Albert Einstein High School’s boys’ basketball team entered the season with high expectations after ending last winter hot. But the Titans started slow and coach Rich Porac believed nothing was wrong.
That stance is becoming increasingly backed up, as the 5-9 (as of Monday) Titans have won four of their past five.
After his Titans became practically an overnight sensation last year, rebounding from a 2-11 start to rattle off nine wins in the next 12 games, Porac’s team was bestowed with lofty expectations this year. They returned 6-foot-7 guard Joe Bradshaw, 6-foot-5 center Abe Camara and several other role players from last season’s late-starting team. It was as promising an Einstein team as any. The Titans promptly began 1-8.
“I don’t want to say I expected to lose some games early on, but we had a brutal schedule,” Porac said. “We had Sherwood, Urbana, [James H.] Blake, Springbrook, [Col. Zadok] Magruder. I think the worst of that bunch is Magruder and we competed with those guys and we were starting a freshman point guard.”
J.D. Guerrero, the freshman Porac spoke of, was thrust into the proverbial fire, a practical sink or swim situation. Even with Guerrero playing through the expected growing pains, the Titans’ worst losses were 15-pointers to Urbana, a reigning state semifinalist, and Springbrook, currently one of the county’s most formidable 4A teams.
Since Einstein dove into its divisional play against teams the Titans will be playing come playoff time on Jan. 4, it is 4-2, and Camara and Bradshaw have begun to resemble the pair that carried the Titans through their Cinderella run last season.
“We’re turning things around. Well, not really turning things around, but staying the course,” Porac said. “All of the downtown consortium teams open up our schedules against the 4A schools and 99 percent of us start with losses. ...
“People go ‘Well, what’s wrong with Einstein?’ and I say ‘Nothing.’ We gave away two games and another we could have won but I got a 14-year-old kid dribbling the ball up the court. He’s really good, I mean, he’s extremely skilled, but he’s still 14-years old.
“So we have a freshman point guard, a 6-7 guard, a big man who’s been playing three years — I’d say we’re doing pretty good. I kind of like where we are right now and the direction we’re going.”
Wheaton and Rockville have technically played only two games thus far, yet have slugged it out for more than three games’ worth of basketball. A month and four days after the Rams topped the Knights in a four-overtime contest — nine players fouled out — Wheaton flipped the script, handing Rockville a 55-51 defeat in just one overtime.
“Both teams were in foul trouble as usual,” Rockville coach Steve Watson said with a laugh. “If we see each other in playoffs and we go into overtime, I wouldn’t expect any less.”
Blair at Sherwood, 7 p.m. Tuesday
The Warriors, once 6-1, have an opportunity to right the ship again with a quality win