WARREN â The Warren Cousino boys basketball team plays in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division â seen as the toughest league in the 36-team conference. On top of playing teams such as Macomb LâAnse Creuse North and Utica Eisenhower twice this season, the Patriots, 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the Red at press time, have also scheduled Bloomfield Hills High, Belleville High, Detroit Martin Luther King Jr. High, Dearborn Fordson and Lincoln Park High. Shepard said heâs using the Tom Izzo model of scheduling, as the decorated Michigan State University menâs basketball coach has developed a reputation for playing any team, any time, anywhere. âThe reality is, thus far, we have just come up a little short, but thatâs what happens when you play a schedule like the one weâve played,â said Shepard, who guided Cousino to a district title last season. âPeople may see our 3-5 record and think weâre having a down year, but all the teams weâve played are having good years, and we still have our MAC Red slate to play.â Shepard said the schedule is not an excuse for how his team has started. He said Cousino has had a hard time putting together four strong quarters of basketball, to this point. Shepard added, though, that his team had done well with its pressing style of defense. âWeâll be fine once we (put full games together),â he said. Shepard said this yearâs group of seniors has done a great job at leading the team. Cousino has eight seniors on its roster. Shepard said center Zack Meyers leads by example with his hard work; Swingman Davionne Fowler is the teamâs emotional leader and has played well recently. That leadership and mental toughness will be vital for the winner of the Red, Shepard said. Cousino sat in fifth place in the league at press time. Eisenhower and Romeo sat atop the league at 3-1. âThe Red is the best division in the MAC this year,â Shepard said. âTo win this league, weâre going to have to improve our mental toughness, which I know weâll do â itâs just a matter of when. Weâll also have to close out some close games because there is no off night in the MAC Red.â Cousino next faces MAC Red foe East Detroit High at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at Cousino.