee equation as well. The summer was fun (for celebration). I’m very much a guy who looks forward rather than back. Once the season started, whatever happened last year is over with.”
This is the second year of Pfohl’s second stint with the Cougars, having taken time off in between to watch his children play the game. He won two state championships the first time around.
“It’s been a rocky start to this campaign: losses in three of the first four games. It almost was four out of five, but Kolbe hung on to beat Amistad 70-61 in double overtime last Thursday.
“Definitely for a young team confidence-wise, this was a game we needed to win,” Pfohl said. “It’s a learning process for the young kids. They have to get better. We were not great, but good enough.”
Quinton Sneed-Lott, a starter on last year’s team (10 points in the Division IV final against Rocky Hill) finished with a double-double (16 points, 20 rebounds) against Amistad. He will be relied upon heavily all season long.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier with Harding and Notre Dame-Fairfield this week before SWC play opens.
“I’ve watched the film from last year and said, ‘Geez, I’d like to have some of those kids come back,’ but they didn’t,” Pfohl said. “Thee truth is there is pressure involved. You have to try and figure that out. We are not in a life-or-death situation, but you learn how to deal with things.”